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Taking the Bible Seriously VI: “The Gospels”

Date: 11/09/2016/Speaker: Rev Miak Siew

Slides: available at


Today we begin with a moment of silence, remembering September 11, the ones who lost their lives in coordinated acts of terrorism, and the many more who lost their lives in the conflicts and violence caused by actions taken to retaliate.

We continue in the 6th part of our 8 part series “Taking the Bible Seriously.” Today, we explore the Gospels. The word Gospel comes from the Old English word god-spell meaning “good news” which is a translation of the Greek word euangelion (eu meaning “good” and angelion “message”)

Rev Yap and Susan gave me some feedback last week that what we wanted to do became more Q&A but what would really be helpful would be a dialogue / conversation.

We would try that out today.

A gospel is an account describing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There are 4 canonical gospels. There are other gospels – the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter.

The canonical Gospels were not written by Jesus disciples – they were written by later followers. This chart shows the dates most scholars agree as to when the Gospels were written, as well as who they were traditionally ascribed to. The authors of the 4 Gospels did not sign off – the authorship were attributed much later eg Matthew in the 2nd century.

Warren Carter writes in the introduction to The Gospel According to Matthew in the New Interpreter’s Study Bible: “The Gospel genre is not an eyewitness account of Jesus’ life, but a form of biography. Ancient biographies use a chronological framework and episodic structure to describe the life, deeds, teachings, and death of a significant person. While honouring the person’s memory, these texts instruct, entertain, elicit praise, and provide readers with a noble model. Like these biographical texts, the Gospel seeks to shape the identity of communities of Jesus’ followers and to guide their way of life.”

Joel B Green in his introduction writes:

“Together with the Acts of the Apostles, the Gospel of Luke belongs to the genre of history writing, or historiography. This does not identify Luke’s concerns with reporting “what actually happened.” With historiography, four interrelated benefits of the past are put forward: validation, continuity, identity and pedagogy… Luke provides for the community continuity with Israel of old, identity with God’s purpose and validation as God’s people.”