Thursday, December 31, 2009

WHAT WOULD JESUS SAY? At the Bible and Interpretation website, Professor Gerd Lüdemann has a brief essay on "What Jesus Never Said," i.e., the sayings of Jesus recorded in the canonical and noncanonical gospels which are judged to be inauthentic by modern scholars. Excerpt:
It has long been a truism of Biblical criticism that the New Testament abounds in examples of words attributed to Jesus both incorrectly and subsequent to the actual or purported events to which those utterances are related. In reconstructing what Jesus actually did say, researchers have largely ignored the invented sayings in order to concentrate on the authentic passages. Exhaustive work has been done in the latter domain – examining how the sayings are connected and attempting to determine their specific context – in order to assemble as complete a picture as possible.

In this essay I propose to inspect the other side of the coin by considering a selection of the inauthentic words of Jesus – both clearly invented sayings and those that reveal noteworthy alterations to what must have been their original form. In the latter cases, of course, it will be necessary to include both versions. My collection of inauthentic logia will, I trust, enable the reader to see the fictional sayings as a collective phenomenon worthy of serious consideration. At the same time, they will yield an important image of the early Christian mentality and thus a better concept of how the early church came into being.
Oddly, the essay does not cite or quote a single saying of Jesus, authentic or inauthentic, although it does manage to quote the Apostle Paul twice. Apparently this is a teaser for the author's 2001 and 2008 books. But an example or two would have been nice.