by: Simon Gathercole
A robust scholarly defense of the distinctiveness of the canonical Gospels.
Do the four New Testament gospels share some essence that distinguishes them from noncanonical early Gospels? The tendency among biblical scholars of late has been to declare the answer to this question no--that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were grouped together by happenstance and are defended as canonical today despite there being no essential commonalities between them.
Simon Gathercole challenges this prevailing view and argues that in fact the theological content of the New Testament Gospels distinguishes them substantially from noncanonical Gospels. Gathercole shows how the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each include four key points that also formed the core of early Christian preaching and teaching: Jesus's identity as messiah, the saving death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and Scripture's foretelling of the Christ event. In contrast, most noncanonical Gospels--like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Truth, and Marcion's Gospel--only selectively appropriated these central concerns of early Christian proclamation.