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In Reading the Gospels Wisely Jonathan Pennington examines the theological and ethical aims of the Gospel narratives, helping students see the interpretive fruit of historical and literary study. He contends that we can learn to read the Gospels well from various vantage points, including those of pre–modern, modern, and postmodern habits and postures.This book is ideally suited to supplement conventional introductory books on the New Testament that discuss each Gospel systematically. Most textbooks tend to introduce students to historical–critical concerns but may be less adequate for showing how the Gospel narratives, read as Scripture within the canonical framework of the entire New Testament and the whole Bible, yield material for theological reflection and faithful practice. Pennington neither dismisses nor duplicates the results of current historical–critical work on the Gospels as historical sources. Rather, he offers critically aware and hermeneutically intelligent instruction in reading the Gospels in order to hear their witness to Christ in a way that supports Christian application and proclamation. This text will appeal to professors and students in Gospels, New Testament survey, and New Testament interpretation courses.
This is a book that could transform many people’s reading of the Gospels. Jonathan Pennington has a wide knowledge of the specialist literature, and he skillfully distills what matters most for the task of reading the Gospels wisely. He is especially concerned that we read the Gospels in ways that are appropriate to the sort of texts they are. What comes across is a powerful sense that the Gospels are not only historical but also life–changing.–Richard Bauckham,University of St. Andrews; Ridley Hall, Cambridge
Many books on the Gospels slog through source criticism, form criticism, and redaction criticism––important topics to be sure. How refreshing it is, however, to find a book with a new approach, one that reads the Gospels as literature and sees their importance theologically. This book is like a cool drink of water in what is too often the desert of Gospel studies. While I don’t agree with everything Pennington says, his arguments must be reckoned with, and they further the conversation in productive and stimulating ways. I believe this is the best introductory book on the Gospels. Both students and professors will find it to be invaluable.–Thomas R. Schreiner,James Buchanan Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Reading the Gospels can be tricky, but it is important to read them with a full appreciation of their theology. Jonathan Pennington’s study helps you get there––and get there well, as well as wisely.–Darrell Bock,research professor of New Testament studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
Few academic enterprises of recent generations have been as chaotic and contradictory as the study of Jesus and the Gospels. Bultmann, Bornkamm, Borg, Burridge, Blomberg, Bauckham––and those are just some Bs––whom to believe? This learned yet lively volume attempts to transcend past miscues and cash in on lasting insights going back to patristic times. Pennington shows how the fourfold canonical Gospel ought to be read: as the proper entree to becoming Jesus’s disciple for the sake of loving God by the work of the Spirit. Few works explain more.–Robert W. Yarbrough,professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri
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