One of the books I received for Christmas this year was “The Five Gospels“. A group of scholars (“scholars” ?) spent 6 years going over old texts and evidence to answer the question “What did Jesus really say?”.
The group (called the Jesus Seminar) re-translated the Gospels (and added Thomas) in a new version which they named the Scholars Version (SV). Reading about the process they took to do this was fascinating in itself. They attempted to preserve the nuances and meanings of the original texts in modern English, without softening the words.
Their end result is a color code system that represents how the group voted on each saying. (red= he said it, pink= he likely said it, gray= similar to something he might have said, black= not likely his words) It is very interesting to read the different passages, then read the commentary that explains why the group decided what they did. They used various techniques to decide which words were common folklore, which were added by its authors, and which words were likely spoken by the historical Jesus himself. (seems to be a very challenging task, since the earliest written accounts of the time when Jesus lived are some 50 years after his death)
Anyway, it looks like this book is surrounded in controversy. I have just started into it and I have found it very interesting so far.