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Hardcover Gospel Truth Book

ISBN: 1573220566

ISBN13: 9781573220569

Gospel Truth

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Book Overview

Biblical scholars--once the guardians of Christian theology-- are now using the tools of anthropology, linguistics, and computer science to probe the ancient question Who was Jesus? The result is a radical revision of the gospel story that is both surprisingly vivid and, to some people, deeply shocking.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Balanced, Informative Account of the New Testament's Origins

For those with a genuine curiosity about the origin of the Bible's four Gospels and the conclusions of biblical scholars committed to separating truth from fiction, this book may truly enhance your understanding of one of the world's most dominant religions. It is well organized and well written. It is never, however, dry. Rather, it is so balanced and informative that I found it difficult to put down. For those who were raised Christian, but seeking answers, this book will likely challenge, if not shake, your belief in the "divinity" of the Bible. For Christian fundamentalists, who irrationally attack anyone who objectively scrutinizes their sacred text, this book is heresy. Importantly, the author makes no effort to incite the reader, only educate him.

An EXCELLENT Introduction to Historical Jesus Research

Russell Shorto's *Gospel Truth* is the book all of us interested in the "historical Jesus" wish we could have written. It is well-written, comprehensive, fair-minded and above all, written with great clarity of thought. For those who are new to this field of study or know someone who is, Shorto's book is the best I have found for getting a good overview of modern biblical scholarship. It can be hard to decide whom to believe: Spong, Crossan, Borg, etc. This book gives a concise summary of the views of a range of scholars as well as the author's own opinions. However, Shorto does not come across as dogmatic about many issues, leaving the ultimate decision to the reader. Why can't all books be this easy to understand *and* informative?

A Well Told Story

Books are finite products written for specific purposes. In this work, the author is very explicit about his aims and goals: this book was written by a journalist to tell a story about recent historical Jesus scholarship. With that purpose in mind, the book is a huge success and something of an intellectual tour de force. Those expecting original scholarship or conclusions backed by detailed argumentation are missing the point. It is especially disingenuous, as one reviewer has done, to take material out of context as exemplary of the author's use of "unsupported assumptions." The detailed scholarship and arguments are to be found in the works cited by Shorto and the reader is referred to them for further study. As one who has read and studied most of the works in the reference list, I can attest to the masterful job Shorto has performed in making sense of a huge amount of scholarship. I literally could not put it down and finished it the day I purchased it. Since many of us get caught up in the trees and miss the forest, Shorto's book serves a great service by bringing the contours of the forest of historical Jesus scholarship in sharp focus. Highly recommended.

A clear unbiased summary of historical Jesus research

& #65279; Shorto's Gospel Truth is a discussion of various conclusions drawn by many biblical scholars searching for the historical Jesus (as opposed to the Christ of faith), which will disappoint Fundamentalists. Shorto is a journalist rather than a biblical scholar, but he has a good grasp of recent research in this field. He has done his homework, which included personal interviews with some scholars. Considering the topic, the book is surprisingly easy to read. He has no axe to grind, as do most biblical scholars, so his presentation is relatively fair. Although he devotes the most space to the Jesus Seminar and Crossan, he does present alternative viewpoints. He discusses some aspects of the work of Sanders, Frederiksen, Schillebeeckx, Funk, Borg, Mack, Raymond Brown, John Meier, Spong, N.T. Wright, and others, as well as the criticisms of William Craig. The current trend among Bible scholars is the historical approach. Shorto states "The historical Jesus movement has not only taken over New Testament studies but has swept into the popular consciousness" thanks primarily to the publicity surrounding the Jesus Seminar. The ranks of historical scholars includes ministers and priests. "Far from trying to undo Christianity, many of them [historical scholars] were working toward a new definition of it." Because the evidence about the historical Jesus is so sparse, the conclusions drawn by all historical scholars are tentative. Every author has at least some bias, and it is primarily for this reason that there are so many different viewpoints. Although the Jesus Seminar has contributed greatly to the historical Jesus study, in reference to their minority opinion that Jesus was noneschatological, Paula Fredriksen [quoted by Shorto] claims "Basically what they're doing is relieving themselves of the embarrassment of having a Jesus who is so terribly wrong about something." There is, however, a consensus among historical scholars that the following are not factual: birth narratives, nature miracles, and most of the passion narrative. Shorto emphasizes the Jewishness of Jesus. Following the majority of scholars, he accepts the primacy of Mark. He states "many if not most scholars who accept the Q theory are Christian clerics." He debunks the recent claim of extremely early fragments of Matthew. Concerning the kingdom of God, Jesus "seems never to have defined it the same way twice, and every definition he gave seemed to cause as much confusion as insight." Concerning the crucifixion, Shorto says "A remarkable number of the details of the scene in the gospels seem to come directly from Psalm 22." "Jesus saw the Old Testament prophecies about to be fulfilled by him, on earth." He has some unusual chapter titles; one I particularly enjoyed was THE BIG DIPPER, which refers to John the Baptist.

A masterful survey of the "Quest for the Historical Jesus">

For the past fifteen years I have avidly read just about every major work and every major author in the scholarly "Quest for the Historical Jesus". I picked up Russell Shorto's "Gospel Truth" expecting just another superficial, possibly biased, layman's survey of the field. What I found quite frankly surprised and pleased me. It is indeed a survey work but Shorto has done his homework in depth. His presentation is comprehensive, balanced and unbiased. His writing is most readable, even entertaining. His own questions of the scholars and his own insights demonstrate his thorough mastery of this very large body body of literature. For the layman with an interest in the field looking for an introductory work and even for the more advanced student looking for a work to tie it all together, "Gospel Truth" is it. I recommend it heartily!Alastair MacDonald
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