The Four Witnesses : The Rebel, the Rabbi, the Chronicler, and the Mystic -- Why the Gospels Present Strikingly Different Visions of Jesus

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9780062516473: The Four Witnesses : The Rebel, the Rabbi, the Chronicler, and the Mystic -- Why the Gospels Present Strikingly Different Visions of Jesus

The gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John are arguably the most important and influential books in Western history. Their accounts of Jesus do not simply add up to "The Greatest Story Ever Told," but "The Four Greatest Stories Ever Told." Why do they present such strikingly different versions of the same events? As the great filmmaker Akira Kirosawa demonstrated in his epic movie Rashomon, different witnesses can quite honestly remember the same event in very different ways. Now Oxford New Testament scholar Robin Griffith-Jones shows how the four gospels testify authentically yet very distinctly to Jesus' life, death, and message.

Jesus himself asked, ‘Who do you say I am?' If his question has ever intrigued you--if it has ever just caught your imagination--then this book has been written for you.

In The Four Witnesses, Robin Griffith-Jones brings the stories of Jesus to life for the contemporary reader as he revives the original power and intent of the gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John as individual witnesses. He presents a lively discussion of how and why each of the four gospels was written, considering the substance and style of the testimony itself as well as the unique context of each story. Rather than entering into the current historical Jesus debates, he offers a fresh reading of the texts with new questions in mind, the same questions, often highly personal, that each Gospel writer sought to address in his own work. For them, as for us, Jesus presented a enigmatic, challenging figure. By seeking insight into the mystery of his life and work, they hoped to find a new way to see the world and to understand our relationship with God.

"Who do you say I am?" Each gospel offers its own answer to Jesus' question, influenced by the context of its writing and the personality of its writer. By examining the distinct light shed by each gospel writer on Jesus' life, work, and death, readers can discover which perspective speaks most clearly to their own needs, hopes, and fears, and decide how to respond to Jesus' challenge. Most importantly, they can encounter in all four gospels taken together what one alone could not provide: a remarkably full and compelling presentation of Jesus and his powerful message.

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Review:

The Four Witnesses by Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the (Anglican) Temple in London, attempts to clarify the distinctions among the four gospels' quite different visions of Jesus. The four witnesses, as Griffith-Jones describes them, are the rebel (Mark), the rabbi (Matthew), the chronicler (Luke), and the Mystic (John). Griffith-Jones asks, "Who were these four writers? Where did they write and when? For whom?" and proceeds to give straightforward, balanced, intelligent answers. The Four Witnesses is most intent on making the point that each gospel was first written to speak to the situation of a particular religious community. For many readers, that will come as very good news, because it will help them to hear the particular messages that the gospels hold for their own communities today. For this reason, The Four Witnesses will also be a useful resource for Christian education programs in churches of many denominations.

About the Author:

Robin Griffith-Jones taught New Testament for several years at Oxford University and is currently a visiting lecturer at King's College, London University. He serves in one of the most historic positions in the Anglican Church, that of Master of the Temple in London, the famous church of the Knights Templar (www.templechurch.com). Griffith-Jones is the author of The Four Witnesses (on the four gospels), The Gospel According to Paul, and The Da Vinci Code and the Secrets of the Temple.



Robin Griffith-Jones served as chaplain and taught New Testament for several years at Lincoln College, Oxford University. He recently was named Master of the Temple Church in London, one of the most important and influential positions in the Anglican Church. He wrote this book in John Wesley's study at Oxford.

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