21-1 Introduction to the Gospels
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Year: Birth of Jesus
Year: Beginning of Jesus' public ministry
Year: Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection
Year: Paul experiences his conversion on the road to Damascus
AD 32 or 36
Year: The Romans destroy Jerusalem and the Temple
The Greek word for Gospel and what it means
euangelion, meaning "good tidings" or "good news"
Where does the word "euangelion" first appear, and what does it refer to?
It first appears in Paul's letters, where it directly refers to God's saving act in Christ.
What does Paul mean by the word Gospel? How does he use it?
- Paul uses the term in an absolute sense: there is one and only one Gospel, and there can be no other. This Gospel is the story of jesus Christ, including his suffering, death, and resurrection.
- Thus, Gospel means first and foremost the news reported in the books called "gospels." It is the good news preached, believed, and lived even before these books were written.
What genre of literature does euangelion refer to?
The four Gospels that were accepted in the NT canon.
What is the Latin transliteration of the word euangelion?
What were the canonical Gospels composed?
during the second half of the 1st century
Which Gospel was composed the latest?
John, probably around AD 90, about the same time that the efforts were being made to collect and publish a corpus of Paul's letters.
two examples of non-canonical Gospels:
- the Gospel of Peter
- the Gospel of Thomas
Several important criteria for a Gospel to be considered canonical
- apostolic origins
- the rule of faith
- use in sacred worship
Which fathers of the Church mentioned the "Rule of Faith"?
- Clement of Alexandria
How did Clement of Alexandria summarize the Rule of Faith? What did he sometimes call it?
He summarized the Rule of Faith, which he sometimes called the "Rule of the Church," as "the concord and harmony between the Law and the Prophets and the covenant brought into being by Jesus Christ."
Whom did the Gospel authors write for, respectively?
- Matthew wrote primarly for the Hebrews
- Mark wrote primarily for the Romans
- Luke wrote primarily for the Greeks
- John wrote for everyone
How does the Gospel of Peter portray Jesus, and how does it contradict the rule of faith?
- The Gospel of Peter portrays Jesus as feeling no pain on the cross.
- This is a contradiction of the Rule of Faith because it would mean that Jesus is not the suffering servant of Isaiah, and an extremely important link between Jesus and the Prophets is lost.
In what way does each Gospel writer portray Jesus in comparison to the other writers?
Each Gospel writer provides a distinct portrait of Jesus. These portraits are interpretive in nature, and so they are complementary.
Common features of the four Gospels
- center totally on Christ
- present Him as human (Son of Man) and divine (Son of God)
- present His word as both words (teachings) and deeds (miracles)
- culminate in and emphasize His death and resurrection
- present Him as "Jesus" (the Savior from sin) and "Christ" (the anointed one, the promised one)
- they begin no later than John the Baptist and end no earlier than the resurrection
- written by eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) or companions of eyewitnesses (Mark and Luke)
What are the most signifcant books of the Bible for Christians? How iss that significance manifested?
- The Gospels.
- In divine worship, they are traditionally shown great honor by being carried in procession, kissed, and incensed. All stand while they are read.
Characteristics of the Gospel of Matthew
- It presents a particularly Jewish milieu.
- It contains over sixty references to the Hebrew Scriptures fulfilled by Jesus.
- It includes much well-arranged sermon material, which he arranges topically
Characteristics of the Gospel of Mark
- It is the shortest of the four Gospels.
- It presents Jesus not as a speaker of long sermons, but as a healer, exorcist, and wonder-worker.
- Mark both reveals and hides the significance of Jesus within the narrative - the "messianic secret."
- It frequently uses the title "Son of God."
Characteristics of the Gospel of Luke
- It is the first part of a two-part narrative, the second part being the Acts of the Apostles.
- Luke portrays a cosmopolitan world in which people on the social and religious fringes--shepherds, women, outsiders, the poor, people in shady professions--are given attention as the recipients of God's grace.
Characterstics of the Gospel of John
- In John, Jesus speaks in lofty, deliberately symbolic or allegorical speech.
- John's message focuses on the identity of Jesus as God's Son sent from heaven.
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