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Will the Real Jesus Please Step Forward: Many Stories, Few Facts

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Biblical scholars report that at the time the Council of Hippo sanctioned 27 books for the New Testament in 393 C.E. there existed as many as a hundred or more alternative Gospels presenting descriptions of Jesus' life and teachings different from the versions adopted by the Church. The Church condemned, burned, and banned them--even denying their existence. The discovery in the Egyptian desert in 1945 of the Nag Hamadi library containing fifty-two Gnostic treatises, including several alternative Gospels, suggests that there were far more that have not survived.

Scholar Bart Ehrman, in his book Misquoting Jesus, documents that not only were many alternative Gospels destroyed and denied reproduction but that the sanctioned Gospels are inaccurate. Ehrman shows that in the process of oral transmission over decades, followed by translations from Coptic and Greek into Latin, many original accounts were lost or changed. Contributing to the problem of authenticity, he notes that no one has ever found an original copy of any of the books in the bible. Also, different scribes entered variations and also added their own beliefs or wishful thinking to the contents.

Although alternative Gospels may be appealing, convincing, inspiring, or may even reflect actual historical facts, they have had virtually no impact on what Christians believe; the New Testament "facts" have had almost exclusive impact.

But, as I argue in Jesus Uncensored, the "functional facts" of the canonical Gospels and the rest of the New Testament have been misread and misinterpreted. Moreover, the distortions were driven by Christian and Jewish leaders who were intent on imposing wedges to distance the two faiths as separate religions. In that process Jesus, the authentic dedicated practicing Jew, was lost. Restoring Jesus' Jewish identity sets a firm foundation for Christians and Jews to celebrate a shared heritage despite differences.

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Bernard Starr, PhD is a psychologist,journalist, and professor emeritus at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College. His latest book is "Jesus,Jews, and Anti-Semitism in Art:How Renaissance Art Erased Jesus' Jewish Identity and How (more...)

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The search for the historical facts about Jesus, a... by Bernard Starr on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013 at 11:20:01 AM
...take your pick from the smorgasbord of stories ... by Bernard Starr on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013 at 11:56:07 AM
Mr. Starr touches on the fact that Jesus adopted t... by E. J. N. on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013 at 1:03:57 PM
but it seems that Mr. Starr does not care much for... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013 at 1:37:30 PM
He wants to promote his book, he is however postin... by Bill Johnson on Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 10:04:47 AM
Teachings, oral and written, are one way we gather... by Philip Pease on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013 at 2:22:19 PM
Yes, Huxley and Bucke, and Yung, for that matter, ... by E. J. N. on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 3:30:45 PM
To the degree Jesus is depicted as an earthling, h... by Robert S. Becker on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 4:36:46 PM
Anyone who has had an experience of Cosmic Conscio... by Philip Pease on Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 9:50:43 AM
One cannot truly understand why Jesus said that he... by E. J. N. on Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 10:57:53 AM
I think this is the most honest piece that Mr. Sta... by anna kakol on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013 at 10:05:26 PM
Clearly Mr. Starr has read relevant books, but his... by Robert S. Becker on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 2:19:13 PM
Jesus may not actually exist, but if He does, He s... by Steve Hopkins on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 6:19:33 AM
to read this article.  I believe in the Jesus... by Suzana Megles on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 1:47:15 PM
And is the child of Revelations 12.  John Len... by Michael Dewey on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 4:43:41 PM
The question is not, whether Jesus was Jewish or n... by Peter Duveen on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 9:20:05 PM
The vast majority of Jews now do not regard Jesus ... by E. J. N. on Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 11:33:45 AM
Where stars and hosts are dragged out of heaven, a... by Michael Dewey on Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 12:31:26 PM
Michael, see the message I sent to you privately.... by E. J. N. on Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 4:19:41 PM