Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way
Book: Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way , by P. Jenkins, Philip Jenkins, ISBN10: 0195156315, ISBN13: 9780195156317, Oxford University Press, USA, December 2002, Paperback
Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of many books, including Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Social Crisis, Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History, and The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.
Was Jesus really a subversive mystic whose true teachings were suppressed by an authoritarian church? Has the real nature of Christianity been deliberately obscured for centuries? Do recently discovered texts such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and even the Dead Sea Scrolls undermine the historical validity of the New Testament?
In this incisive critique, Philip Jenkins thoroughly and convincingly debunks such claims. Jenkins places the recent controversies surrounding the hidden gospels in a broad historical context and argues that, far from being revolutionary, such attempts to find an alternative Christianity date back at least to the Enlightenment. And by employing the appropriate scholarly and historical methodologies, he demonstrates that the texts purported to represent pristine Christianity were in fact composed long after the canonical gospels found in the Bible. Produced by obscure heretical movements, these texts offer no reliable new information about Jesus or the early church. They have attracted so much media attention chiefly because they seem to support radical, feminist, and post-modern positions in the modern church. Indeed, Jenkins shows how best-selling books on the "hidden gospels" have been taken up by an uncritical, scandal-hungry media as the basis for a social movement that could have dramatic effects on the faith and practice of contemporary Christianity.
Brilliantly researched and sharply argued, Hidden Gospels unearths both the complex agendas and flawed methods of scholars who have created a whole new mythology about Jesus and the early church.
About the Author:
Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of many books, including Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Social Crisis and Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. He lives in University Park, PA.
In addition to attempting to find postmodern, multiple, nontraditional interpretations of traditional biblical texts, the renowned Jesus Seminar has published texts from outside the traditional canon, heralding them as new discoveries that suggest reinterpretation of traditional Christian theology and practice. In this book, Jenkins counters the interpretations of Jesus Seminar scholars, concisely and evenhandedly introducing their theories and presenting historical and textual evidence to contradict them. He questions their "discoveries" of texts that have been known to biblical scholars for at least two hundred years, challenges their dating of texts in order to impart them greater weight and traces many of their purportedly new interpretations to age-old traditions ("heresies" to the early Church) such as Gnosticism. He ascribes to the seminar scholars "inverted fundamentalism," claiming that these critics, ironically, assign great authority to historically questionable noncanonical texts, such as The Gospel of Thomas, while simultaneously challenging the authority and validity of the long-established canon. He attributes this bias to both a postmodern search for meaning and a lay audience hungry for religious truth, while noting that only new interpretations advance academic careers and attract media attention. In short, he argues that the Jesus Seminar offers nothing new under the sun. Jenkins closes out this forceful critique by noting "we can only hope" that when new biblical texts surface, they might be "evaluated on their merits, and not solely for their value in cultural battles." (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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