Who was Jesus? What did he really say? And can we distinguish Jesus’ beliefs from those of the authors of the Gospels, written down more than a generation after Jesus’ death?
These are questions the Jesus Seminar has set out to answer. Since 1985, this group of biblical scholars has met twice a year to discuss, and vote on, the authenticity of Jesus’ sayings—and, more recently, his acts.
The seminar’s results—in particular, that Jesus never spoke most of the words attributed to him by the Gospels—have provoked impassioned, and sometimes unsavory, debate. A member of the seminar defends it and a critic responds.