Although Griffith-Jones presents his book as an important new contribution
to Bible studies, this book's thesis will be familiar to anyone who has
ever read an introductory guide to the New Testament: the four Gospels
present four basically different visions of Jesus, influenced by the
time of their writing and the sources available to Mark, Matthew, Luke and
John. Mark wrote to inspire Jesus' followers in Rome, political rebels and
outsiders. Matthew's Jesus is a rabbinical teacher, concerned with
building a religious community and with explicating the laws of the new
faith. Luke "has the historian's eye for the great sweep of history and
for its most telling detail;" his Jesus is a compassionate figure, deeply
concerned with social justice. And John, says Griffith-Jones, presents
Jesus as a poet, almost a shaman. He's a rabbi in Matthew, a new-agey mystic in
John. At times one feels rather like the lesson of "The Four Witnesses"
is that Jesus can be whoever we want Him to be--as long as that's a stock
B-movie type, like a rebel, doctor, or mystic. Perhaps it's no accident
that a "television docudrama" based on "The Four Witnesses" is in the works.