|Two questions frame this study—"Who is the Jesus you bring with you to this study?" and "Who is the Jesus you take with you from this study?" JESUS IN THE GOSPELStakes participants on a journey from one question to the other.
Because knowledge of the Old Testament is necessary for understanding the Gospels, participants in the study of JESUS IN THE GOSPELS must have completed DISCIPLE: BECOMING DISCIPLES THROUGH BIBLE STUDY.
Unlike DISCIPLE, this study is not divided into lessons on the Old Testament and lessons on the New Testament; rather, daily assignments for most lessons include Old Testament and New Testament passages. The passages assigned from the Old Testament are important for the Gospel readings. From time to time, readings from the Apocrypha are included to aid understanding of the Jewish thought-world Jesus inherited.
This study looks at the way each Gospel writer presents events and teachings and at the picture of Jesus that emerges. In the course of the study, participants will read the four Gospels and considerable amounts of Scripture from other parts of the Bible.
To Know Who Jesus Is, We Must Study the Jesus in the Gospels. The four canonical portraits of Jesus-the heart of this study – focus on Jesus himself by the ways they situate him in time and place. For those who think of Jesus as merely an intriguing figure from the past, the historical and canonical portraits of Jesus will show them the Jesus who is more than a figure to be memorialized.
Participants in JESUS IN THE GOSPELS will encounter the Jesus who is both hard to ignore and hard to control – an attractive, commanding, morally compelling figure. It is that Jesus who is Lord and Savior, friend.
The Gospels are not concerned with presenting what is usually thought of as biography. The Gospels' aim is to form their readers by the way they inform them about the subject matter- Jesus. This Jesus is from faith to faith.
The Gospels reveal a multifaceted Jesus, not a monolithic figure; not a single portrait but four portraits of Jesus. Each Gospel writer attempts to capture some aspect or element about Jesus but does not capture everything. And it is not possible to combine the aspects or elements of all four portraits into a single picture. Different handling of the materials by the Gospel writers enhances the portraits. The task of the reader and of this study is to discover the different accents of the Gospel writers.
Each Gospel Has a Distinctive Angle of Vision. Most readers of Scripture tend to read the Gospels and put the stories together into one story-one Jesus. But that one Jesus is not the church's Jesus. The church has never substituted a single story for the Jesus of the four Gospels. Each Gospel's way of presenting Jesus and his significance reflects not just the writer's view of Jesus and events but also reflects what was going on in the writer's church. These differences in perspective on Jesus provide opportunities to understand and appropriate more than one way of following Jesus.
This study lets each Gospel have its say so that each Gospel's witness to Jesus might challenge the reader in its own way. We look for what the Gospel writers are telling us and for the kind of responses they seem to expect of us.
Participants in Jesus in the Gospels may expect:
- to gain a fuller understanding of and appreciation for the four Gospels as richly textured portraits of Jesus.
- to see the varying portraits of Jesus as opportunities to understand and appropriate more than one way of following Jesus.
- to gain appreciation for Jesus; for the complexity of Jesus' historical time and place; and, in particular, for his Jewishness.
- to be confronted weekly by Jesus and summoned to deeper allegiance and loyalty to Jesus.
- that this study of Jesus, while taking critical scholarship seriously, will enrich rather than impoverish their understanding of Jesus.
- to understand what is at stake in doctrinal claims about Jesus that have roots in Scripture.
- to converse more seriously than in the past about their Christian heritage in Jesus, to be able to take a stand-this is what we believe .
- to continually confront the question, What constitutes my followship?
- In terms of approach to study, participants may expect daily disciplined reading and study of Scripture with growing attention to detail.
- regularly to use their Bible, their study manual, and their Gospel Comparisons together in daily study.
- to learn anew that the Old Testament permeates the whole Bible, that the Gospel writers and Jesus relied on the Old Testament; it was their Scripture, the only Scripture they knew.
- a growing appreciation of the Gospels as literature in their own right-Luke really knows how to tell a good story!
- to be surprised, to be shocked, to be made uncomfortable, to be stretched, to be awed, to be comforted, and to experience hope and peace.
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