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That there are four canonical versions of the one gospel story is often seen as a problem for Christian faith: where gospels multiply, so too do apparent contradictions that may seem to undermine their truth claims. In Gospel Writing Francis Watson argues that differences and tensions between canonical gospels represent opportunities for theological reflection, not problems for apologetics. Watson presents the formation of the fourfold gospel as the defining moment in the reception of early gospel literature -- and also of Jesus himself as the subject matter of that literature. As the canonical division sets four gospel texts alongside one another, the canon also creates a new, complex, textual entity more than the sum of its parts. A canonical gospel can no longer be regarded as a definitive, self-sufficient account of its subject matter. It must play its part within an intricate fourfold polyphony, and its meaning and significance are thereby transformed. In elaborating these claims, Watson proposes nothing less than a new paradigm for gospel studies -- one that engages fully with the available noncanonical material so as to illuminate the historical and theological significance of the canonical.
The three chapters of Matthew known as the Sermon on the Mount contain truths so rich and powerful that even a lifetime of study could not exhaust their depths. For centuries, Jesus's majestic portrait of the kingdom of heaven and his unparalleled instructions for godliness have captivated Christians and non-Christians alike. In this classic commentary, now revised with a fresh look and ESV Bible references, seasoned pastor R. Kent Hughes guides readers through this glorious portion of the Bible with exegetical precision, expositional clarity, and practical sensitivity. Whether used by preachers, small group leaders, or individual laypersons, this resource will prove invaluable for illuminating the Sermon on the Mount's enduring power to enliven hearts and transform minds.
Traditional Christian art depicts Paul the letter writer, pen in hand, attentive to the Spirit. We might think we know better and imagine him pacing in agitation as he rapidly dictates to a secretary his letter to the Galatians. But in reality neither of these pictures is accurate. In Paul's day, producing a letter was a time-consuming and costly business. And we have ample resources from the ancient world to piece together what it must have been like. A secretary was usually part of the picture. But so were notes, drafts, corrections and careful rewrites, not to speak of scratchy pens, sooty ink and coarse papyrus. Interestingly, there is evidence that Paul involved his missionary team in the writing of letters. And then came the delivery over land and sea, the reading and circulation, as well as the epistolary afterlife of copying, collecting and storing. E. Randolph Richards has extensively studied ancient letter writing and secretaries. Informed by the historical evidence and with a sharp eye for telltale clues in Paul's letters, he takes us into this world and places us on the scene with Paul the letter writer. What first appears to be just a study of secretaries and stationery turns out to be an intriguing glimpse of Paul the letter writer that overthrows our preconceptions and offers a new perspective on how this important portion of Christian Scripture came to be.
1 Thessalonians provides a fascinating glimpse into the origins and social life of the Christ group in the ancient Roman city of Thessalonike, while 2 Thessalonians reveals how the community developed at a somewhat later time. This guide narrates the story of the founding of the group by considering the social and cultural contexts, the literary form, the rhetorical strategies, the theologies, and the reception of the two canonical letters. While centering on the texts of 1 and 2 Thessalonians themselves, Ascough draws widely on literary and archaeological data, giving particular attention to typical group behaviours among small, unofficial associations in the Greek and Roman period. The first four chapters focus on 1 Thessalonians, from the initial formation of the Christ group out of a small association of artisans through to how members negotiated various sorts of relationships: with Paul and his companions, with outsiders in Thessalonike and beyond, and especially with fellow believers within the group itself. The final two chapters turn attention to the shifting circumstances that required a second letter to be written, with its focus on disorder and disruption of social practices and theological beliefs. The epilogue briefly surveys Christianity at Thessalonike beyond the 1st century. This guide presents an overview of the historical development of the Christ group at Thessalonike. Moving beyond treating the canonical letters as simple repositories of theological opinions, Ascough demonstrates how 1 and 2 Thessalonians reveal ordinary life in ancient Roman cities. In so doing, he invites readers to enter the world of one of the many fascinating communities of Christ believers in the 1st century of the Common Era.
The guides in this series by Tom Wright can be used on their own or alongside his New Testament for Everyone commentaries. They are designed to help you understand the Bible in fresh ways under the guidance of one of the world's leading New Testament scholars. Thoughtful questions, prayer suggestions, and useful background and cultural information all guide you into a deeper understanding of the Christian story and the Christian life. Jesus was someone who inspired many misconceptions. So how can we come to know who Jesus truly is? How can we learn that he is much more than a man who once had good ideas or who told us how to establish a better relationship with God? The Jesus whom Matthew reveals in his Gospel is somebody with authority over everything in the physical and spiritual worlds. This is a Jesus we can trust with every aspect of our lives. These twenty-five studies help us to discover a full, first-hand account of Jesus as Messiah, Teacher and Son of Man, who gave his life for us all.
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