Honest to Jesus

Robert Funk's Honest to Jesus was reviewed by Alan Goss of the NZ SoF Network.

A definitive book about the historical Jesus has never nor ever will be written, but this volume by Robert Funk, the founder of the Jesus Seminar, is a significant milestone. Even Funk's staunchest opponents must give credit where credit is due.

The aim of this book is to rescue Jesus from the creedal and scriptural prisons in which he is incarcerated. He needs to be distinguished from the reports about him preserved in the gospels since that Jesus is, in large part, the product of his early admirers. Scholars must therefore try to sift out what we can know historically about Jesus the Galilean from the portrait of Christ produced by each of the evangelists.

Those engaged in this new quest sharply distinguish the historical Jesus from the Jesus of the gospels and the Christ of the creeds. Funk contends that Jesus' followers, rather than focussing on Jesus' vision of God's kingdom or domain—which was his priority—directed most of their attention at Jesus himself. The vision was replaced by the visionary, the iconoclast was converted into an idol. The intention was to market the messiah. In so doing Jesus followers cloaked the irreligious, irreverent and impious Galilean sage with layers of interpretation, transforming him into the martyred righteous one or the dying/rising lord of Gentile christianity.

The real flesh and blood Jesus, whom we yearn for, was displaced.

This book will help not only those within the church who are questioning its beliefs and practices but also those outside the insitution who think christianity is a tradition worth reforming and saving. Robert Funk's contribution will inevitably precipitate some thunderstorms. But at least they help to clear the air.