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The Jesus Sayings

Author sheds light on how the Gospels came to be written

By Janet Silman

The Jesus Sayings: The Quest for his Authentic Message
By Rex Weyler
(Anansi) $29.95

After thinking, Oh no, do we need another book trying to ferret out what Jesus really said? I was pleasantly surprised by The Jesus Sayings. Often writing like a good historical detective novelist, author Rex Weyler recounts the discoveries of ancient manuscripts that shed light on how the Gospels came to be written. Without being sensationalist or bogging down in scholastic minutiae, he describes the complex process by which biblical scholars work backward from the ancient texts to search out the words and stories of a first-century Galilean man named Yeshua (Jesus). Culling a century of biblical research, Weyler identifies the core of Yeshua’s original message. It soon becomes apparent why sifting pearls of wisdom from accretions of mythology and politics still matters.

“Find your inner light, share it with the world, give to others, eschew wealth, shun violence, avoid rules and heal the sick.” There’s more — commit fully, be humble, speak out, teach others, love everybody — but that’s essentially it. Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God, something Weyler argues that Jesus envisioned not in the future but present here and now when people actually live what he taught.

Weyler compares Jesus’ wisdom to that of other great teachers such as the Buddha, Lao Tzu and Socrates. But he points out that turning spiritual philosophy into social action is something new with Yeshua.

I, too, believe the historical Jesus called for social justice. My biblical teachers warned me, though, that most quests for the historical Yeshua find a Jesus who holds values suspiciously like those of the seeker. Still, maybe in this case Weyler is, even inadvertently, on the path of that enigmatic first-century figure. Hence, he’s not reading into Jesus something not authentically there.

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