The Quotes of Jesus.

Thousands of times a day, people quote Jesus.  I have sat in church pews and heard quotes from Jesus.

There is no record of anyone who wrote the quotes being present when the words were spoken.  We have no record of who was present.

Educated people back at the time when the Bible was written would not have believed these were the actual words of Jesus.  Belief they are literal is a more modern concept.

The style of writing about events back at that time was to tell the story through the voice of someone supposedly involved.  But, it was not actual speech. It was made up by the writer.

The writer may have been based it on something he had read or heard about.  But, it was not the actual spoken word.

The source for this is the Greek historian, Thucydides (460-395 BC).  He wrote histories of events of that time and included many “speeches”.  But, he made it clear he had made up the speeches to conform to, “What is called for in each situation.”

Bart Ehrman points to this practice in the Book of Acts.  There, Peter, an uneducated lower class fisherman who speaks Aramaic is “quoted”, as is Paul, an educated intellectual who speaks Greek.

Why would their speeches sound almost exactly alike, Ehrman asks?  It’s because the unknown writer, called Luke, wrote them both.

It would be wise to take the “words of Jesus” with a grain of salt.

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Thucydides

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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27 Responses to The Quotes of Jesus.

  1. Stanta says:

    If you have read the so called quotes, and understand the message, you may learn something on how he wants us to treat others. If they aren’t His words we truly had a very wise and wonderful person doing the authorship.

  2. Roberto says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/hermaphrodite-sea-slug-mates-throwaway-penis-001103527.html

    i’d like to hear an agnostic/evolutionist explain this. thanks.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Roberto 3:26 Thanks for the first time comment. All comments are welcome

      “I’d like to hear an agnostic/evolutionist explain this.”

      I did take a look at the article and there is an evolutionary explaination included. It is that that particular way of reproduction is competes better than others, thus the creature came into being and remains.

  3. .e says:

    400 years is a long time to be making comparisons in literary styles. I don’t understand why you don’t think the writers of the gospels were not first hand or writing for first hand witnesses.

    Although you are correct. Jesus did not write anything. He showed the disciples the truth and sent them to share to share the truth of his good news.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .e 4:35 “I don’t understand why you don’t think the writers of the gospels were not first hand or writing for first hand witnesses.”

      I would say there is a big difference between “writing first hand” and “writing for first hand witnesses”. I have not come across a well know Bible scholar who says the gospel authors were “writing first hand”. Now, if you are saying Bible authors talked to people who were actually there, say at the tomb, or, at the loaves and fishes, or at the other miracles, I don’t know of any evidence of that.

      The sequence of the time the gospels were written is widely agreed upon. The later the gospel the more detail there is about Jesus’ life. The first gospel started his “holy life” when he was bounced back to life. Then, later ones started him at baptism, then later at his birth, then before his birth.

      • Jeffrey Eide says:

        Correct, Mr. Lindgren, and further more, Bart D. Ehrman is one of the most respected scholars of classical and biblical matters today. I highly suggest anyone to pick up one of his very accessible books, such as “Misquoting Jesus” or “Forged: Writing in the Name of God”

        As he clearly explains in his book, factual evidence is not intended to undermine the faith of believers. Unfortunately, though, not everyone in this world cares about what is true and what is fiction. For those who do, Ehrman is a great place to get some scholarly wisdom.

        • Jinx says:

          Ditto, Jon & Jeff!

          In the “Misquoting of Jesus” Dr. Bart explains his rigorous methodology when evaluating the ancient scrolls.

  4. entech says:

    Why would their speeches sound almost exactly alike, Ehrman asks? It’s because the unknown writer, called Luke, wrote them both.

    Yep, good old Luke he wrote Gospels and Acts and who knows what else, the Dan Brown of his day, and just as accurate.

    • bill says:

      About as accurate as your speculation. You’re trying to determine who wrote what 2000 years ago? You’re better off taking it at face value. Because all the researchers in the world are doing nothing more than speculating.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        bill 12:42 “You’re better off taking it at face value.”

        I don’t agree with taking at face value the notion that a god guided writing of the Bible, that miracles actually happened or that our laws should be based on the truthfulness of these myths is good for us. That leaves open the opportunity for any crazy idea to be forced on us because of myths that it was handed down from some super natural source. We could just as well believe the Greek Gods were real.

        • Jeffrey Eide says:

          Sorry Bill, but I have to interject. There are so many myths and cults you do not take at face value. Islam, ancient Greek gods, African gods, and yet this one, the one you were coincidentally raised with, should go without being scrutinized? Let’s at least be fair in this.

          As I said before, if you are not concerned about what is correct, or what is fiction, then be happy with your beliefs, but if you care if your beliefs are backed up by reason and evidence, then open your mind a bit.

  5. John Winterton says:

    Might I just comment that Thucydides does not simply say he made up the speeches. After the words to which you refer, he adds: ‘… while at the same time I have stayed as close as possible to the overall thrust of what was actually said.’ The most reasonable interpretation of the complete statement seems to me to be that he tried to stay as faithful as possible to the original, but, where he had only perfunctory or incomplete reports of speeches, he expanded what he knew in what seemed to him the most appropriate manner, in order to produce a coherent and readable text. I hope this helps to clarify things.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      John 12:27 Thanks for the first time comment.

      “The most reasonable interpretation…” That’s not an unreasonable interpretation. I would only say there is more than one reasonable interpretation.

      • John Winterton says:

        True – that’s why I added …’seems to me to be’ – but you’re quite right. But I do think we need to have regard to both halves of Thucydides’ statement.

        It may be that this statement summarised his original design, but that in practice – whether owing to the limitations of his sources, or his desire to ensure that certain issues were fully discussed in his work – he ended up inventing more than he intended at the outset.

        In the case of Thucydides we are of course dealing with often lengthy and involved speeches, rather than the (relatively) short and pithy sayings attributed to Jesus. While I think your general point about differing ancient and modern attitudes to accuracy in terms of reporting speech is reasonable, that doesn’t of course mean that all such reports were fabricated; and I’ve certainly no idea how applicable your point is in the specific case of the sayings attributed to Jesus.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          John 3:28 “..that doesn’t of course mean that all such reports were fabricated..”

          Very true, and I mentioned in my post quotes may have been based something written earlier the writer had in front of him or something he had heard.

          There are so many views about the nature and authenticity of the Bible. I’m a mere amature in Bible scholarship, but when I look at the volume and variety of takes on it, it’s overwhelming. For example, there is a school of thought that Jesus quotes pop up only when the writer was focusing on his main message to readers. And, why not. There was no way for anyone to check on the authenticity. In politically charged messages, the rule is there are no rules.

        • Jinx says:

          Thanks Jeffrey, I haven’t read that one yet. I really like the Misquoting book by Dr Bart.

  6. Stanta says:

    Entech, but Aristotle was the author for every word claimed written by him? Even though nothing we have from him dates within 500 years of when he actually lived and we have much fewer fragments to base it on then the Bible?

    • Jeffrey Eide says:

      You raise a very good point, Santa…
      Although I am not Entech, I hope you may indulge me for a moment.

      Many scholars believe Socrates may have never existed, merely fabricated to suit Plato’s teachings. Or Aristotle. Take your pick. Either way I can say this. Whether they said the words that are attributed to them or not, we still have the wisdom at hand. Only for the sake of history do I care if they really wrote stuff. In reality, since the wisdom does not depend on their existence, it doesn’t matter.

      Now JESUS and his followers, on the other hand, are attributing miracles and other supernatural events to the time, and a billion people or more depend on the belief that those event happened. That is why the source is so important in biblical history.

      If you are willing to take the nice stories and parables and drop the mystical nonsense, then good on you.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Jeffery 5:16 “drop the mythical nonsense.”

        Great point. Whether or not there was a Socrates may be debated. Either way, there was not a Socrates religion that claimed for followers enternal life. That is to say, no one says to themselves, “I’m not going to commit this sin because Socrates sais I don’t have to die.” The people Who claimed to know what the god and the Jesus said made claims that play with peoples minds in a much different and destructive way.

      • Jinx says:

        Jeffrey, Dr Bart has a book earlier than “Misquoting” that goes into the miracles of the New Testament…….can’t remember the name of it. To summarize, he says that none of the miracles began appearing until one of the early bishops began adding the miracles and supernatural stuff to ‘jazz up’ the new religion so it would attract more followers.

        Excellent point re: the big 3 early philosophers…Ari, Plato and Soc!

        BTW, I love your posts!

    • entech says:

      Aristotle’s writings were preserved by his student Theophrastus, his successor as leader of the Peripatetic School. Theophrastus’ pupil Neleus and his heirs concealed the books in a vault to protect them from theft, but they were damaged by dampness, moths and worms. The books were found around 100 BC by Apellicon, who brought them to Rome. In Rome, scholars took interest in the works and prepared new editions of them. The writings of Aristotle that we have today are based on this collection.

      True the originals disappeared for a long time, irrelevant really as they are not used to try and organise the world and describe the universe (although aspects of his description lasted until Newton proved him wrong).

      Stan you must learn to stop making correlations that don’t matter, I mention Torquemada and you bring up Stalin, apart from the fact they were both evil, they have nothing income.

      • entech says:

        PS. There is much to show that Aristotle existed, his association with Alexander the Great for a start; In 323 BC Alexander the Great died unexpectedly and the government of Athens was overthrown by anti-Macedonian forces. Having had close connections with the Macedonian royal family, Aristotle was associated with the Macedonians and was unpopular with the new ruling powers. The new government brought charges of impiety against Aristotle, but he fled …

        There is nothing but the scribblings of his followers to show that Yeshua the Rabbi actually became Jesus the Saviour.

  7. A lot of arguments ensue when people talk about religion, but what did the early Christians think about Jesus being God?
    Free Internet download: “Man’s Search for Spirituality” by E Christopher Reyes quotes the early Christians, and their disputes, as to who is God.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      E Christopher 1:48 Thank you for the first time comment.

      “…but what did early Christians think about Jesus being God?” I’m really glad for your reference to your work, “Man’s Search for Spirituality.”

      I don’t know if you like or agree with Bart Ehrman, but he has been discussing this on his blog and will write a book on the topic in a year or so. He has been explaining how first Jesus “became God” because people started to say he had come back to life from being dead. His first God status came from that event. Then, another theory arose, he became God when he was baptisted by John the Baptist. Later still, it was when conceived. Finally, he was God before being conceived, on so on. There is not now agreement with his God status, was not back then either.

  8. The Early Christian Fathers created so many fictitious tales of their Savior that Saint Augustine felt compelled to write two books: On Lying.
    http://archive.org/…tails/MansSearchForSpirituality
    A Chronological presentation of man’s quest to explain the unknown quantities in his life. Various beliefs are presented along with the year of their…

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