To Christians worldwide, the man Jesus of Nazareth is the centerpiece of history, the object of faith, hope, and worship. Even those who do not follow him admit the vast influence of his life. For anyone interested in knowing more about Jesus, study of the four biblical Gospels is essential.
Four Portraits, One Jesus is a thorough yet accessible introduction to these documents and their subject, the life and person of Jesus. Like different artists rendering the same subject using different styles and points of view, the Gospels paint four highly distinctive portraits of the same remarkable Jesus.
With clarity and insight, Mark Strauss illuminates the Gospels, first addressing their nature, origin, methods for study, and historical, religious, and cultural backgrounds. He then moves on to closer study of each narrative and its contribution to our understanding of Jesus, investigating things such as plot, characters, and theme. Finally, he pulls it all together with a detailed examination of what the Gospels teach about Jesus’ ministry, message, death, and resurrection, with excursions into the quest for the historical Jesus and the historical reliability of the Gospels.
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“Third, the Gospels are historical in that they are meant to convey accurate historical information.” (Page 27)
“The genre of the Gospels may be examined under three headings: history, narrative, and theology.” (Page 27)
“At the risk of oversimplifying, we may say that Matthew presents Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, the fulfillment of Old Testament hopes; Mark portrays him as the suffering Son of God, who offers himself as a sacrifice for sins; Luke’s Jesus is the Savior for all people, who brings salvation to all nations and people groups; and in John, Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the self-revelation of God the Father. These are not contradictory portraits but complementary ones. Having four Gospels gives us a deeper, more profound understanding of Christology—the nature of Jesus’ person and work.” (Page 24)
“From our narrative analysis, we may conclude that the primary purpose of Matthew’s Gospel is to demonstrate that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jewish hopes for the Messiah.” (Page 248)
“Historical: The need for a faithful and authoritative record of the words and deeds of Jesus.” (Page 30)
Extraordinarily well written and thoughtfully organized. This book will be useful to anyone in need of a concise, clear, and knowledgeable guide through the four Gospels.
—Frank Thielman, Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
This textbook for studying the Gospels and the historical Jesus presents various views evenhandedly and consistently comes to careful and balanced conclusions. It introduces both older and newer approaches and treats all the major topics.
—Craig Keener, Professor of New Testament, Palmer Theological Seminary
Strauss guides the nonspecialist gently through the maze of academic jargon and esoteric debate. The treatment is fair and responsible, based on sound scholarship but not over burdened with footnotes.
—R.T. France, Principal Emeritus, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford