Subject: Group concludes: Jesus didn't say it Keywords: organized religion, religion, life
Subject: Group concludes: Jesus didn't say it
Keywords: organized religion, religion, lifestyle trends, trends,
misc social issues, social issues
Date: 4 Mar 91 18:41:20 GMT
LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- A controversial group of bibilical scholars has
concluded six years of voting by ruling that about 80 percent of the
words attributed in the Gospels to Jesus were probably made up by later
The picture of Jesus that emerges from the meeting that concluded
Sunday in Sonoma, Calif., is one of a prophet-sage who told parables and
made pithy comments, but never spoke many of the words that have, in
modern times, become pulpit favorites.
Virtually all of Jesus' words in the Gospel of John were voted down
by the Jesus Seminar, a 200-member group of mainline biblical scholars
from around the country who came together, in part, to counteract
literalist views of the Bible.
The group has stirred controversy since its first meetings in 1985,
when scholars participating in the group voted down the apocalyptic
voice of Jesus when he is quoted as saying he will return one day to a
world filled with turmoil.
Scholars felt that the doomsaying words were put on the lips of Jesus
to bolster hopes of gospel writers about 30 to 60 years after his
Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar, acknowleged in an
interview with the Los Angeles Times that his group has critics.
``Televangelists on talk shows say it's the work of the devil,'' Funk
Many academic colleagues have criticized, among other things, the
seminar's unconventional voting techniques.
Scholars drop red and pink beads into a ballot box for probable or
possible authentic sayings. Gray and black beads are used for sayings
that allegedly reveal the theological bias of the gospel authors or the
beliefs of beleagured early Christians, but not necessarily the messages
of the historical Jesus.
The only saying in John that received a pink vote was one (4:44) that
has parallels in other gospels -- that a prophet has no honor in his own
The group black-beaded parts of John that include 3:16: ``For God so
loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes
in him may not perish but may have eternal life,'' and 14:6: ``I am the
way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except
In John, Jesus says, ``I am the good shepherd ... I am the light of
the world ... I am the bread of life.'' That, Robert Fortna of Vassar
College said, ``is mostly the work of the author.'' Jesus rarely refers
to himself in the other gospels.
Because the Gospel of John is a favorite source in sermons, Fortna
said the Jesus Seminar results ``will be startling to most people and
deeply offensive to many, not just fundamentalists.''
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank