In this book aptly titled, Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels New Testament scholar Pheme Perkins delivers a clear, fresh and informed introduction to the earliest written accounts of Jesus' life, ministry, and resurrection as they are told in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Perkins situates the Synoptics within the wider world of ancient oral storytelling and literary production of the first and second centuries. This includes a candid discussion of the Gospel sources as well as a highly informative chapters on how books and/or documents were written and gathered in the ancient world and what this tells us about the Synoptic Gospels--items critical scholars all too often ignore. She also situates the Synoptics in relationship to their later counterparts known as pseudepigrphal gospels such as the gospel of Judas.
Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels presents a balanced, well-rounded and responsible look at how the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke came to be while nurturing their significance for Christians today. An outstanding resource for introductory or exegetical courses on the Synoptics, and an excellent resource for churches seeking to wrestle with the canon and why Christians hold to the Synoptics and not other spurious gospels.
John P. Meier
University of Notre Dame
Pheme Perkins has dedicated her career to communicating her professional expertise in both the New Testament and the Gnostic Gospels to her students in the classroom and to a wider audience of interested clergy and educated laity. Now she distills both her vast knowledge and her teaching skills in this book on the Synoptic Gospels. But the scope of this volume is much broader than the standard introduction to the Synoptics.
Perkins situates the Synoptics within the wider contexts of the composition and function of books in the ancient Greco-Roman world, the development of the idea of a New Testament canon, and the continuation of the Gospel genre in the Gospels of the second and third centuries. College and university professors will welcome this volume as a valuable teaching tool.
Adela Yarbro Collins
This book not only provides a much-needed general introduction to the Synoptic Gospels but also introduces its audience to the apocryphal Gospels, including the Gospel of Judas. Perkinss treatment is fair and balanced, and her analogies to contemporary culture are inspired and illuminating.
Margaret M. Mitchell
University of Chicago Divinity School
Pheme Perkins provides an accessibly written, evenhanded, and carefully reasoned guide to major issues in Gospel studies. In economical fashion she enables the reader to gain a sure understanding of the place of Synoptic and apocryphal Gospels in ancient literary culture and in the development of early Christianity. Highly recommended.
Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.
Weston Jesuit School of Theology
Pheme Perkins provides a comprehensive and up-to-date discussion of each Synoptic Gospel and a balanced analysis of all the apocryphal and Gnostic Gospels that have attracted so much attention recently. Her knowledge of the ancient texts, long experience as a teacher, sound judgment, and clarity of expression make this book a reliable guide for college and seminary students and for all who are perplexed about the Gospels and the development of early Christianity.
Church of England Newspaper
"Perkins' book is an excellent resource that deserves to be read widely. . . . It should be on the reading list for undergraduates and ordinands, and would make an excellent (and affordable) refresher for clergy wanting to reacquaint themselves with recent developments in the academic study of the synoptic gospels."
Perkins undertakes the challenge of explaining the what and why of the methods scholars use in gospel study. Although this text is not for scholars, it focuses on broad-scale scholarly consensus. Highly recommended.
The authors long experience as a teacher, her knowledge and love of the ancient texts, sound judgment and clarity of thought and expression make this introduction to the Synoptic Gospels a trustworthy guide for all who are perplexed about Christian origins. It can serve as a fine textbook for college and seminary courses, as well as a reliable survey for all those who want to know where Gospel studies are today.
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