Review Of Bird, The Gospel Of The Lord: How The Early Church Wrote The Story Of Jesus -- By: Annang Asumang
Conspectus 19:1 (March 2015) p. 147
Review Of Bird, The Gospel Of The Lord: How The Early Church Wrote The Story Of Jesus
Bird MF 2014. The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
It is fair to surmise that after more than two decades in which Pauline Studies dominated conservative New Testament scholarship, Gospels Studies is beginning to receive more attention among evangelical students. However, this renewed interest appears to be suffering from the dearth of weighty research monographs that critically evaluate the methodological questions underpinning the subject area. The Gospel of the Lord is one of a small number of recently published books devoted to meeting this need. Significantly, the book won the Christianity Today 2015 Biblical Studies Book of the Year Award (Christianity Today, 2015), and so deserves serious attention in the conservative tradition of scholarship.
The author himself is a widely published conservative evangelical scholar who lectures in Theology at the Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry in Australia (cf., Bird 2015; 2013). He notes in his preface to the book: ‘If my reading of the scholarly scene is correct, then “Gospels” is very probably the next big thing in biblical studies’ (2014:vii), a view with which I am in complete agreement. It is on this
Conspectus 19:1 (March 2015) p. 148
basis that Bird sets himself the agenda of addressing the big methodological questions of the origins of the gospels, their literary nature and the manner in which they ought to shape our theological discourse. Having read the book twice now, it is my view that it should be a must-read for evangelical students planning postgraduate research in Gospel Studies.
In this extended review I intend to summarise the salient points made by the book and make some critical evaluative comments regarding a number of judgements and issues Bird addresses, particularly in the light of his stated aim to provide sound foundations for students of the gospels. I shall conclude at the end by providing my own evaluation of the role and limitations of the book in contemporary gospels scholarship.
2. Summary Of Contents
The book consists of six chapters, with an extensive and helpful bibliography and indexes of names, subjects, Scripture and ancient texts. Each chapter examines a more or less standalone topic related to the gospels; thus it at first appears to be a monograph. Moreover, each chapter also contains an extensive excursus, often a chapter’s length on its own. These address issues closely allie...
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