Jesus Seminar

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by wil, May 30, 2006.

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    As usual I'm way behind the 8 ball on this one...

    I've read this (the Jesus Seminar) mentioned in a couple of threads last week and was unaware of what was being referred to.

    Someone handed me 'The Five Gospels' on Friday and said, "I just finished reading this...do you want it?"

    And a few hours later someone else said, "For new testament exploration you should have 'The Five Gospels' on your bookshelf"

    So in less than a week I was enticed to wonder about the seminar, received the book that was created by the seminar without asking, and then informed it would be a valuable research tool.

    Having started reading the book twas obvioius it is controverserial...a quick websearch confirms this...

    Has anyone read this book and have thoughts on the contents (I know others like me have thoughts on books we haven't read....)
     
  2. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    The Jesus Seminar was organized, I believe, in the 1980's by the late Robert Funk. It included many of the foremost Christian scholars of the period including John Dominic Crossan, John Shelby Spong, and others. Their charge was to determine, as much as possible, the historical truth of statements attributed in the gospels to the man Jesus. They actually used different colored balls when voting on a particular saying or passage; black-no, white-yes, and red-maybe. Lots of black, few whites, and a middling number of reds were cast by the seminar participants . My recollection is that the process continued for several years into the 90's

    People of an orthodox nature, of course, did not like it very much when the seminar decided that not many of the statements attributed to Jesus were actually taught or spoken by him; and, in fact, horror of horrors, the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas was viewed by seminar members to probably contain more historically accurate statements of/by Jesus than the four synoptic gospels of the cannon.

    I suggest that you obtain and read anyting written by Elaine Pagels, a Princeton professor of religion, pertaining to Gnosticism and its history. All of the several books she's written are excellent and not too hard to understand, and will enrich your understanding of the hidden versions of Early Christianity that were quite effectively stamped out by Rome before 400 ad.

    That's about the extent of what I remember.

    flow....:cool:
     
  3. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    What was hidden? Outcast perhaps (ok, most definitely), but not hidden. No one under the good graces of the church wanted a papal bull pinned to their door post. And it all happened wholesale, after 400 AD, not before...

    (reference, "Church History in plain language", by Bruce Shelley)

    my thoughts

    v/r

    Q
     
  4. Dor

    Dor Bible Thumper

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    What makes some people a Christian scholar?

    With list you have must be who can tear apart the faith and Christ the most.
     
  5. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I've come across references to the Jesus Semninar and their work for a few years - the overwhelming impression I'm given though is that the project is as much open to subjective interpretation as any other study into a personal faith. Some of their methodology, as described, seems very curious.
     
  6. flowperson

    flowperson Oannes

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    I based most of my information about the Jesus seminar upon what I remember from the period. Ms. Pagels writings also demonstrate that the Gnostic (hidden) sects were under fervent attack between 150-400 ad. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon was in the foremost ranks of the attackers late in the second century. Many people were burned and thrown to wild animals for their heresy, and many among the persecuted had to hide their beliefs to maintain their lives. Among the sects were Valentinians, Manicheans, etc.

    In fact many of the horror stories concerning Christian persecution and slaughter came from this time period and were applicable to sects that did not conform to the orthodoxy espoused by the church fathers in Rome. Constantine's compromise at Nicea slowly brought this to a halt, and a secular Pax Romana descended on Christianity as the ruling principle after 325 ad.

    I am not familiar with Bruce Shelley's work so I cannot comment upon it's historical accuracy.

    flow....:)
     
  7. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Here's a good starting point for anyone interested in the Jesus Seminar:

    http://virtualreligion.net/forum/reaction.html

    What's cool about the JS is that they include or link to scholarly criticism of their positions. If you take the time to absorb the various positions you'll get the mini tour of the modern currents within Christian biblical scholarship.

    Chris
     
  8. FriendRob

    FriendRob Well-Known Member

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    The Jesus Seminar boasts some of the most brilliant New Testament scholars living today. The Five Gospels gives a good impression of what "liberal" scholars think are probably the most authentic words of Jesus. If you want to understand the reasoning behind the decisions made there, check out the books by John Dominic Crossan, especially The Historical Jesus and The Birth of Christianity. Warning: these are long, scholarly, and at times difficult to read - for a brief introduction try Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography.
     
  9. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Dor, I see you call yourself a Bible thumper. Normally I don't get along with Bible thumpers but I can try to explain what gives a person the credentials to be called a Christian scholar. It's got to do with formal (university) education. If you are a Christian and have the university degrees to be called a scholar, you can be called a Christian scholar. Bible thumpers often don't go for this kind of indepth education and they might view scholarly critique as ripping up the Bible.
     
  10. Dor

    Dor Bible Thumper

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    Well lets see since I have a degree....that means Im a Christian Scholar.
     
  11. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Dor said:

    <Well lets see since I have a degree....that means Im a Christian Scholar.>

    How many PhDs or other university degrees have you got? In what? Where did you earn them? Note, I said "degrees" in the plural. You may very well meet the qualifications. My question then would be: Why do you ask these questions:

    <What makes some people a Christian scholar?

    With list you have must be who can tear apart the faith and Christ the most.>
     
  12. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Dor,

    I, too, am curious about the field in which you earned your degree ...

    ... but I'm more interested in what you consider to be proper grounds for being a Christian scholar?

    (My own opinion coincides with RubySera's for the most part.)

    namaskar,

    taijasi
     
  13. Dor

    Dor Bible Thumper

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    Ok first off. I am not a "Christian scholar". No I don't have multiples phds I have a degree in Nuclear Physics.

    The reason I asked what makes one a Christian scholar was cause Id say a majority of the ones talked about on these boards now all seem to have a few things in common....things that most that believe the bible wouldnt agree with. So I was curious.
     
  14. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Hi Dor,

    Thanks for the clarification. In case you haven't seen it, in the thread about "question for Christian theology" there is some discussion about Bart D. Ehrman and Taijasi lists his degrees and other scholarly work he has done, and concludes that he would meet the qualifications of "scholar." I agree. It was also noted somewhere that he is an agnostic, so I don't know if he counts as a Christian scholar. It seems his scholarship is in early Christianity, so "Christian" could possibly be used as a description for the field he's in. I don't know how these terms are normally used by the people in the field. "Scholar of Christianity" is another possibility.

    As for why Christian scholars tend to believe things "most people who believe the Bible" don't believe, I can only guess. First of all, I don't know who you consider to be believers of the Bible. I've noticed some Christians use this term for a very specific branch of Christianity, and that they exclude liberal Christians who view the Bible very differently from themselves. Second, as you probably know in nuclear physics, it's the highly trained scholars and/or scientists who learn the new stuff. As Christian scholars struggle with the fine details of Christian texts, beliefs, practices, and do research on these things, it would naturally follow that they come to conclusions different from what most people have accepted. I haven't been on this site long enough to make the observation you did but it is an interesting point.

    Ruby
     
  15. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    No, we aren't anti bible. We are curious to find out more. As I recall, the Bible is quite specific "Ask and you shall recieve, seek and you shall find, knock the door shall be opened to you." It never said "look only in the Bible". Perhaps that was because at the time of Jesus, except for the Pentatuch, there was no Bible...hmmm.

    Please forgive me, but I find being called a Bible twister and delver in "crap", an insult. I submit that others feel the same way.

    As an active participant in this forum, I fail to see, wherein this forum belongs to any particular group of individuals. And I am sorry that those who used to post, choose not to post any longer. That is their and our loss, which I personally regret. But, this is a place of discussion, not a stomping ground for a particular demonination.

    I also fail to see Jesus doing the same thing. In fact I opine He would actively engage all comers, and win them with His truth. He did it over and over again, during His walk on earth...

    That said, a Christian "theologian" is one who studies the life of Christ. A Christian "scholar" is one who considers themselves an "expert" on Christ. One is realistic, and the other is a pipe dream.

    my thoughts

    v/r

    Q
     
  16. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Really? I thought Jesus was forever complaining that nobody took him seriously. How do you claim that he was always winning people over to the truth?
     
  17. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Really? I thought Jesus never complained about anything. He simply instructed His followers to "knock the dust off of their feet, of any town that did not accept".

    Where did Jesus complain about man, pray tell?

    He didn't.
     
  18. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    I see you are cashing in on the word "complain." I didn't mean it that way. I just meant that he noted this to be the case and he did sound sad about it at times. I can't give chapter and verse off the top of my head but the fact that he suggests what to do when people don't accept one's message strongly suggests that he has experience with it. In another place he asks his twelve disciples, "Will you leave me, too?" And Peter says, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life." That might be in John. In another place he weeps over Jerusalem and says, "How often I have wanted to gather your children to me but you wouldn't let me." I take this to mean people did not take his message seriously and he was saddened to the point of tears. These kinds of messages are scattered through the four gospels. People as a whole flocked to him in the beginning to be healed and to hear him speak. But when it came down to brass tacks no one took him seriously and it really bothered him. That's what my statement is built on.
     
  19. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    If I might say so, I think I agree with you, Q, that Jesus would at least try to win the hearts of those who came to him - if indeed, there was an ounce of sincerity within them, in their motivation for coming to him. What was it about faith the size of a mustard seed? :)

    However, I also think RubySera's point cannot be overlooked. The vast majority of those alive in Jesus' time could not, would not, and DID NOT grasp His message, or even try. Some of them simply did not receive it, because they could not - and I suspect that many of these never even knew he was alive. We should remember that he was just one man, and even with a large following, he knew his message would not reach everyone in that day, or even 2000 years later!!!

    I think Jesus preached and taught for a sub-set of a sub-set of a sub-set, etc. Yet, unquestionably he came FOR US ALL. How are these two statements not contradictory? Because - although Christ's Presence unquestionably (in my mind) affected every single human soul the world over ... and by ripple effect, even all those alive today ... it is still true that not all were, or are yet, prepared to truly "receive Him." Nor shall we be, for many aeons to come.

    But I maintain that Christ did come for us ALL, He is reappearing now for us ALL, and in the end, His Universal Presence is likewise, for us ALL. That is the Omega, Teilhard de Chardin's Omega-Point. And what an insightful, open-minded Jesuit was Teilhard! :)


    Btw, I lost track, but wasn't there a Bible discussion thread/forum/area that was going to be set up, like the Interfaith Parsha (?) ... ? Some of those who no longer post were quite interested in it, I thought. Did it ever materialize?

    taijasi

    ADDED -
    Yes, RubySera, this is true ... even Christ's own closest Apostles did not really grasp his message, or have utmost faith in him. This just underscores how truly the real transformation lies within each of us, is UP TO us. And if THREE SOLID YEARS with the KING of Kings was not enough to fully deliver (so to speak) Christ's OWN chosen Apostles ... well then, errr, uhhh, AHEM! I respectfully submit that there's more to this little transformation than we sometimes might imagine (in terms of time, work, effort, changes in relationships, faith, etc.). ;)
     
  20. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Most assuredly I am very interested in a "Bible Study" for the Christian forum. I have not forgotten it, but am researching before committing (wouldn't want to go off half cocked and unprepared)...;)

    I also agree, Jesus was sad that He wasn't understood the way He hoped we would grasp His message. I believe the people of the time were looking for a flesh and blood King to establish a literal kingdom to rid the holy land of the Romans...

    v/r

    Q
     

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