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The Four Gospels on Sunday: The New Testament and the Reform of Christian Worship

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Premier liturgical theologian Gordon Lathrop argues that far too often liturgy, preaching, and liturgical theology are informed by naïve and outdated exegesis. In a fully original and deeply reflective work, Lathrop collaborates with newer biblical studies to see the Gospels anew. He treats the Gospels as early witnesses to the meaning of Christian assembly and forces in the shaping and reshaping of liturgy.

Lathrop first probes each Gospel historically and exegetically to discern what it tells us about early Christian worship and Christians’ relationship to the Risen One. Then Lathrop treats the Gospels together to draw out more of their contemporary importance, especially ways in which they can enrich our reflection about the assembly itself, ministry, baptism, the use of Scripture in liturgy, and unity within ecumenical diversity.

Taking seriously the origins of the New Testament, as we understand them today, Lathrop demonstrates that the Gospels can remain a true catalyst for liturgical theology and liturgical renewal, as well as an inspiring link to the faith and convictions of the earliest followers of the Christian way.

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  • Analyzes how the Gospels interacted with Christian assemblies
  • Bridges the gap between biblical scholarship and celebrations of the meal
  • Provides contemporary application
  • The Four Beasts: The Gospels and Early Christian Worship
    • Beginnings: Assemblies, “Gospel,” Gospels
    • The Gospels and Meal Meetings
    • Mark in Detail: “There You Will See Him”
    • Matthew and Luke in Detail: Word and Meal in the Churches
    • John in Detail: Signs and Discourses on Sunday
  • The Beasts on Our Sundays: Assembly According to the Gospel
    • Word, Sacrament, and Assembly According to the Gospel
    • Leadership According to the Gospel
    • The Reforming Gospels: Renewing the Biblical-Liturgical Movement
Gordon Lathrop imaginatively traces how the Gospels interacted with, and attempted to shape, early Christian assemblies and then draws suggestive implications for contemporary practice. Informed and insightful, his synthesis of Scripture and liturgical theology will be valuable for anyone who reads Scripture and leads worship today.

Harold Attridge, dean, Yale Divinity School

Worship leaders who use the Revised Common Lectionary will welcome Gordon Lathrop’s latest contribution. He takes the differences of the four Gospels seriously as guides to effective proclamation and liturgical leadership. Lathrop bridges the gap between responsible biblical scholarship and celebrations of the meal.

Ralph W. Klein, Christ Seminary-Seminex Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

Gordon Lathrop has juxtaposed two of his loves in this volume: the Gospels and the Christian assembly. He reminds us that the Gospels were addressed to local Christian assemblies and were read in actual assemblies gathered for word and meal. Lathrop makes a compelling case that biblical and liturgical scholars need to pay attention to each other’s work and that preachers need to pay attention to the assembly as the context of the Gospel texts. This lovingly crafted book will be of interest to scholars but also to the members of the assembly who continue to acclaim, hear, and celebrate the gospels in their liturgies of word and meal.

—Frank C. Senn, pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston, Illinois

  • Title: The Four Gospels on Sunday: The New Testament and the Reform of Christian Worship
  • Author: Gordon W. Lathrop
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 240

Liturgical Studies, Acting Assistant, Yale Divinity School, Yale University.


Print list price: $49.00
Save $14.01 (28%)