DELETED SCENES show up in the movies.
How about one from a book?
Here’s a sidebar the editor decided to delete from Understanding Jesus: A Guide to His Life and Times.
I think it’s interesting.
And it illustrates how some skeptical Bible experts have struggled in an effort to get to know Jesus.
So here you go.
Jesus on the ballot
Perhaps more infamous than famous—especially among evangelical scholars—a group of about 200 religion experts known as the Jesus Seminar took a democratic approach to figuring out who Jesus really was.
Scholars in this group, founded in 1985, cast votes on which words in the Bible they thought really came from the mouth of Jesus. They also voted on which reported acts Jesus really performed.
Each scholar voted with colored marbles: red, pink, gray, and black.
The intent was to follow the example of red-letter editions of the Bible, in which the words of Jesus appear in red.
Drawing on their years of experience in studying the Gospels and ancient history, scholars used red marbles to vote for any words of Jesus they consider most definitely legit.
Color code, simplified by one of the scholars:
Red: THAT’S JESUS! (3 points)
Pink: Sure sounds like Jesus. (2 points)
Gray: Well, maybe. (1 point)
Black: There’s been some mistake. (0 points)
Points were tallied and divided by the number of voters. Then the numbers were converted to percentages.
A 75 –100% majority vote earned red. Fifty to 74% earned pink, and at least 25% earned gray.
When scholars counted their marbles, the voting revealed that for about every five words the Gospels said Jesus spoke, scholars gave the red marble to only one.
Here’s how they voted on the Lord’s Prayer:
OUR FATHER in the heavens, your name be revered. Impose your imperial rule, enact your will on earth as you have in heaven. Provide us with the bread we need for today. Forgive our debts to the extent that we have forgiven those in debt to us. And please don’t subject us to test after test, but rescue us from the evil one.
—Matthew 6:9-13, Scholar’s Version, Jesus Seminar
These scholars agreed that Jesus said the first two words.
They also figured he might have said something like the bold-text half of the prayer, too. As for the rest of the prayer: doubtful or worse.
That’s actually generous of them, because they couldn’t attract enough red marbles to attribute a single word in John’s Gospel to Jesus.
Critics of the Jesus Seminar argue that there are only about a dozen top scholars in this group, and that the Seminar doesn’t represent a fair cross-section of scholarly opinion.