Throughout the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, it is apparent that there are similarities as well as differences when it comes to portraying the life and times of Jesus the Christ, the general descriptions of who Jesus was, and the sayings and deeds of Jesus during his short stay on this earth. Scripture scholars highlight that each Gospel writer viewed Jesus from a different perspective.
“The Church has always and everywhere maintained, and continues to maintain, the apostolic origin of the four Gospels. The apostles preached, as Christ had charged them to do, and then, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they and others of the apostolic age handed on to us in writing the same message they had preached, the foundation of our faith” (Flannery, 1998, p.670-71).
When we specifically look at the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of John, it is clear that the different perspectives in the portrayal of Jesus are significant in their own right. It is likely that Matthew wrote for Jewish Christians in Antioch, Syria (c. 85 CE) (Mudge & Taylor et al, 1994, p. 157). Matthew’s primary concern is Jesus as Teacher. In contrast to this however, John’s Gospel was most likely authored around 90CE for people of Jewish and Gentile backgrounds (Mudge & Taylor et al, 1994, p. 157). For John, the divine Jesus comes to bring ‘life’ and ‘light’ to humanity, as can be seen in John 10:10. His Gospel seems to be independent from those of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
In order to understand Jesus, we need to locate him in the first stories that were told about him. These of course, being the Gospels. People who are touched by the story of Jesus both then and now, respond in different ways. What remains true is that the story of Jesus continues to capture the imagination of people, inspiring hope and a new vision, just as Matthew and John did. Each of the four Gospels seeks to answer the same fundamental question put to Simon Peter by Jesus- “And who do you say I am?”...
References: Culpepper, R.A. & O’Day, G.R. 1994, The New Interpreter’s Bible: Volume IX: Luke – John, Abington Press, Nashville.
Flannery, A. (O.P.) 1998, Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Costello Publishing Company, New York.
Hall, Rev. G. (sm) 1996 Certificate of Religious Education (NSW): Unit No. 3- Jesus the Christ, Unit Notes, Catholic Education Office, Sydney.
Maloney, F.J. (SDB) 1986, The Living Voice of the Gospel: The Gospel’s Today, Collins Dove, Victoria.
Mudge, P., Taylor, A., Morrissey, J., Bailey, G., Gregor, H., Magee, P., Mills, L., Sheerin, J., 1994, Living Religion: Studies of Religion for Senior Students, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne.
St. Pauls 1998, Catechism of the Catholic Church, St Pauls, Strathfield, New South Wales.
Wansbrough, H. 1998, The New Jerusalem Bible: The Complete text of the Ancient Canon Scriptures, Doubleday, New York.
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