The Five Gospels answers these questions in a bold, dynamic work that will startle traditional readers of the Bible and rekindle interest in it among secular skeptics. In 1985 the Jesus Seminar, comprising a distinguished group of biblical scholars, was founded by Robert W. Funk. They embarked on a new translation and assessment of the gospels, including the recently discovered Gospel of Thomas. In pursuit of the historical Jesus, they used their collective expertise to determine the authenticity of more than fifteen hundred sayings attributed to him. Their remarkable findings appear in this book.
The Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars who have attempted to locate the authentic words of Jesus, made headlines two years ago by reporting that, of the entire Lord's Prayer as found in Matthew, the only words that could conclusively be attributed to Jesus are ``Our Father.'' In this book they have published their results. This new translation of the four gospels, augmented by the noncanonical Gospel of Thomas, presents Jesus' words printed in colored code: red for words Jesus almost certainly spoke, pink for his probable locutions, gray for the less than likely, and black for the implausible. The translation itself is far more colloquial than most. More germane, though, is that the four levels of authenticity were determined by the casting of ballots, which the editors admit is problematic and represents the fundamental weakness of the book. Whether Jesus actually spoke certain words matters little in the long view of Christianity, making this book a theological curiosity and religiously superfluous.-- W. Alan Froggatt, Bridgewater, Ct.