cover image HIDDEN GOSPELS: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way

HIDDEN GOSPELS: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way

Philip Jenkins, HIDDEN GOSPELS: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way

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)