Ten Guidelines for Interpreting the Gospels

We have four Gospels that tell the same story. We have four unique gospels telling four different stories about the same Person.We must harmonize the gospels. We must let the Gospels stand alone, as viewpoints, all truth, of different primitive Christian communities.

One of the hermeneutical mistakes that I have made in the past is to attempt to fully harmonize the Gospels. In doing do – while it is possible – it removes the distinct flavor of each Gospel. There were not written by the same people – but different people, with different backgrounds and thus, different voices.

The Internet Monk gives us some tips on Interpreting the Gospels.


1. Don’t harmonize the Gospels. That’s like taking four paintings and combining them into one. You come up with something no one painted and no one intended to paint. Let each Gospel author be an artist in his own right. However, a Gospel synopsis, such as those available from UBS, are very useful and important in comparing Gospel texts to one another WITHOUT harmonizing them.

2. When you interpret anything in the Gospels as if the words were spoken or the incident happened in the contemporary world (especially the west), you are almost certainly headed in the wrong direction. The Gospels come to us from another time and place. They aren’t inaccessible, but they require us to let them be what they are and not attempt to contemporize them.

Go read the rest here.

You Might Also Like

9 Replies to “Ten Guidelines for Interpreting the Gospels”

  1. Great post P!

    Knowing the historical Jesus and the individual views and communities of those who wrote the Gospels,and the people that they wrote to and for,would be a good thing. Seeing that these writers of scripture were all different people,yet all were led by the One and the same Spirit of truth…There is no doubt that John's Gospel is (the Gospel of the church) he tells us of the place from which the " bread of life " came and why…

Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.