An Introduction to The Gospels

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Abingdon Press, Sep 1, 2011 - Religion - 195 pages
2 Reviews
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An Introduction to the Gospels is designed to be a textbook for courses on the Gospels, for use at the college and beginning seminary level. Reflecting the most recent scholarship and written in an accessible style, the volume covers all four of the Gospels, including a survey of "the world of the Gospels".
The book opens with a discussion of the origin, development, and interrelationships of the Four Gospels. After a chapter-length treatment of each canonical Gospel and the non-canonical Gospels, the work concludes with a discussion of the "historical Jesus" debate.
In An Introduction to the Gospels, Mitchell G. Reddish:
- provides a solid, convenient survey of the Gospels in an accessible textbook format
- presents up-to-date scholarship in a field that has been dominated by older texts
- gives a balanced presentation of the content of the Gospels


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I have about the equivalent of a bachelors degree in Bible. I am going to give my opinion on this after reading through the first chapter and table of contents. First of all, I had a course called New Testament history. This book looks like it could very well be a textbook for that class. It does look very balanced (neither conservative nor liberal) in it's approach. It does look modern and up-to-date. Based on what I saw I would give it a thumbs up. Obviously there are things in every book that you or I may or may not agree with but this book does contain some good academic knowledge on the topic of New Testament. I would consider buying this albeit because I have not seen the whole thing yet and am curious to look at it. Reddish I believe is a well known author. I don't think he is going to say anything to far in left field. It should be credible and academically sound. In other words, it's a source that a college professor would gladly accept as a citation unlike many pop culture books from a Christian celebrity.  

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I found this book as a link in the bibliography section of an article in Wikipedia on the Gospels. The statements in the article for which this book was used as a source were controversial, so I decided to check out the source itself. I checked out the author's chapter on the authors of the Gospels. I didn't have to go far to find unwarranted assumptions, inaccuracies and flat out falsehoods.
Mark's Gospel p. 36
The author states that the author of Mark couldn't have known the geography of Israel because Mark states that Jesus went from Tyre to Sidon and then to Galilee "in the midst of Decapolis". He states that Mk 7:31 places Sidon south of Tyre. Nonsense. Jesus is allowed to go north instead of south and after his trip north, he's allowed to go east instead of south, and then south to the sea of Galilee. Which is surrounded on the east and south by the Decapolis. Unwarranted assumption used to "prove" Mark's author ignorant.
Also p. 36
Reddish states that Mark gets Herodias' husband's name wrong as Philip. Reddish is assuming that Mark is referring to Philip the Tetrarch (which Mark does not state). Josephus lets us know that the story is accurate and identifies her husband only as "Herod", which was a family name/title. Reddish is arguing from silence. The reality is that Mark would have known Herod's full name, living in the first century, in Palestine, while Reddish has no idea whether the man was named Philip or not.
Also p. 36
Reddish states that Jesus' position on women divorcing their husbands reflects Roman custom and not Jewish. So? I wonder if Jesus knew anything about Roman custom? I wonder if Jesus knew any Romans? I wonder if Jesus had a tiny inkling that his teaching would be passed on to anyone besides Jews? I wonder if it reflects Jesus' view on women divorcing? He's allowed to have one. Unwarranted assumption.
Also p. 36
He states "The explanation in 7:3 that all the Jews 'do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands' is an overstatement more likely to be made by an outsider than a Jewish person."
Or... it's an overstatement likely to be made by a Jewish person to an outsider. Early church tradition says Mark was written in Rome to a Roman audience. Romans who might be unaware of Jewish custom. I'm assuming Reddish knows this. He should if he doesn't.
One last example from page 38 regarding the authorship of Matthew:
Reddish states: "Since neither the Gospel itself nor early church tradition provides a reliable identification of the author..."
Ummmm… Pseudo Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Origen all cite Matthew as the author of this Gospel. Early church tradition does provide an identification of the author. Reddish has decided his opinion is more "reliable" than theirs. He fails to inform the reader of this.
At this point in my reading I was done with Reddish and motivated to write this review.
Any of these inaccurate statements concerning the Gospels can be refuted by reading an introduction to the Gospels by an orthodox commentator.
I don't like the book. Drivel.


Preface t r
The World of the Gospels r
The Gospel of Mark r
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Luke r
The Gospel of John r
The Other Gospels t

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About the author (2011)

Mitchell Reddish is an associate professor in the Religion Department of Stetson University, Deland, Florida.

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