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Hidden Gospels: How The Search For Jesus Lost Its Way

July 5, 2012

Hidden Gospels: How The Search For Jesus Lost Its Way by Philip Jenkins (Oxford Press, 2001) is the clearest refutation of extreme critical New Testament scholarship that I have ever read. Dr. Philip Jenkins as distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University is uniquely capable of handeling the interface between the New Testament Cannon (Religion) and  the dating of other ancient religious writings (history). In addition to great quotes which begin every chapter Dr. Jenkins discusses by name the history, popular cultural influences, media, academic and spiritual impactors of the claim that recently discovered texts such as THOMAS undermine the historical validity of the New Testament and debunks them all. The Jesus Seminar and its wide spread influence is a particular focus of critique. The book is accessible to any serious reader but don’t be fooled the “notes” section begins on page 217 and concludes on page 248-a full 31 pages of documentation and scholarly citation. Chapter 5 Hiding Jesus: The Church and the heretics explores the broad range of implications for promoting alternative Gospels as authoritative in many different contexts including issues of basic authority,feminism media and commercial publishing. If you want or need to own one book on the issue of Why the Biblical Gospels are superior to all other ancient “religious  unorthodox” writings you can do no better than this book. The only slight downside is that it was published before the recent Dan Brown phenomenon in fiction so those specific charges and claims are not specifically addresses. But Jenkins does include an almost encyclopedia discussion on other fictional accounts of “Gospels” and alternative lives of Christ. If the book were updated it would be absolutely perfect as it is it is still the beast resource I have ever read on this topic and I will be quoting from it and recommending it highly this fall in Introduction to Theology (THE 201).

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