Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?
The Bible gives us four accounts of Christ’s life. Each records a unique perspective of the most significant event in history—the crucifixion and resurrection. All four gospels are named after men who lived during or shortly after Christ’s early ministry. Tradition considers these men the authors, but there’s one problem: not one of these books names its author.
The gospels are anonymous—so how do we know who wrote them?
None of the gospels came with an “about the author” section. The closest we get to a claim of authorship is at the very end of the Book of John, where the author implies that the book was written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:24 NIV).
Are there other context clues we can use to determine the authors? Can we trust tradition’s assumptions about who wrote the gospels? Did…
Do You Know about These Two Unique Features of John’s Gospel?
It has been understood that John’s Gospel is a distinct chronicling of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. That biblical scholars have cordoned it off from the so-called Synoptic gospels bears witness to this distinction. And if you’ve spent any amount of time with the beloved disciple’s gospel you’ve probably sensed its uniqueness, too.
But do you understand some of the central features that make it distinct? Edward W. Klink III helpfully explains two such characteristics in his new John commentary (ZECNT).
Building on the pioneering work of C. H. Dodd, who “In the twentieth century … provided the most focused analysis” (53), Klink provides readers an extended introduction to two unique features of John in order to help readers interpret it rightly: dialogues and monologues. Of the former…
[Common Places] New Studies in Dogmatics: Barth’s Pneumatology in Christopher Holmes’s The Holy Spirit
Zondervan Academic’s New Studies in Dogmatics series launches this fall with its first volume, Christopher Holmes’s The Holy Spirit, which is now available. We will introduce readers to this work and engage with some of the doctrinal issues addressed therein over a series of four posts here at Common Places. In this third post, Ben Rhodes takes a closer look at Part 3: Engaging Barth: The Other-Directed Spirit. (Click here to read the other posts in this series.)
Christopher Holmes’s writing is an admirable model of patient exegesis, both of Scripture and of the Christian theological tradition. His most recent book, The Holy Spirit, largely consists of careful readings of Augustine, Aquinas, and Barth as they read the Gospel of John (both in…
Does the Bible Teach ‘Faith Alone’?
Faith Alone is one of five new resources exploring the five sola rallying cries of the Reformation (including sola scriptura, solus Christus, sola gratis, and soli Deo gloria). In this volume Schreiner offers a historical, biblical and theological tour of the doctrine of justification.
Last week we examined one reason why ‘faith alone’ matters: the early church taught it. Schreiner makes the point, though, that “as Protestants we believe in sola scriptura. We must, in the end, turn to what the Scriptures say and cannot simply rely on tradition or interpretations from the past.” (97)
In other words, does the Bible teach faith alone?
Extracurricular Activities 5.9.15 — Brooks’s Soul, Pope’s Book Recommendation, & John’s Ending
David Brooks wants you to be in a Bible study. You’ll get more out of it than you would at a dinner party, he says, if you find places where you can talk about pain and suffering. In preparation for his new book, “The Road to Character,” the New York Times columnist read many religious authors, including early Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo. “I now consider Augustine the smartest human being I’ve ever encountered in any form,” he says. Brooks, who is Jewish, has admiration for many Christian authors, but he also explains how he struggles with theological tensions with Christianity. This interview has been edited for length.
A recent journal article offers a new reason for reconsidering…
The Joys of Ellipsis (John 12:7) — Mondays with Mounce 246
When Mary anointed Jesus’ feet, Judas objected to the extravagant waste of money. Jesus responds, “‘Leave (Ἄφες) her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended (ἵνα) that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial’” (NIV).
One of the interpretive challenges of the verse is ἵνα. The NIV (above) keeps the normal force of the ἵνα to indicate purpose, but in doing so it makes it sound as if Mary really had no choice in the matter. It removes the value of her choice and makes it sound like she was simply responding to God’s preordained plan.
The ESV has, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.” This keeps the full force of the ἵνα but, in my mind, makes no sense. Mary didn’t keep the perfume for the day…
Deuteronomy: A Theological Manifesto Like the Gospel of John
Maybe it's because I'm a green preacher and haven't taught on the Old Testament often, but applying Deuteronomy to 21st century living is a head scratcher. Yet Daniel Block's commentary on Deuteronomy (NIVAC) manages to do just that, apply it to everyday life in a way that stays true to the book's original purpose.
And the way he does that is by insisting that the book of Deuteronomy is a theological manifesto on par with the gospel of John.
A theological manifesto? And in comparison with John's gospel? An interesting comparison, I know, but one that's helped me better understand the purpose and scope of Deuteronomy. And one that will surely help me preach it far better than I have in the past.
Here is how Block explains his comparison: