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What Did Jesus Really Say?

When Jesus lived 2,000 years ago there were no tape recorders or stenographers present to record his words.  How do we know what he really said?

Most people, even if they’re not Christians, acknowledge that an exceptional spiritual master named Jesus lived and died 2,000 years ago.  The story of his life and teachings are chronicled in the four gospels of the New Testament and they have captivated the Western world ever since.  But how do we know what Jesus actually said?  There was no stenographer or tape recorder present and the first gospel to be recorded, Mark, wasn’t written until 30 years after Jesus’ death.  How much do you remember of any conversation you witnessed 30 years ago?

From the time Jesus spoke until the time his words and actions were eventually recorded on paper there were many opportunities for mistakes, misinterpretations and mistranslations.  Jesus was a mystic and often spoke in parables and metaphors. Those who were present interpreted his teachings and their meanings through the limited filter of their own spiritual understanding.  These impressions and memories were substantially diluted with the passing of 30 years’ time between their occurrence and their recording. Finally, Jesus spoke in Aramaic.  The first gospels were written in Greek, which was eventually translated into Old English and then to modern English.  Each of these translations provides opportunity for lost meaning.

What exactly did Jesus say?  No one really knows. Those who interpret the Bible literally and hang on every word are missing the point.  But the essence of Jesus’ teachings comes through loud and clear, over and over, to anyone who takes the time to distill his wisdom from the gospels.  It is simply open heartFree Reprint Articles, open mind—love and forgiveness.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

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John Penberthy is the author of To Bee or Not to Bee, A book for beings who feel there’s more to life than just making honey, an illustrated, inspirational allegory—fun yet deep--about the spiritual journey of a worker bee caught up in the mindless tedium of life in a honeybee colony. See the unique 60 second audio-visual Preview at

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