BA Books & Authors on the Web – July 15, 2016

Cover ArtJ. Gordon McConville’s forthcoming Being Human in God’s World recently received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. They called it “scholarly, accessible, and beautifully written,” and “a work of literature to be savored.”

The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, by Alan Kreider, was featured at the Mennonite World Review.

Nijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, reviewed Francis Watson’s The Fourfold Gospel.

Reformed Catholicity, by Michael Allen and Scott Swain, was discussed at Exploring Church History.

Western Seminary’s Transformed blog reviewed Gospel of Glory by Richard Bauckham.

Benjamin Gladd and Matthew Harmon, authors of Making All Things New, were interviewed at Books at a Glance.

Patrick Gray’s Paul as a Problem in History and Culture was reviewed at Exploring Church History.

Craig Keener was interviewed by The Aqueduct Project about his book Miracles and the credibility of the New Testament accounts.

Unity, Plurality, and the Gospels – an Excerpt from The Fourfold Gospel

The following is an excerpt from Francis Watson’s The Fourfold Gospel.

——–

The present book takes its cue from the fact that the four gospels are also a fourfold gospel. Each text is as it is only in relation to the others. The gospel texts retain their distinctiveness, yet they are coordinated with one another and do not exist outside that coordination.

Cover ArtThe plurality is a unity and the unity remains a plurality; one can therefore speak both of “four gospels” and of a singular “gospel according to . . .” in four different versions. None of the individual evangelists seem to have envisaged any such arrangement; indeed, only one of them (Mark) even uses the word “gospel” with any real enthusiasm.

The fourfold gospel is the work not so much of the evangelists as of their early readers. It is the outcome of a process of gospel reception, and—since reception creatively reshapes what is received—it is also an ongoing work of gospel production. In that work a number of well-known figures in the early church played their parts; the names of Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome will feature prominently in the pages that follow. But the work of reception was also carried forward by anonymous communities and individuals who read, prayed, lived, and cared about these books and so ensured that they continued in circulation and were available to meet new needs in new contexts.

The shaping of the four texts occurred not only in their initial selection and coordination but also in the provision of authorial identities and biographies, in the development of a gospel symbolism, and in the scholarly analysis and interpretation of gospel similarities and differences. By these and other means, the early church made sense of its own core texts, in which the one story is told and retold in four different ways.

 

©2016 by Francis Watson. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

——–

For more information on The Fourfold Gospel, click here.

New Release: The Fourfold Gospel

Cover ArtThis groundbreaking approach to the study of the fourfold gospel offers a challenging alternative to prevailing assumptions about the creation of the gospels and their portraits of Jesus. How and why does it matter that we have these four gospels? Why were they placed alongside one another as four parallel yet diverse retellings of the same story?

Francis Watson, widely regarded as one of the foremost New Testament scholars of our time, explains that the four gospels were chosen to give a portrait of Jesus. He explores the significance of the fourfold gospel’s plural form for those who constructed it and for later Christian communities, showing that in its plurality it bears definitive witness to what God has done in Jesus Christ. Watson focuses on reading the gospels as a group rather than in isolation and explains that the fourfold gospel is greater than, and other than, the sum of its individual parts.

——–

The Fourfold Gospel displays all the virtues that readers have come to expect from one of the finest biblical interpreters of our day: depth and breadth of learning, exegetical prowess, clarity of argument, and sure theological judgment, all in the service of the truth of the gospel.”—John Webster, University of St. Andrews

“What does it mean, theologically speaking, that we have four canonical gospels? Drawing on sources as diverse as Ezekiel’s vision and Eusebius’s canons, Francis Watson’s reflection on this question is as astonishingly fresh as it is deeply grounded in the church’s traditions. Not for specialists only, The Fourfold Gospel is rich and richly rewarding.”—Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Baylor University

“The contributions of Francis Watson are always innovative and incisive, and this book, which will win a large readership, is no exception. With his unrivaled ability to combine expert historical knowledge with interpretive acuity, he is like the ideal scribe in Matthew, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”—Dale C. Allison Jr., Princeton Theological Seminary

“The old cliché about John’s gospel is that it is like a sea in which a child may paddle or an elephant swim. The same could be said of this marvelous book, which makes an excellent introductory book for students while also brimming with both astute historical detective work and elegant and thoughtful (and sometimes moving) exegesis that is illuminating for the expert.”—Simon Gathercole, University of Cambridge

——–

Francis Watson (PhD, University of Oxford) is Research Chair in Biblical Interpretation at Durham University in Durham, England. He previously taught at the University of Aberdeen and at King’s College London. Among his numerous works are the critically acclaimed Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith; Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective; and Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective.

For more information on The Fourfold Gospel, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 4, 2015

Cover ArtIn the Southeastern Theological Review, Jonathan Pennington, author of Reading the Gospels Wisely, dialogued with James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom.

Smith’s insight into the power and importance of story made me sing here and he does a great job of articulating this. I want to affirm wholeheartedly with Smith that narrative/story/poetic/artistic truth is powerful and essential to our human existence. As Smith and I have both argued in our own way, there is an irreducibility to poetic or narrative truth. One cannot just take a story or poem, getting its “meaning”—defined as the propositional truth contained within the supposed husk of the story— and then discard it.

Yet—and this is a big part of my whole goal in writing RGW—this is precisely how we have often read and interpreted and preached the Gospels, as if their narrative form is at best something to get through to the real, meaty, doctrinal truth, and at worst is an embarrassment and inferior form of truth-telling.

Cover ArtKevin Vanhoozer wrote The Pastor as ‘Organic Intellectual’ for Leadership Journal, in which he drew from his recently released The Pastor as Public Theologian.

“On a regular basis pastors address the big questions – questions of life and death, meaning and meaninglessness, heaven and hell, the physical and spiritual. To be sure, no church wants a pastor to be an intellectual if this means being so cerebral and preoccupied with ideas that one cannot relate to other people. This kind of intellectual is so theoretical as to be practically good for nothing. However, the kind of intellectual I have in mind is a particular kind of generalist who knows how to relate big truths to real people.”

Matthew Montonini, at New Testament Perspectives, is looking forward to Francis Watson’s The Fourfold Gospel.

At Crux Sola, Christopher Skinner discussed his work with Nijay Gupta on a forthcoming Baker Academic title.