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The acts of Jesus : the search for the…

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

by Robert Walter Funk

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1382128,462 (4)None
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
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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060629789, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:29 -0400)

"For over a decade, the Jesus Seminar, a group of more than seventy-five 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." "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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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