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Why four Gospels? Why only four?

Authors
  • Dunn, James
Type
Published Article
Journal
Holiness
Publisher
Sciendo
Publication Date
Jun 16, 2020
Volume
3
Issue
1
Pages
35–55
Identifiers
DOI: 10.2478/holiness-2017-0002
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

This is a transcript of the 2016 Fernley-Hartley Lecture, which was delivered during the 2016 British Methodist Conference at the Lambeth Mission, London, and is published here with acknowledgement to the Fernley-Hartley Trust. It stands largely unchanged from its first delivery in the hope that the texture and tone of the lecture might also be retained. The article argues that answering the questions ‘Why four Gospels?’ and ‘Why only four?’ provides a clear picture of the character of the gospel of Jesus as ‘the same yet different’, as well as a challenge to today’s Christians to retell the good news in their own contexts with equal or equivalent effect. The article discusses the context in which the four canonical Gospels were recognised, pointing out that the term ‘gospel’ was coined in the process. The distinctive emphases of the Synoptics and John show how the same story can be told differently, an essential restatement of the same message for new and changing audiences.

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