Friday, June 09, 2006

Reading the Gospels

As I've alluded to in some of my recent posts, most of my time in the Scriptures lately has been spent in the Gospels. To be frank and to my shame, this is an area I used to shy away from for several reasons: 1) The epistles more readily lined up with the perception of Christianity and Evangelism that I had grown up with. 2) I perceived there was a greater hermeneutical gap to the Gospels than there was to the epistles. 3) Narrative can't be anywhere near as theological as prose or epistolary literature, right? Whatever! (though I really did secretly harbor this presupposition) 4) I was intimidated by the potential "problems" that I would encounter in Gospels studies if I probed too far beneath the "devotional level" (read: superficial level). Things like the synoptic problem, arguments for and against historical reliability, issues pertaining to historical Jesus studies, etc. all intimidated me because I was not very well accquainted with them and deep down inside somewhere, I think I was afraid they might rock my world (O me of little faith) if I faced the questions head on (though I probably never would have admitted this).

My interest was recently renewed and I knew I had been depriving myself of some serious mediation on the life and ministry of Jesus, so I decided to begin my own (informal) "quest", if you will. In the providence of God, He brought some reliable guides across my path in the form of recent book acquisitions. The New Testament and the People of God has been helpful in slaying the beast of intimidation regarding historical reliability and critical issues. Wright is a terrific guide here in terms of method. The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels had proven a fantastic tool to get me up to speed on many of the issues I knew by name, but never really understood what all was at stake. Finally, since my time has primarily been spent in Luke's gospel lately, Bock's two volume commentary has already been repaying fantastic dividends.

I'm greatful the Lord has brought me on this journey, as it has been a refreshing and revitalizing time meditating on the life of Jesus. In many ways, I feel as if I'm exploring a new frontier and it's exciting. I'm amazed at how much I have (in the past) been guilty of trying to force the gospel narratives into the grid of what I considered Christianity to be about, rather than letting my understanding of Christianity be shaped by the gospels; I certainly have a good deal of theological baggage. The epistles (where I used to hide out) are invaluable for shaping the Christian worldview; however, the terms of discipleship are never clearer than in Jesus' own call to the task. At the risk of an extremely overused cliche, I think I HAVE been guilty of putting Jesus in a box... or even FORCING Jesus into a box. There's more to be said, and I'll probably follow with some specific ways my thoughts are being remolded in the near future. However, if anyone out there has neglected the Gospels for similar reasons to the ones I identified above, I encourage you to get over it and get into them.

1 comment:

MOsborne20 said...

Piper's new book will be helpful. Check out "Fresh Words" on He explains the thesis of the book. He cataloged all the commands of Christ. I am looking forward to it.