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Anyone who reads the Gospels carefully will notice that there are differences in the manner in which they report the same events. Where many conservatives have resorted to resolve these differences through elaborate—though oftentimes strained—harmonizations, skeptics have viewed the accounts as hopelessly contradictory and unreliable.
In Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?, Michael Licona offers a fresh approach to the question of differences by comparing Gospel pericopes to the work of Greek essayist Plutarch. Licona discovers three-dozen pericopes narrated two or more times in Plutarch's Lives, identifies differences between the accounts, and analyzes these differences in light of compositional devices identified by classical scholars as commonly employed by ancient authors. By applying the same approach to nineteen pericopes that are narrated in two or more Gospels, Licona demonstrates that the major differences found there likely result from the same compositional devices employed by Plutarch and other ancient authors.
Illuminating the misguided conclusions of both conservatives and skeptics regarding the question of differences within the Gospels, Licona invites readers to approach the Gospels in light of their biographical genre, thereby understanding them more nearly the way the authors originally intended.
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2016
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"Licona should be applauded for helping his audience rethink their presuppositions about the Gospels by situating them among ancient Mediterranean biographies, rather than the modern kind, correcting a 'historical nearsightedness.' Moreover, the presentation is very reader friendly, with a glossary and appendices added to assist those lacking certain competencies. Interested readers can add this affordable volume to their libraries with confidence."--Reading Religion
"Licona s book is the most important book I ve ever read on the literary techniques of the Evangelists. There is no book that has this finesse based on the Gospel genre as a 'biography' and hence this study can be used with confidence in classes engaged in the Synoptic Gospels. His conclusions about how the Evangelists did what they did are reliable and give us yet one more clear glimpse in how to understand the nature of the Gospels."--Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed
"Professor Licona's new book is a monograph exploring some compositional techniques which the synoptic evangelists appear to have used. Clarificatory and thorough, it is an accomplished piece of work which it is a pleasure to commend."--J.I. Packer
"Criticism often progresses through comparison, as it does in this significant volume. Licona's experiment of exploring differences between the synoptics in the light of differences within Plutarch is suggestive in multiple respects, and students of the gospels will come away with much to ponder."--Dale C. Allison, Jr., Richard J. Dearborn Professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary
"Anyone who has looked at a synopsis of the Gospels will have wondered why the accounts of the same events in different Gospels vary. Michael Licona breaks new ground by arguing that the writers used the same compositional devices as the biographer Plutarch employed when he reworked the same material in more than one of his biographies. This is an illuminating fresh approach to understanding how the Gospel writers used their sources."--Richard Bauckham, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies, University of St. Andrews
"How worried should we be by the differences between the Gospels? Do they discredit the whole story? In an exemplary crossover of classical and New Testament studies, Michael Licona shows that the answer is 'not very worried at all': when we compare the techniques used in Greco-Roman literature, the striking feature is the Gospels' consistency rather than their differences. Troubled believers will find this book as important as classicists and New Testament scholars." --Christopher Pelling, Regius Professor of Greek, Christ Church, Oxford