Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels

Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels

Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels

Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels

Synopsis

In this book respected New Testament scholar Pheme Perkins delivers a clear, fresh, informed introduction to the earliest written accounts of Jesus - Matthew, Mark, and Luke - situating those canonical Gospels within the wider world of oral storytelling and literary production of the first and second centuries. Cutting through the media confusion over new Gospel finds, Perkins's Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels presents a balanced, responsible look at how the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke came to be and what they mean.

Excerpt

Several years ago Allen Myers wrote asking if I might be interested in writing a book on the Synoptic Gospels for Eerdmans. Conversation among editors at the press had suggested a lacuna in the available literature. General readers cannot find the kind of information about how the Gospels were written, their sources, their preservation, and their individual characteristics that ministers and seminary students get in textbooks and introductory courses. Even those who have some professional training for ministry are at a loss when discoveries of new Gospel manuscripts or discussions of Gnostic Gospels hit the news. Those who have been out of school for a while may have learned to analyze a particular Gospel text using the basics of source and form criticism but not to consider its relationship to the Gospel in question as a literary whole. and most students, then and now, brushed over the sections on text criticism. Yet without the careful study of what actually survives on fragments of papyrus and in codices there would be no text for the translator or Bible for the reader. a healthy dose of text-critical common sense is also a good antidote for the dizzying hype that accompanies any newly published text.

Churches whose cycle of readings devotes a year to each of the Synoptic Gospels often take the Gospel in question for their Bible study. Although there are a number of recent commentary series for the serious lay reader, those volumes cannot explain the how or why of our approach to analyzing the Gospels. “It’s as though the ministers have a secret they won’t . . .

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