Reviews - What do customers think about The Ungospel: The Life and Teachings of the Historical Jesus?
The teachings of a wise, compassionate, and intelligent human being Jul 6, 2008
It is fascinating and enlightening to explore the layers of development in the New Testament and to read a version that strips off the parts that do not seem to reflect the actual words and actions of Jesus.
It is a much more sympathetic view of Jesus than that laid out in the fully edited version with which I am more familiar. This is a Jesus that makes sense. So many things in the Gospels are contradictory, ridiculous, or just plain inaccurate that it destroys the credibility and appeal of the whole.
Some devout Christians may be worried that by deconstructing the Gospels Carver is lessening their impact. I would have to say that it has the opposite effect on a person who has rejected the whole "Jesus thing." It is true that all the claims of divinity, virgin birth, etc. pretty much drop by the wayside, but what is left is the teachings of a wise, compassionate, and intelligent human being who has much to say about the best way to lead one's life. It reads like the teachings of Zen master. The strong current of love for one's fellow man, the pursuit of peace, simplification, generosity, and humility is much more evident without all the later trappings.
What is sad, of course, is that the Christians were not content to take Jesus's teachings to heart. Instead, they layered them over with a lot of polemic, hocus pocus, and just plain meanness.
Of course, I have no way to evaluate the accuracy of this version of the NT, and my approval of it is related to my personal beliefs, which are quite liberal and somewhat socialist. I'm in favor of voluntary simplicity and opposed to wars. I cannot accept the notion of a divine human, let alone a virgin birth. Catholicism is full of dogma that insults my intelligence. The question rose in my mind as to why the Christians layered on all these other things, and Carver provides the background information that satisfies my curiosity.
This is the kind of book that gives scholarship a good name: carefully documented, thoroughly explained, but quite readable overall. Should be required reading for every Christian.