Four Gospels, One Jesus? A Symbolic Reading

Four Gospels, One Jesus? A Symbolic Reading

Four Gospels, One Jesus? A Symbolic Reading

Four Gospels, One Jesus? A Symbolic Reading

Excerpt

'I think you should read the gospels,' my spiritual adviser pronounced, gazing into the roaring log fire as he swirled the golden liquid around his glass. It was a cold Christmas, and we were on retreat at Launde Abbey in the depths of Leicestershire. Uncomprehending, I stared at him; had he finally gone crazy? After all, I had just spent the best part of a decade researching the gospels for my doctorate and then revising it for publication as an academic monograph!

The next day, out for a brisk walk, I rounded a corner in a quiet valley, and the title, idea and chapter headings for this book fell out of the wintry sky. A couple of years passed, in which nothing much happened about the book - but I did read the gospels. Then, I was fortunate to be awarded some study leave, to teach and lecture in the United States of America, and to research and write this book.

At the end of my leave, away on retreat again (this time 'in the loveable West on a pastoral forehead of Wales,' as Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote of St Beuno's College), I reflected on the different lecture rooms and pulpits, libraries and studies where this material, begun and completed on retreat, had been composed, tested, and refined. Both contexts had been vital - for this book is an attempt to bridge the gap between the prayer cell and the seminar debate. I hope that the scholarly minded will accept the spirituality - for the gospels are not just dead, ancient texts, and that the spiritually inclined will study the scholarship - for God has given us minds. As a symbolic reading of the narrative portraits of Jesus in the four gospels based upon the best of recent scholarship, I hope it will appeal both to those beginning any form of theological study and also to the thinking Christian believer. For . . .

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