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Amazing

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Introduction to Gospels
Life and teachings of Jesus

Four Gospels – 3 Synoptic gospels plus John
Jewish Sources – Josephus, 2 references; one authentic
Talmud: Jesus a rabbi who practiced sorcery and led Israel astray
Roman sources – Pliny the Younger letter to Emperor Trajan
Tacitus – wrote that Nero blamed the fire in Rome on Christians
Suetonius – expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius, AD 49 after disturbances initiated by “Chrestus.”
NT Apocrypha – stories and sayings (reported) of Jesus - other gospels
Difficulties in achieving biography of Jesus – He left no autobiographical material, none of the NT sources were written during his lifetime but later; material which exists is not in biographical form; gospels differ in details and content; sources written first such as writings of Paul contain almost nothing about the life of Jesus. Gospels are each interpretation of the life of Jesus. Nevertheless, gospels present Jesus as Christ or Messiah, God’s anointed.
Jesus Seminar – quest for historical Jesus
Core elements in life of Jesus – kerygma 1. Baptized by John the Baptizer 2. Was a Galilean who preached and healed 3. He called disciples and spoke of 12 4. Confined his activity to Israel 5. Engaged in controversy about the Temple 6. Was crucified outside Jerusalem by Rome authorities 7. Following his death, the followers of Jesus continued as an identifiable movement 8. Some Jews persecuted some parts of the new movement
Gospels were written from kerygmatic interest; that is to proclaim the faith of early Christians in Jesus but the also solidly locate Jesus uniting the social world of his time.
Jesus was known as the teacher

Development of the Gospels
Early oral traditions – after resurrection and ascension of Jesus the church preached and individuals shared orally the stories of Jesus
Need for written records As early followers of Jesus began to die As Parousia delayed in coming As church expanded in Mediterranean world As church struggled with false teachings
So, the Gospels were written. Like Greek and Roman biographies which presented lives and deaths of great individuals as examples for others to follow.

Production of Gospels
Three are interrelated; one is not like the others. The three are synoptics, but even then there are differences. Synoptic problem
Two source theory – four source theory 1. Mark was earliest Gospel 2. Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark 3. Where Matthew and Luke are similar to each other but different from Mark, they used a second source, called Q (Quelle) 4. Matthew used material special in it (M) Luke used material special to it (L)

John’s Gospel was written independent of the other three.
Marcion tried to say that Luke was the only reliable Gospel (eliminating Matthew, Mark, and John) Marcion excommunicated in 144 AD
Tatian tried to weave the four Gospels into one account (Diatessaron) – never gained wide acceptance.
Each gospel makes distinctive contributions to early Christianity’s understanding of Jesus.

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