2016-06-30
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.


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