Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective

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ISBN: Be the first to rate this. Overview Having four canonical versions of one Gospel story is often seen as a problem for Christian faith: where Gospels multiply, so do apparent contradictions.

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Key Features Proposes a new paradigm for Gospel studies Argues that differences between canonical Gospels represent opportunities for theological reflection Presents the fourfold Gospel as the defining moment in the reception of early Gospel literature. Praise for the Print Edition A wonderfully wide-ranging book, full of learning and insight.

One of the most significant books on the Gospels in the last hundred years, this work will undoubtedly shake up the current study of the Gospels. All should celebrate the manner in which Watson sets a new agenda for those who ask why we continue to read the Gospel in this form.


  • Review of Francis Watson’s Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective @eerdmansbooks.
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The upshot is a slew of new observations and intriguing proposals that open up fresh lines of inquiry. Required reading for all students of the Gospel tradition. First, although Watson asserts that one must embrace the diversity of the fourfold Gospel, he provides the reader with scant resources for doing so.

His basic position seems to be that one should regard Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as re interpretations unified by their single object, Jesus. But if Luke is reinterpreting Matthew and Mark with the intention of bringing the reader closer to Jesus, how am I then to read Mark and Matthew? Should I read Luke as more true and his predecessors as less? First, there must be some consideration of genre.

Book Review – Francis Watson, Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective (Part 4) | Reading Acts

Without knowing what sort of literature the Gospels are, we cannot know what level of correspondence to expect between them and the historical person Jesus whom they depict. Watson unfortunately includes no substantive discussion of Gospel genre in this volume. Second, the fact that the Gospels are unified by having Jesus as their object seems to suggest that in their canonical form some level of harmonization is justified since their individual portraits need to be able to somehow cohere in one person the level of detail would be determined by their genre.

In the first place, even if Watson is correct that ecclesial unity played a large role, this does mean that historical and theological factors did not. In order to make his case convincingly, Watson would need to somehow demonstrate not only that community order was a factor but also that history and theology were not. This is an odd claim, for to my knowledge we have no noncanonical Gospel that looks as much like the four canonical Gospels as they look like each other, both in their general character and overarching portrait of Jesus.

Finally, the argument as a whole could be shortened and tightened at several points. Gospel Writing is a monumental achievement that will continue to influence the Gospel origins discussion for years to come and deserves a place on the shelf of any serious New Testament scholar. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

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Chapter 6. Matthew in Dialogue with Francis Watson’s “Canonical Perspective”

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