An Oral Gospel Tradition? A real Gospel Tradition predating the Synoptics? @eerdmansbooks

Matthew had kindly posted several books he is dying to get into.

I like Dunn, but I do not agree with the premise of his book (and not just because he uses the Santa Claus of New Testament Biblical Studies as a source). However, I like – at the outset – Francis Watson’s book:

That there are four canonical versions of the one gospel story is often seen as a problem for Christian faith: for, where gospels multiply, so too do apparent tensions and 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. In exploring this claim, he proposes nothing less than a new paradigm for gospel studies — one that engages fully with the available noncanonical gospel material so as to illuminate the historical and theological significance of the canonical.

What I do not like is the use of non-canonical material. I do not think they add to anything, really. Not because they are heretic novels. No. Instead, I think they may represent a different tradition removed from the core of the early Christian community. Further, I believe that the Gospels are meant to compliment one another. To then add non-canonical sources written by authors who did not understand this classical paradigm negates their use.

However, the differences between the Gospels, all four, are something that should be considered. A theological reflection is necessary, not because each author remembered something new, but because each other sought to stretch out the previous author’s attempt. Mark wrote a story that invited an ending. Matthew, Luke, and John finished the canon.

So, anyway… there you go.

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