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.
Stephen, I love this sidebar in your book and since you never give your opinion – I will give mine – the little bit of “marbles” I have!
1. The “Lord’s Prayer” was a model prayer and existed during that time – many Jews prayed it.
2. Church history – something these so called “Bible scholars” never take into consideration when they make their assertions- have written that these are what Christ said: Polycarp, Clement of Rome, etc – Apostolic Fathers of the next generation. Wouldn’t I trust them more than modern liberal scholars?
3. And finally, the belief in objective revelation from God – the Scriptures ( I am not talking about the inerrancy debate) – most of these scholars are archaeologists and disgruntled clergy and are on the fringe of the church world and do not believe in inspiration of Scripture.
Using “marbles” is so appropriate for this group…Lol. I will now take my Zoloft early today!
There is something about this whole concept that makes me just a bit uncomfortable. Scholars deciding what is and isn’t true.
These are the same guys who decided that a Holy Trinity exists even though it’s never mentioned in the Bible — and now they’re using the same intellectual analysis and scholarly study to decide that large portions of the Bible aren’t worth taking seriously?
By the time these guys get done, there may not be anything left but “In the beginning” and “Amen”. I mean, at some point we have to have some sort of unquestionable point of reference or we might as well just throw the whole book out and go with our best guesses.