The following collection of resources on the web relates to The Jesus Seminar (hereafter TJS) and is current as of February 1997. If you encounter this page much later, do not be surprised if some (many?) of the links are “broken”–that seems to be inherent in the web. Brief citations are often given (indented and quoted) from the page itself. My own comments are sometimes added in colored (green) text.
This is not a bibliography of printed material on TJS. There is a paper discussing the impact of TJS posted at this site: “Preaching Jesus to Skeptics: A Response to the Popular Impact of the Jesus Seminar.”
Summary of TJS methodology and presuppositions
By Carl Conrad. This page is part of the “Jesus at 2000” and the related “Crosstalk” site/discussions. Good summary by a careful scholar.
The main page for the “Jesus at 2000” email debate between Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and Luke Timothy Johnson, including links to the full text of the debate as well as bios and photos of the participants, is at: http://www.harpercollins.com/sanfran/2000.htm
The Real Jesus?
By Richard Shand
A substantial, content-oriented discussion of Jesus from a perspective basically favorable to TJS. It includes linked pages to discussions of many aspects of Jesus’ life and the early church. (One of the most “technologically savvy, cutting-edge pages I’ve seen on the web; well designed and artistically superior–but don’t let the glitter be the persuasive fact in what you read!
Shand describes his perspective as follows:
“My earlier credulity in forces unseen gradually gave way to a profound skepticism which I retain today – although I accept that physical limitations on human perception and reasoning place rather stringent constraints on how much we can pretend to know.”
(His reference to his “earlier credulity” alludes to his earlier involvement in both the occult and in Scientology. This statement and other info about Shand may be found at: http://marlowe.wimsey.com/~rshand/profile.html)
Salt Lake Tribune article
This article summarizes the past activities of TJS as well as the plans of TJS/The Westar Institute for their future work (which will treat Paul and the rest of the NT to the same approach as they have used on both Jesus’ words and his deeds).
Jesus Seminar Under Fire
Stand to Reasoncommentary by Gregory Koukl, Saturday, March 11, 1995.
“You’ve got to know about this or otherwise you will be challenged by publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News & World Report, and Time Magazine–and all kinds of secular press– when they publish the garbage that the Jesus Seminar puts out as if it were fact when it is not.”
http://www.str.org/free/commentaries/apologetics/bible/jsuf.htm size 13K – 13 Aug 96
Debate Rages Over Jesus Seminar
By Matt Andrews, Midwest Today, March 1994. “Debate Rages over. the ‘Jesus Seminar.'”
“When 77 Biblical scholars claimed that Christ did not say about 80-percent of…”
http://www.midtod.com/bestof/jesus.html- size 16K – 30 Aug 96
“More information about the Jesus Seminar. Someone else’s book review of The Historical Jesus, which I have and plan to read. I’ve read the less scholarly…”
http://www.tronco.com/~markus/ministermore.html- size 6K – 11 Nov 96
Four Questions on the Jesus Seminar
Allan J. McNicol, Institute for Christian Studies, May 1996
“I want to talk today about why it is important for the minister to know something about the Jesus Seminar and why we…”
http://www.ics.edu/Papers/Allan_McNicol/Jesus_Seminar.html- size 11K – 6 Aug 96
The “Jesus Seminar” – A Summary
“The April 8, 1996 issue of Time Magazine contains a story on the ‘Jesus Seminar.’ The members of this seminar meet…”
A brief, popular-level, very negative summary.
http://www.calvarychapel.com/news/Seminar.htm – size 2K – 14 Oct 96
Anglican Takes on ‘Jesus Seminar’
Arlington Catholic HERALD 11/28/96,’ By Eric M. Johnson, Herald Staff Writer.
“Reports of Jesus’ death were not greatly exaggerated, according to a prominent…”
http://www.catholicnews.com/newspapers/ach/twright.htm- size 6K – 30 Nov 96
Being and Doing: Bagworms On The Tree Of Faith
By Dan E. Solomon, Contact, 3/22/96 web edition (United Methodist Church, Oklahoma Conference)
“I recently read a book by Luke Johnson that illumines the inadequacies of the…”
http://www.okumc.org/contact/03_22_96/being.html- size 5K – 14 Jul 96
The Truth About The Jesus Seminar
World Wide Christian Web – News and Commentary. Press Release – For Immediate Release. The Truth About The Jesus Seminar. Supposed Christian Organization, the Jesus…
– size 5K – 6 Nov 96
“While I am not a supporter of the ‘Jesus Seminar,’ and believe their conclusions about the New Testament & Jesus are based on…”
http://www.hiline.net/~wberkley/jwars.html- size 8K – 30 Sep 96
Response to the Jesus Seminar
“A Response to the Jesus Seminar and the Search for the Historic Jesus,” by The Revd. Grant S. Carey, Canon Presentor, Trinity Cathedral (Episcopal), Sacramento, California
“Scholars, researching first century Palestine, are attempting to reconstruct the Jesus of the New Testament, generally discrediting the accounts of those who, if not intimately involved with Jesus, were his contemporaries in time and place.”
http://www.trinitycathedral.org/jesus.htm- size 9K – 28 Nov 96
All about the Bible
The Five Gospels, by John Shaheed (The Muslim Homepage)
“The Five Gospels have many authors. It is the collective report of gospel scholars working closely together for six.”
A positive presentation of TJS results as part of an Islamic apologetic against Christianity.
[Note: this page had disappeared when I checked in mid-March. The home site is still functioning: http://www.ummah.org.uk/]
http://www.ummah.org.uk/bible/fivegosp.htm – size 10K – 5 Aug 96
Jesus: A Semantic Net
“CRAMER ON THE JESUS SEMINAR,” Bob Cramer
An enthusiastic popularizer of TJS:
“As an unanointed but excited mouthpiece for the Westar Institute, I can testify to the validity of the Seminar’s efforts to bolster ‘the human side’ of the Trinity, which has gotten short shrift in the past and gets even less attention in a growing number of North American churches today.”
“I follow Borg in preaching, with new vigor, a radically human Jesus and a God-and Spirit-filled cosmic Christ….”
“I personally want to put a positive spin on Westar’s efforts — and encourage criticism falling short of damnation. I think Funk has created something that will result in a much more radical, and true, Christianity in the Third Millennium, and I know of no peer at present.”
The home page cited below describes Cramer as:
“One of the major theorists of Christian apologetics in cyberspace. A lifetime in communications with a background as an ordained Ameican Baptist minister and current involvement in the United Church of Christ has led him to become an interpreter-observer of the work of the Jesus Seminar.”
http://www.renewal2.com/cmenu.htm- size 2K – 28 Nov 96
A review of Crossan’s book, The Historical Jesus
A favorable review of Crossan’s book, The Historical Jesus, by (atheist) Danny Yee:
“Obviously Christians from a range of theological positions will find the conclusions of this book unacceptable. Some of them may even perceive it as an attack on Christianity, but I believe that is unreasonable, as it is clear that the author is himself a devout Christian (though this is nowhere stated explicitly).”
Review of Gospel Truth? New Light on Jesus and the Gospels
by Stanton, Graham (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1995. Pp. viii + 215. $25.00.)
Reviewer: Craig A. Evans, Trinity Western University, Langley, BC,
“Professor Graham Stanton of King’s College, University of London, has written a much needed book for the nonexpert, who in recent years has been subjected to a plethora of extreme and in some cases outrageous claims in the popular press, as well as in books that pass as scholarly works (such as some of those produced by the Jesus Seminar), regarding the historical Jesus and the NT Gospels. Stanton is to be commended for taking the time to write such a book. To be sure, there is little in it that is new to NT scholars, but it is a book that teachers of religion can with confidence recommend to their students.”
The Jesus Seminar
By Jimmy Williams, Probe Ministries. A critical (i.e., negative) review of TJS.
(Also see Markus De Shon’s [negative] review of William’s article at: http://www.tronco.com/~markus/ministermore.html
Markus is a Ph.D. student in Nuclear Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology and (among other things) editor of a liberal political magazine called PolZine.)
Jesus Seminar Scholars Say Jesus Did Not Rise
By David W. Cloud, published in the O Timothy magazine, Volume 12, Issue 4, 1995, Way of Life Literature, Bible Baptist Church, Oak Harbor, WA
“According to a Religious News Service report for March 6, 1995, the Jesus Seminar has ‘concluded there is no evidence that the Easter resurrection was a physical reality.’ They conclude that ‘the story of the historical Jesus ended with his death on the cross and the decay of his body.’ Like all good Modernists, the Jesus Seminar fellows claim that ‘the religious significance of the resurrection does not depend on historical fact.’ Modernists claim that they are not tearing down people’s faith, since faith does not require an inspired Bible. Strange faith, theirs! The Modernist’s faith is like the Hindu’s; it is founded upon myth.”
What Did Jesus Really Say?
by David Weidlich, the intro to this popular-level critique of TJS:
“Did Jesus claim to be the Messiah? Did he promise to return and usher in a new age? Did he commission his disciples to convert the world and establish a church? ‘No, no,’ and ‘no,’ say the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar in their book, The Five Gospels.”
The Many Quests for the Historical Jesus
By Donald Wells (presentation for the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ashland, Oregon, on June 23, 1996.) From the conclusion:
“Evangelical Christians are perhaps well advised to steer clear of this search because their beliefs do not depend on any historical facts. Indeed, it is perhaps relevant that the current quests are led by more or less secular scholars, and not by believers. This is a topic where, for believers, ignorance is more blissful than knowledge.”
The Mystery of a Resurrected Rabbi: Jesus Provides the Way of Faith
By David A. Wade, Sojourners Online, 1996 Sojourners, January-February, 1996, Vol. 25, No. 1.
The Jesus Wars
A series of articles critical of TJS in Abundant Life, a monthly publication of the Westside Church of Christ, by Rusty Miller and Mark Roberts (Special Issue, n.d.)
The page noted below has links to the following articles in the series:
- Who Do Men Say That I Am?
- What is the Jesus Seminar and Who Cares?
- The “New” New Testament Scholarship
- Conducting the Quest for the “Real Jesus”
- Is John’s Gospel Historically Accurate?
- John’s Evidence for Jesus
- The Early Church’s View of Jesus
- Was Jesus’ Body Eaten By Dogs?
- What About Extra-Biblical Sources?
- Who Do You Say That I Am?
Major news magazines’ coverage
In Search of Jesus
By Jefferey Sheler, a Holy Week cover story from U.S. News and World Report, 4/8/96:
Who Was Jesus?
By Jefferey Sheler, a special report from U.S. News and World Report, 12/20/93
The Gospel Truth?
By David Van Biema, a Holy Week cover story from Time Magazine, April 8, 1996 Volume 147, No. 15.
“A provocative conclave of biblical scholars has argued that the Gospels cannot be trusted as a history of Jesus. Now, not only are more traditional academics taking them on with savage rebuttals but the controversy is also spilling over into the mainstream, to the consternation and confusion of the Christian faithful.”
(By Richard N. Ostling and Lisa H.Towle; authorship not clear from the online version; Van Biema’s name appears at the beginning of the article, but Ostling and Towle at the end.)
JESUS CHRIST, PLAIN AND SIMPLE
TIME Domestic, January 10, 1994 VOL. 143 NO. 2
A trinity of new, scholarly books tries to strip away the traditional Gospel accounts of the man from Nazareth
By RICHARD N. OSTLING
“Who do you say that I am?” When Jesus posed this question to his disciples in Matthew’s Gospel, Peter emphatically and faithfully replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And what might the answer be today? Three newly published scholarly books put forward a startlingly revisionist reply. While Jesus may have been a carpenter, that probably meant he was illiterate and belonged to a low caste of artisans. He did not preach salvation from sin through sacrifice; he never said “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God”; neither did he say “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” For that matter, he probably never delivered the Sermon on the Mount. As for the question posed to Peter and the disciples, Jesus never asked it. And he never c ured any diseases. As for the other miracles? No loaves and fishes, no water into wine, no raising of Lazarus. And certainly no resurrection. What happened to his body then? Most likely it was consumed by wild dogs.
Until now, this sort of Bah, humbug! approach to the Scriptures was in full display largely in the rarefied and theologically correct atmosphere of seminaries and elite universities. John Dominic Crossan, a Bible scholar at DePaul University, notes that there was an “implicit deal – you scholars can go off to the universities and write in the journals and say anything you want.” Now, he says, “the scholars are coming out of the closet,” demanding public attention for the way they think…
[from the intro to the article]
In the January 31, 1994 Volume 143, No. 5 issue of Time, the following letter by Howard Clark Kee (Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Boston Univ.) appears in response to the previous article. (You will have to scroll down a ways to find the letter since there are a number of letters on this same page, several of which relate to this article. Look for the heading: “The Spirit of Christ.”)
“In spite of their avowed claim to scholarly objectivity, the revisionist biblical scholars who are members of the Jesus Seminar are in search of alternative reconstructions of Jesus that will be free of intellectually embarrassing features such as healings and predictions of a new era…”
The Message of Miracles
TIMEDomestic, April 10, 1995 Volume 145, No. 15, By Nancy Gibbs
“As the faithful hunger for them, scholars rush to debunk and to doubt. Can we afford to believe?”
Rethinking the Resurrection
The text of a Holy Week cover story from Newsweek by Kenneth Woodward (4/8/96, pp. 60-70)
(This is NOT an official Newsweek site; it appears on the anti-Christian, “antichrist.com” site, apparently as one of their
arguments against Christianity. If a link to an official version can be found, it will be referenced here later. Please advise if you know where it can be found.)