The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do?

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9780060629786: The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do?

In their groundbreaking bestseller, The Five Gospels, Robert Funk and The Jesus Seminar offered their controversial analysis of what Jesus really said. Now, in The Acts of Jesus, these distinguished scholars reveal their startling assessment of what Jesus really did -- and didn't -- do.

Publishers Weekly calls the Jesus Seminar "one of the most exhilarating developments in the recent history of scholarly books on the New Testament." For over a decade, the Jesus Seminar, a group of more than 75 internationally recognized biblical scholars--experts in such diverse fields as Greco-Roman history, archaeology, and linguistics -- has met twice yearly to conduct a painstaking search for the authentic Jesus. Through rigorous research and debate, they have combed the gospels for evidence of the man behind the myths. The figure they have discovered is very different from the icon of traditional Christianity.

According to The Jesus Seminar:

  • Jesus of Nazareth was born during the reign of Herod the Great.
  • His mother's name was Mary, and he had a human father whose name may not have been Joseph.
  • Jesus was born in Nazareth, not in Bethlehem.
  • Jesus was an itinerant sage who shared meals with social outcasts.
  • Jesus practiced healing without the use of ancient medicine or magic, relieving afflictions we now consider psychosomatic.
  • He did not walk on water, feed the multitude with loaves and fishes, change water into wine or raise Lazarus from the dead.
  • Jesus was arrested in Jerusalem and crucified by the Romans.
  • He was executed as a public nuisance, not for claiming to be the Son of God.
  • The empty tomb is a fiction -- Jesus did not raise bodily from the dead.
  • Belief in the resurrection is based on the visionary experiences of Paul, Peter and Mary.

An Easy-to-Use Guide to the Historical Jesus

The Acts of Jesus presents its findings by color-coding the gospel texts, providing a visual guide to the historical authenticity of the accounts of Jesus' life and deeds.

Red: The authentic acts of Jesus
Pink: A close approximation of what Jesus did
Gray: Stories that show minimal historical traces
Black: Stories that are improbable or fiction

In lucid, engaging prose, The Acts of Jesus presents and illuminates the historical and literary evidence that led to the Seminar's often controversial conclusions. It provides the reader with immediate access to the latest scholarship in historical Jesus research today.

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Review:

Seventy-nine scholars worked six years on this new translation of the Gospels in order to "produce in the American reader an experience comparable to that of the first readers--or listeners--of the Gospel." Most attempts to translate the Bible into contemporary English fall flat because they're blatantly agenda-driven or because they rescue the Gospels from limp Victorian prose only to encrust them in awkward contemporary jargon. The Acts of Jesus, by contrast, listens closely to the Greek styles of the Original texts, then renders each distinctive voice in modern English. Consequently, Luke sounds like a good college English professor, but Mark sounds rougher, like street language. The text is color-coded--words in red indicate events that the translators believe to have actually taken place, for instance--and the volume also includes exhaustive commentary and indices by the members of the Jesus Seminar. Only the heartiest of readers will make use of all this auxiliary information. For most of us, the freshness of the language ("You scholars and Pharisees, you impostors! Damn you! You slam the door of Heaven's domain in people's faces.") is the most valuable discovery in The Acts of Jesus. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Robert W. Funk is founder of the Jesus Seminar and Director of the Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, California. He has been a distinguished leader in biblical scholorship for more than thirty years. A Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Senior Scholar, he is the author of a dozen books, including Honest to Jesus and The Five Gospels.

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