Fortress Introduction to the Gospels

Fortress Introduction to the Gospels

Fortress Introduction to the Gospels

Fortress Introduction to the Gospels


This book is designed to provide essential information in a convenient format for anyone beginning the historical study of the Christian Gospels.

With clarity and verve, Mark Allan Powell describes the contents and structure of the Gospels, their distinctive characteristics, and their major themes. An introductory chapter surveys the political, religious, and social world of the Gospels, methods of approaching early Christian texts, the genre of the Gospels, and the religious character of these writings. Included also are comments on the Gospels that are not found in the New Testament.

Special features: map, illustrations, and more than two dozen special topics provide information that is important for the understanding of the Gospels.


Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—these are the names given to the first four books included in the second part of the Christian Bible, which is known as the New Testament. They are commonly called [the four Gospels.] All four relate the career of Jesus, the central figure of the Christian faith. The New Testament actually contains twenty-seven books, all of which reflect upon the significance of Jesus, but only these four describe his life and ministry.

The names given to these books were added at a later time. The books themselves are anonymous, but were written in Greek by Christians who lived in the Roman Empire during the last half of the first century. Jesus himself was born at the beginning of the first century—that, of course, is why it is called the first century in cultures influenced by Christianity. Thus, these four Gospels were written a generation or so after the time of Jesus himself, but nevertheless before Christianity had become the developed, institutionalized religion that it is today.

The World of the Gospels

Since the Gospels were written in a place and time other than our own, we sometimes need help understanding the stories they tell. They relate tales concerning centurions, Samaritans, Sadducees, and magi—people whom . . .

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