The Synoptic Gospels
For centuries, the subject of synoptic gospels had fascinated Bible scholars and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This is because the account of the life and work of the greatest Man in history cannot but elicit both religious and scholarly actions and reactions as man tries to find the meaning to his fleeting existence on earth. As Richard Bauckham puts it, this is all “…a matter of seemingly endless interest to believers, half-believers, ex-believers, and would-be believers in the Jesus of Christian Faith” (Bauckham 2006, 2)
Some scholars have tried to cast doubts on their authenticity for the mere fact that these are neither exact historical account nor are they biographies of the Protagonist. They argue that all we have in the Gospels are the kerygma of the faith of the early Christian community. Even if the kerygma (preaching or proclamation) allegation is tenable, “…they are also the record of that self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ which the kerygma preaches….the only way I can know God is through the record of the life of Jesus in the gospels” (Barclay 2004, 15). ANALYSIS OF INTERACTION
A total of 5 pastors were interviewed on the subject of synoptic gospel and this work is partly based on their views. Appendix 1 and 2 contain samples of questions and interviewees’ contact information, respectively. The responses have been intriguing. They range from little or no knowledge of the subject matter to its astounding exposition by different interviewees. “My spiritual handlers told me to start reading the book of John in order to grasp the concise message of the gospel as a new believer. But with the benefit of hind sight, I will suggest that every new convert be introduced to the synoptic gospels in order to gain knowledge of the gospel presented from different angles by different writers” noted one of the respondents.
This respondent maintained that the differences in the accounts of the evangelists emanate from their particular emphasis and their style of presentation. According to him, this is dictated by their different audience, writers’ background and literary style. He gives the example of Matthew who clearly shows from the onset that he writes to the Jews with the main task of convincing them that Jesus is their long-awaited Messiah. Knowing that the Jews are very difficult to convince, he begins with the genealogy of Jesus.
The respondent continues: “Mark on the other hand is concerned with what Jesus did – the signs and wonders – and to portray Him as servant-king. Mark is characterized by the word “immediately” which has led some to nickname the Book “the gospel of action and reaction.”
“But Luke is quite different” he continues, “with his background as a medical doctor; he based his writing on evidence after careful research and came out with a more orderly account. He shows more of the human nature of Jesus who became hungry, happy and angry; which confirms Jesus’ dual nature of being God and man. He writes to a broader audience and avoids Hebrew terms unlike Matthew who uses them without considering others.”
This is, no doubt, the most rewarding of all the interviews. Others added that the synoptic gospels include Matthew, Mark and Luke. Three out of five respondents think John is also among the synoptics and that they wrote under strict inspiration of the Holy Spirit. One of the respondents would like to see the Book of Acts included in the synoptics since it was written by Luke the Evangelist! The same person explained the brevity of Mark with the fact that it was written to the Romans “who are mainly soldiers and had no time for long stories”. In response to the question of relevance, one of the respondents insist that the synoptic gospels are the most important Books of the Bible; without them we would not know if Jesus came or not; or whether the prophets prophesied in vain. All agree that the synoptics indeed present the story of...
Bibliography: Barclay, W. (2005): Introduction to the First Three Gospels. Philadelphia, USA: The
Westminster Press, 1975; repr., Kampala: Glad Tidings Bible College, 2005.
Beare, W.F. (1962): The Earliest Records of Jesus. New York, USA: Abington Press
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