Unjumbling the Gospels—Backstory

Before attempting to learn about a specific Gospel, there are important issues that must be considered that will help us understand all the Gospels (and much of the Bible, as well). One question that is often raised is why there are four Gospels. Wouldn't one do? When we see why four (at a minimum) were necessary, we will begin to understand the nature of Gospels in general and what we need to know specifically about any Gospel.

Each Gospel has a specific reason for why it was written that makes it unique and valuable. You will learn why the Gospels seem so much alike and how to use their similarities and differences to determine their purposes. You will also learn about the churches for which these Gospels were written and the first-century church in general.

This course is a prerequisite to any of the Energion courses on the four Gospels. Although it takes into consideration the results of biblical scholarly research, anyone interested in learning more about the Gospels will find it accessible. It is presented at no cost to anyone enrolled in a Gospel course.

The chorus from Jesus Christ Superstar asks life’s most important questions. It goes

“Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,
Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ
Do you think you're what they say you are?”

Each of the canonical gospels provides an answer to these questions. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each have their own unique understanding of what Jesus was all about. You may be thinking they all teach the same thing because they often use the same stories and events. But they are all very different. Consequently, what is missed – these differences – provides us with very important insights into who this Jesus really is. This course will uncover for you how our gospel writers fashioned their understanding of Jesus so that each Gospel and its picture of Jesus will become unique and memorable.

We will also discover how each gospel presents the nature of the church, the differences in how the disciples are depicted, and how each sees the purpose of the ministry and death of Jesus.

We will finish up by posing a question not addressed by the Gospels: How do we use these very different portrayals of Jesus to understand Jesus in our day? After all, these Gospels were for the people who followed Jesus in the first century. What about us in the 21st century? To answer this question requires immersing ourselves in each Gospel.


Module 1 Course Introduction and Overview
Unit 1 Your Instructor Introduces Himself and the Purpose of This Course
Unit 2 The Basis of Good Scholarship Begins Here
Unit 3 Diverse Churches in the New Testament
Module 2 Why Four Gospels and Not Just One?
Unit 1 Why Four Gospels?
Module 3 Why the Gospels Are Jumbled Up in Many Minds
Unit 1 Why the Gospels Get Jumbled up
Unit 2 Alternative Solutions to Markan Priority
Module 4 Just What Is a Gospel—Putting It All Together
Unit 1 Putting It All Together
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