Jesus According to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, by Darrell L. Bock
This is a study of the life and teaching of Jesus using the actual material of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is not a gospel harmony, however. From his introduction, Bock states that his purpose is to present “a coherent portrait of Jesus … from the canonical Gospels that is both rooted in history and yet has produced its own historical, cultural impact because of the portrait these four Gospels give of Him.” Instead of focusing on the dissimilarities among the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and their differences from John, Bock seeks to appreciate how these dissimilarities support a unified portrait of Jesus. As detectives know, absolute agreement among witnesses suggests collusion, while slightly different reports demonstrate authenticity.
What an edifying experience it was, reading through this book with an open Bible! Bock states as a premise in his introduction … “too few people, much less students of the Gospels, are familiar enough with the Gospel accounts as they stand.” I would have to agree. Having read the Gospels countless times in my forty years as a believer, I benefited much from reading this book, seeing things I had not seen before. Bock is an excellent scholar, able to communicate on a popular level. He presents the helpful perspective that these documents stand tall as historically reliable. They are the eyewitness accounts of the apostles. They are the reason why Christianity spread so rapidly in the 1st Century and why it continues to spread in a mission that will result in God’s glory filling the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, by Craig A. Evans
For most of the church’s history, her views of Jesus Christ have been shaped by those documents known as the canonical gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But over the last century or so modern (and post-modern) critical scholarship has amazed us with so-called facts and theories about Jesus much at odds with the portrait given in those documents. For example, the idea that Jesus was functionally illiterate, was married to Mary Magdalene or that Judas Iscariot, far from betraying Jesus, was really the greatest of his disciples. These and other ideas have found their way into the popular mind through books, TV documentaries and movies such as The Da Vinci Code. Evans explodes the shoddy scholarship that undergirds such contentions. In doing so he supports the historical reliability of the source documents of the Christian faith—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This book is easy to follow and has an engaging style. It will be helpful for those who have faced questions like, “Why does Christianity only accept four gospels when many others were written?”