THE BIBLE – NEW TESTAMENT – MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE & JOHN - THE GOSPELS.
The four main biographies of the life of Jesus on which the whole of Christian teaching rests. These four books are therefore the most important works of literature, theology and social history in the Western World today. The problem is that they are often mutually contradictory. Some give high importance to events not touched on in others. The nativity (the Christmas birth of Jesus story) is only given in detail once. Matthew largely borrows from the work of Mark, or more likely from some primary text material that was available to both authors. With the exception of John, who adopts a meditative, and consciously literary style to give his work a poetic feel, the Gospels are known as the Synoptic works. They give only the briefest outlines of the life, ideas, death and alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a problem for modern theologians and historians. It is all well and good saying that Jesus walked on water, but the precise details of it make an accurate reconstruction of the supposed miracle impossible. WE can easily see how a modern stage conjurer could make a handful of loaves and fishes feed five thousand people. It would be easy to create as an illusion. How did Jesus do it? The story as presented in the Gospels would never satisfy a forensic observer, nor would the story of the Resurrection. I’m not saying here that such things didn’t happen, - merely that the Gospels (the word means truth) do not present sufficient proof of what they declare about their extraordinary central protagonist. We could speculate on exactly how the event might have looked, but we would not have enough evidence to Asses it from a modern scientific point of view. The Gospels were not written with such modern sensibilities in mind; for their time the approach adopted was adequate. The Gospels gave itinerate preachers and missionaries the bare outline of a story so that they could spread the word and help convert people to the then young faith. The books nevertheless remain and perhaps always will, highly influential and undoubtedly also a terrific easily accessible read.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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