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Parallel Lives of Jesus: A Narrative-Critical Guide to the Four Gospels Paperback – 17 Nov 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing (17 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 028106377X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0281063772
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Highly recommended for students and for all with an informed interest in the Gospels." Judith M. Lieu, Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

About the Author

Edward Adams is Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies at King's College London. He is the author of Constructing the World (T&T Clark 2000) and The Stars Will Fall From Heaven (T&T Clark 2007), and co-editor of Christianity at Corinth (WJK 2004).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Blessing A. on 1 Jun. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Happy with my purchase and delivery was on time
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mutiatu Dahunsi on 6 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recommended, even you might first find it difficult to understand but read it with an open mind and you would be able to acquire more know and understand so many facts of the gospel
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Four Gospels - One Story 10 Nov. 2011
By Dr Conrade Yap - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book brings a wealth of scholarship materials on the four gospels to the general reader. The key idea is that we ought to read the four gospels not as separate works, but four 'distinct yet overlapping narrative renditions of a shared story.' This is best done by learning to read the gospels in parallel, hence the title of the book. The structure of the book is divided into three parts. Part One sets the stage by reasoning why the gospels are to be seen as one unit. Part Two goes into the nitty-gritty of each gospel uniqueness, and how each of them complete the whole gospel story. Part Three demonstrates this by providing six examples of how the gospels can be read.

The author skillfully brings together a lot of credible scholarship material. He talks about the three 'synoptic' gospels as (syn=with; and opsis=view). He uses Kurt Aland's work on the synoptics, the Two-Source hypothesis (comprising the theory of the Markan priority, and Q), the Farrer theory, the Synoptic problem, and many more. He treats readers to a insightful overview of the beginnings of the gospel writing background. He describes the various forms of biblical criticism in a very clear manner: historical criticism, form criticism, source criticism, redaction criticism, narrative criticism. He also makes a case for the gospel writers as 'anonymous' rather than sticking with the traditional attribution to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Bringing together the sources, the writing, and the composition of the gospels tell us a lot about the contexts of the gospels at the time they were written.

The author vividly paints the perspectives of each gospel. John is the 'simplest and most profound' evangelistic and theological treatise. Luke is the most 'socially oriented.' Mark is 'action packed' and Matthew is the most 'Jewish.' What really makes me glad to read this book is the readability and flow of an otherwise very dry topic of scholarship and biblical interpretation/criticism. (Note to readers: 'Criticism' is a technical term for scholarship studies, an interpretive way to describe an intentional level of deep study/analysis, and is not used here as a negative way). For example, 'form criticism' essentially refers to a way of trying to understand the gospels according to different forms, like is it a parable? A story? A statement of fact? A conversational rhetoric? etc

The way Adams compares and contrasts each of the gospel pericopes is illuminating. I like the way he uses the very familiar structure Burton Throckmorton's way of comparing them the synoptic gospels, as well as John in table form.

Closing Thoughts

There is a lot to gain from reading this book. For seminarians and Bible school students, it is a fresh revision of what they have learnt in New Testament studies. For teachers, it is a convenient guidebook to help laypersons to understand the gospels and to share in a simple way the massive amount of gospel scholarship out there. For the layperson, it enriches the whole gospel reading experience as well as illuminate the passages. Most of all, the book gives all of us a fresh impetus to read the gospel and appreciate the life of Jesus. This is worth the price of the book.

Ratings: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. The opinions offered are mine.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Great Starting Point for Personal and Group Study 29 Feb. 2012
By A. Wencl - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've seen it cited many times that J.I. Packer said we should constantly meditate "on the four gospels, over and above the rest of our Bible reading." They aren't just a bunch of morality stories. They communicate truth essential to the salvation of all people. In Edward Adams' Parallel Lives of Jesus: A Guide to the Four Gospels, he seeks to help believers see the gospels as a coherent unity. It isn't that we have four gospels, but rather we have four accounts of the life of Jesus, each with its unique contribution and emphasis. Edwards accomplishes a lot in just under 200 pages, making the book both accessible to most readers and a helpful starting point for a more in-depth study of one or more of the Gospels "according to..."

The book is split in three sections. The first is more of an introduction to viewing the Gospels as parallel accounts of the same story. The stress on the unity and coherence is helpful for those who've given themselves more to the differences of the Gospels than to the common story. The next two sections are much more detailed. One deals with the unique characteristics of each Gospel as well as its individual contribution to the overall message of the four. Edwards, like most scholars today, believes Mark was written first and that Matthew and Luke used his account in writing their own. He further holds that John was at least aware of the Gospel according to Mark and wrote his account intending to avoid much overlap.

Personally, the last section I found as more of an open door than a walled-in room. It highlights a few important events in the Gospels with multiple attestations. For instance, the account of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee is described in Matthew, Mark, and John. By comparing the various accounts, Edwards presents a fuller picture of the event and helps draw out the individual emphases of each Gospel writer. I've been using this practice in our small group study of the Gospel according to Mark and it has helped our people better understand the author's meaning and more firmly cements the story in their minds. I'm planning on using it more in future studies.

In the end, the book is a useful resource for reading the first four books of the New Testament and developing a more comprehensive understanding of how they fit together and what sets them apart from each other. The final section shows promise as a demonstration of what is possible in both group and individual study. This and a good harmony of the gospels would be more conducive to personal study of the Bible than the more academic (and comprehensive) tomes by Blomberg and Stein, though I find myself frequently turning to those as well.

I received a digital copy of this work from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of review. The opinions expressed are my own.
a very good book 30 Jan. 2014
By Rolf Breemes - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very good book which I bought for my son who is studying Theology at the university Groningen Netherlands.

Very satisfied!Higly Recommended!
Text 14 Feb. 2015
By barbara Tobin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Required text for a course. Easy yo read and well organized.
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