The following are excerpts from the Introduction of the book in question, which is all that I’ve read of it to-date. The book is clearly of the type belonging to the “quest for the historical Jesus” genre, and the Amazon.com reader reviews range from high praise to outright dismissal. I have generally stayed away from books of this kind for several years, but this one came to my attention and I thought I’d give it a shot. Regardless of what comes after, these words from the Introduction strike a responsive chord with me:
[Jesus’] basic issue, still basic today, is that most people have solved the human dilemma for themselves at the expense of everyone else, putting them down so as to stay afloat themselves. …
…Jesus came to grips with the basic intentions of people. He addressed them personally, as to what kind of people they were. He called on them – he did not just teach them ideas. When we take his sayings and distill from them our doctrines, what we have really done is manipulate his sayings for our own purposes, first of all, for the purpose of avoiding his personal address to us. Without realizing it, we reclassify his sayings as objective teachings to which we can give intellectual assent, rather than letting them strike home as the personal challenge he intended them to be. The issue is not what we think about them, but rather what we do about them.
~ James M. Robinson, The Gospel of Jesus
Are we just intellectual Spin Doctors and armchair disciples?