Thursday, 6 June 2013

Exegetical Fragments: Editing the Gospels

John's gospel concludes this way:

      "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be
     written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be 
                                                                                                                                                               (John 21:25 ESV)

Readers of the gospels are not privy to the reasons why the writers of the gospels include what they do and why they leave out what they do.  We know that this editing process, as part of the writing of the gospels, was Holy Spirit-inspired.  But, by looking carefully at each particular gospel as a whole, we can get hints about why the Holy Spirit, the great Editor of the written Word and Biographer of the incarnate Word, included what he did in each particular gospel account.  We can start to see the purposes, themes, over-arching narratives, repeating patterns of events, sayings, words, etc., all of which provide clues to the message that each gospel writer wants to convey.  We can see that each of the particular gospel accounts, while telling the same story, are viewing it from a different angle, explaining it with a different set of emphases, and focusing our attention on a different set of themes, etc.  We can also see how these differing perspectives complement and complete each other when viewed together.  Much can be learned about each gospel writer's purpose for his particular account of Jesus' life and ministry especially by comparing what a particular gospel includes that the others don't or what a particular gospel omits that the others include.  


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