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The acts of Jesus : the search for the…
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The acts of Jesus : the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Robert Walter Funk

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1532128,454 (3.73)None
Chapter OneTHE FIRST STORYTELLERSThe followers of Jesus no doubt began to repeat his witticisms and parables during his lifetime. They soon began to recount stories about him, perhaps about his encounters with critics or about his amazing way with the sick and demon-possessed. As time went by, the words were gathered into compounds and clusters suggested by common themes or by catchwords to make them easier to remember and quote. His parables were retold and adapted to new audiences with each performance. The stories were likewise repeated by individual storytellers, who retold them in their own words, sometimes adding or omitting details as imagination or memory dictated. The gospel tradition was a living, breathing body of lore whose outside dimensions continued to grow.Since the gospels consist of individual tales that were formed and circulated within this highly fluid body of lore, scholars find it necessary to analyze the structure of the simple anecdote.A story or anecdote is the verbalrepresentation of an event. To tell a story the narrator must bring two or more persons together in the same time and space and allow something to happen. That something is an event. In the gospels, the report of an event nearly always involves Jesus as the central character, although some anecdotes feature John the Baptist, Simon Peter, or Judas.Storytellers sometimes report events on their own authority: they insert themselves between the event and the listener as thoug… (more)
Member:neilgodfrey
Title:The acts of Jesus : the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus
Authors:Robert Walter Funk
Info:[San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco, c1998. xxiv, 569 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm. 1st ed
Collections:Your library, Hard copy
Rating:
Tags:Bible.NT.Jesus, Christian origins

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The Acts of Jesus : The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus by Robert Walter Funk (1998)

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For nearly 100 years Biblical scholars have developed ways of telling when when a story has been revised or edited, when two stories have been combined together, when a tale has been added to, when manuscript copyists (who wrote by hand) have skipped over words or added in a correction or comment as if they were the words of the original author, and methods of telling which parts of a story are older and younger.

Unfortunately, it is the nature of scholars to disagree: each scholar must make a name for himself by promoting his own ideas. This obscures the historical consensus built by years of work.

This work was a second valuable experiment in getting scholars to agree. It was a shock to many readers because it was deliberately not shrouded by jargon or presented only in a seminar for fellow specialists. (Scholars have realized that their conclusions upset people and many now hesitate to write in a way or forum where they might be overheard and understood.)

This book explains what New Testament scholars think is historical in the New Testament gospels, to what degree, and why. After a century of meticulous work, very few scholars think the gospels were eyewitness accounts (for why read [[Throckmorton]]'s [Gospel Parallels]) or that ancient historians (and the gospel writers were biographers and theologians, not historians) wrote history without any addition of legend, hearsay, or ways of telling the story that made for a better tale than the original. (These were oral cultures where only epic poems and memorable prose stories survived.)

This book was a deliberate attempt to explain and to be clear about what Biblical scholars do and how they think. It was an attempt to summarize what 100 years of work has learned. The textual archaeology at the basis of these conclusions is the foundation of any training in Biblical scholarship and history: those who object wholesale have either missed 40 years of German scholarship or are afraid of making someone mad.

This book also is a bit of a time capsule: since its publication there have been new archaeological and textual discoveries, further research, new academic trends, and the inevitable development of conclusions that come from further study and consideration. This book is helpful because it is intended for ordinary readers and it is unusually honest -- and the reaction to it seems to have frightened many scholars into other kinds of work or back into jargon. (Part of that is our fault for not being more public about our work as decades passed.)

Notice there is no equivalent for the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

It may be a long time before a body of scholars tries being this honest, again, and for that reason alone this book (and its predecessor) are worth reading.
This book was preceded by a companion work, [The Five Gospels]. Scholars affiliated with this effort have published a readable collection of all the gospels that survived antiquity, [The Complete Gospels] and a translation which follows how the letters of Paul read to a historian's eye, [The Authentic Letters of Paul].

Worth reading with [[Throckmorton's]] [Gospel Parallels] or [Synopsis Quattuor Evangelium] close at hand (these books list similar passages from the four gospels side by side and save a lot of flipping around: the one with the frightful Latin title goes back to the old scholarly custom of using Latin. It contains the Greek New Testament, an English (or German, if you prefer that language) translation, and the Coptic of the Gospel of Thomas (with a guess at how it looked in Greek) for comparison.)

-Kushana ( )
2 vote Kushana | Dec 28, 2010 |
Provocative new findings from the Jesus Seminar.
  stmarysasheville | Apr 14, 2008 |
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