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The Gospel of Jesus: A Historical Search for the Original Good News [Paperback]

James M. Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (1 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006085829X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060858292
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,963,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The challenge to trust in G-d 18 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A book by a distinguished academician which draws together his well considered view of the real message of Jesus. No great philosophical ideas here, but the rather startling realisation of what Jesus really demanded ie full trust in a personal G-d. There are some very good explanations of how Jesus drew inspiration from the natural world around him. Dare you join this band of real believers and if not what will you do instead? It is a brave author who gives the full outline of his book in the Introduction but that is what you will find here, so that there will be no misunderstandings as you read the entire book. A really refreshing change from all the over elaborate books of complicated thoughts. Heartily recommended.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest Approach 6 Feb 2006
By Calvin Durham - Published on
I thoughourly enjoyed this book. That said, let me also mention my approach to my own Christianity, which is open to other views and honest reflection in addition to the ability to attempt to accept the reality of the times in which Jesus lived. This is Robinson's approach.

If you are of the ilk where you consider anything other than the gospel accounts as beyond the pale or the New Testament without any flaw or agenda from its authors, then this may be a book difficult for your views...I believe this is borne out in at least one other reviewer's review. However, if you can accept to see Jesus in his historical context and accept the reality of his human side as well as the Gospels writers intentions and attitudes for writing their particular Gospels, then you will enjoy this book.

Robininson, in a very readable manner, provides background and a scholarly approach to Jesus in context without getting bogged down in "high-brow" academic writings. Be warned however, that he is honest in his approach to his subject matter as a historian and not as a theologian. If an academic and historical context in which to view the gospels (as well as the elusive "Q Gospel") is to your interest, then you have a book that will suit you fine. If you are the type where anyone attempting to present the humanity of Jesus as a first century Jew without the trappings of theology, then this may not be the book for you.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 26 Jan 2006
By Kevin D. Huddleston - Published on
What Robinson does in this very accessible book is to boil down a great deal of scholarship into a readable, powerful and fascinating book that will challenge you and change your view of what Jesus really meant when he called people to follow him. Robinson challenges the easy-believism so prominent in Evangelicalism and reveals why following Jesus involves MUCH MORE that just believing things *about* him or "trusting" in him. Excellent!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Author Versus Publisher's Publicist 30 Jan 2009
By John Howard Reid - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Normally I would award five stars to a work so scholarly and challenging. But thanks to the efforts of the publisher's publicist, many readers are going to feel somewhat disappointed. The publicist assures that in this book, Robinson will "address such provocative questions as: "What can we know about Jesus's [sic] childhood and youth? What was his family like? What sort of education did he receive? How observant a Jew was he? What do we know about his sex life? What do we know about his relationship to Mary Magdalene?" The answers for all these questions, except His religious observance or non-observance, seem to be "virtually nothing." True, Robinson does concentrate on an additional question posed by the publicist, namely "What message did Jesus really preach?" In fact, this is the burden of his entire book, and to answer this question, Professor Robinson draws extensively on his reconstruction of "Document Q". This is a controversial if brilliant example of Biblical scholarship. I am 95% in agreement with it, but I know there are other experts who would (a) not rate "Q" so highly and (b) not treat it with the same degree of overwhelming importance as Robinson does. If I have been a little hard on Robinson's magnum opus, thanks to its publicist, you can also blame the publisher for failing to provide an Index, surely a sine qua non for a Biblical thesis such as this.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One scholar's attempt to evangelize 5 Nov 2011
By Daiho - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a disappointing read. Perhaps I was expecting too much. Robinson is an established scholar, so I presumed the book might be a little weightier, something more scholarly and a little less evangelistic. I was also hoping Robinson might help me get a grasp on what seems (as I read more about Jesus) increasingly ungraspable, the "true" teaching of the prophet from Nazareth.

As Robinson notes, Jesus was not a trained theologian. He had no programmatic philosophy and taught extemporaneously through question and answer and through stories and aphorisms. His ministry was short-lived, and no one took the time to record what he was saying. This has led to the very unsatisfying 2000 year argument over what Jesus really meant. Robinson reduces Jesus' message to God reigning: "Trust God to look out for you by providing people who will care for you, and listen to him when he calls on you to provide for them." While this is certainly a healthier and saner way to live than through suspicion and fear, the idea can be posited without recourse to the divine: Trust your conscience, rather than a deity. As Robinson notes, Jesus' day was full of God talk. It's the way people of that place and time understood the world. If you prefer, you can trust in a natural law of reciprocity, which is what the Buddhists have in karma, in which skillful behavior (that which reduces or avoids suffering) creates conditions suitable for future skillful behavior. Like generates like.

The more surprising disappointment was Robinson ignoring what is perhaps the most important act in Jesus' teaching career. Robinson makes the case that Jesus' way of living and his actions speak as clearly as his statements about his gospel. This seems perfectly reasonable and Robinson provides many examples. But he is strangely silent on the Temple. If, as Robinson argues, Jesus' gospel was about living in the here and now, the experience of god reigning in the present through each and every person, an immanent reciprocity of loving kindness, why then did Jesus act so provocatively? How is this an example of God reigning? How was Jesus providing for others by overturning tables and mentioning the destruction of the Temple? Perhaps because Jesus wasn't just living in the moment, but planning for the future Kingdom? Perhaps because he wanted to precipitate it's coming? Perhaps because he imagined God working through him in this way to bring the Kingdom to fruition?

Moreover, if Jesus' message was simply "love all," why was there such antipathy toward him? How could anyone generate enough hatred to want someone killed simply for asking people to love one another? Are you prepared to have someone put to death for this? Why were the authorities ready to execute rather than simply to send him away with a flogging? Could it be that Jesus was not such a light-hearted soul of nature, but rather had a touch of the smug, that he irritated many by violating the Jewish dining laws, by suggesting that even the wicked would have a place in God's kingdom, and by suggesting that he had a direct line to God (and by implication that they did not)? Were his actions at the Temple the most dramatic examples of his propensity to piss people off? In other words, was Jesus the kind of guy that was always in your face? Was he a religious fanatic? His family certainly thought something was wrong with him.

Robinson argues that Jesus was not expecting an immediate cataclysm, that he was not, as EP Sanders best describes him, a "radical eschatologist." He uses an odd bit of logic to make his case. Jesus, he says, wasn't waiting for God to act since Jesus' entire message would have been invalidated with the passage of time. How then to explain Matthew, who promises that "the Son of Man is about to come" and that "some of those standing here...will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom," and the very real concern in the early church that members were dying even though Jesus hadn't yet reappeared. This was a major issue for the early church, which suggests that at least at that time Christians believed Jesus' return was imminent. That it was in fact not imminent appears to have had little negative consequences for the church, at least for the recruitment of members.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sayings Gospel of Q explained 13 Dec 2013
By Richard C. Smith - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book provides a understanding of Jesus' own teachings based on the latest biblical scholarship into all the literature - canonical and non-canonical in an accessible style. It set out the sayings Gospel of Q that has emerged from all this research. The author also contrasts these teachings with those that emerge from Paul, both the similarities and differences. It is a short and highly readable book. One of the most inspiring that I have read about the historical Jesus.
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