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The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus

Polebridge Press
RRP: $55.95

Founded by Robert W Funk in 1985, The Jesus Seminar is a group of academic theologians who study Christian writings from the 1st to 3rd century of the Common Era in a quest to discover the historical Jesus and present their findings to the public.

The task being undertaken by the Jesus Seminar is to analyse the Bible in order to improve their understanding of it. Initially, their goal was to determine, historically speaking, what Jesus actually said.

The Acts of Jesus is the result of their second goal – to describe what can be historically determined that Jesus did.

The Acts of Jesus is a fresh and readable translation, one in which translators hope to effect for the reader an experience similar to that of the first readers (or listeners) of the original.

It goes beyond the scope of the canonical scriptures, with the inclusion of additional gospels including those discovered in the 20th century. These non-canonical gospels are used both as additional source material, and in their own right.

The Scholars Version translation uses contemporary colloquialisms and rough language where it is considered warranted in the Greek. The result is that the text itself is sometimes quite surprising, almost jarring. At times The Acts of Jesus seems quite repetitive, as it explores an act of Jesus from a number of gospels with slight variations before providing an analysis of the event.

The outcome of the deliberations of The Jesus Seminar on the authentic acts of Jesus outlined in this book will be hard for many to read, let alone agree with. But for those who wish to be aware of the increasing breadth of scholarship about Jesus Christ, this book is both interesting and challenging.

Reviewed by Karyl Davison Rural Ministry Consultant