One of the most crucial topics debated among New Testament scholars these days is the relationship of the four canonical gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – to all the other various and varied texts from the first few centuries of the Jesus movement which were also called, or became known as ‘gospels’. How do they relate to each other? Is there any reason to give the four gospels within the canon of the New Testament any special status? Which were written first? Who borrowed from whom? And what kind of early Christian groups or sects produced them and read them?
I have been privileged recently to work my way through two major treatments of these questions from two of our leading international New Testament scholars, Professor Francis Watson from Durham and Professor Simon Gathercole from Cambridge. Both books represent years of research and hard work by each author over most of the last decade. They are beautifully produced hardbacks from Eerdmans, and available from the publishers, from book stores, and of course from Amazon and other online book-sellers. So how do they help us with these questions?
Simon Gathercole, The Gospel and the Gospels: Christian Proclamation and Early Jesus Books (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2022); xxiv + 576 pages
Francis Watson, What Is a Gospel? (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2022); xvii + 335 pages
I am delighted to announce that my Critical Review article comparing and contrasting them has now been published in the journal, Theology, and in line with their publishers’ open access policy, here is the ‘accepted version’ of my review, although for the published version you need to visit their website with the reference DOI: 10.1177/0040571X231161734.