Nov 7, 2010

Why Four Gospels? A review

David Alan Black has written a new book. Or more accurately, has updated a previous edition, and published a second, therefore making it new. It is also NEW to me. I had never heard of the previous version or the thesis that he introduces in the new book.

Black introduces his perspective of the 'Fourfold Gospel Theory' regarding the origins of the synoptic order concisely and coherently, in a fashion that is readable for scholar and non-scholar alike.

With the majority of scholarship assigning the Gospel of Mark as the baseline document for Matthew and Luke, Black introduces a perspective that is often overlooked concerning Church history, the Patristics, or the early Church Fathers. Black's thesis promotes the concept that a majority of the early church documents, from Justin Martyr to Augustine (100ad - 400ad) all consistently testify of the prevalence of Matthew's Gospel being written first.

With the prevalence of evangelical dismissal of anything common to the 1st century or pre-reformation thought concerning the order and historicity of Church life, or documents, this book comes as a challenge to the dismissal of Patristic witness concerning the chronological order of the Synoptics. Black brings his deductions to a level of understanding that most of us can understand and consume while challenging us to examine how we view the documents themselves.

Many might ask why it would matter to examine this thesis of Black's? They might even question what the necessity of looking outside of the canon itself to learn about the origin of our scriptures would avail? But the question I often ask in response is why have we blindly accepted so many things concerning the text that directly contradict some of the earliest and most astute scholarly witnesses that the church as known? The church fathers precede the reformers, the age of the enlightenment, and contemporary scholarship, but rank low on the level of progression toward intelligence because of their age. Yet, their witness is just as adept today as it was then, and their scholarship is as acute as some of the best that modernity has to offer.

You can find the book on Amazon or order direct from Energion (Free Shipping)

Dr. David Alan Black has taught New Testament Greek for over 30 years. He holds a Doctor of Theology from the University of Basel and is currently professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC. He has published over 20 books, including The Myth of Adolescence, Interpreting the New Testament, It's Still Greek to Me, and The Jesus Paradigm. He and his wife, Becky live on a 123-acre working farm in southern Virginia.

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