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Synopsis of the Four Gospels Unbound – 1 Dec 1999

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Product details

  • Unbound
  • Publisher: American Bible Society (1 Dec. 1999)
  • ISBN-10: 5550007886
  • ISBN-13: 978-5550007884
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,215,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 29 Nov. 2003
Format: Hardcover
This synopsis edition of the four canonical gospels follows the text of the Revised Standard Version, one of the more accepted versions of the Bible in the scholarship of the last generation of Biblical scholars. It presents the four canonical gospels in parallel format, following the text from the beginning, and going more or less in chronological order (there are places where the combination of texts is ambiguous at best).
Kurt Aland, the editor of this text, is also one of the major editors of note of the Greek New Testament - most authoritative versions of the Greek New Testament have Aland's work in it somewhere, if not as the chief editor, then certainly as an influence. Aland used the Greek New Testament (Nestle-Aland 26th Edition) as the basis for revising the text here, although the bulk of the text comes from the RSV. This text is an English-only version - there is an edition that couples the English version with the Greek.
One of the most useful features of this text, as opposed to other synopses, is that it includes all four gospels, rather than just the three synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Synoptic is a word that can be readily understood by taking it apart into pieces - syn-, as in synonym, meaning roughly 'the same', and optic, as in the optic nerve, meaning roughly 'to see' or even 'eye' - synoptic can mean 'seeing with the same eye.' Yet, those who read the three synoptics know that, even though they parallel, they are far from exact matches. The gospel of John has a different eye on the gospel topic altogether - including it in a text such as this shows where parallels can be drawn, and highlights the unique quality of John, as well as the unique attributes of the synoptics.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 29 April 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A synopsis is a layout of the gospels in parallel, so that Matthew, Mark and Luke can be compared. Unlike many others, this volume also includes parallels from John. Of all the Synopses available this provides the best value for money.... The layout is clean and spacious (compared to Sparks or Throckmorton, which are old fashioned and cluttered). The text is recent ed by K. Aland. Once you have studied the gospels in this way, you will never look at them again without reference to one another
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 31 reviews
78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Practical and useful 29 Nov. 2003
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This synopsis edition of the four canonical gospels follows the text of the Revised Standard Version, one of the more accepted versions of the Bible in the scholarship of the last generation of Biblical scholars. It presents the four canonical gospels in parallel format, following the text from the beginning, and going more or less in chronological order (there are places where the combination of texts is ambiguous at best).
Kurt Aland, the editor of this text, is also one of the major editors of note of the Greek New Testament - most authoritative versions of the Greek New Testament have Aland's work in it somewhere, if not as the chief editor, then certainly as an influence. Aland used the Greek New Testament (Nestle-Aland 26th Edition) as the basis for revising the text here, although the bulk of the text comes from the RSV. This text is an English-only version - there is an edition that couples the English version with the Greek.
One of the most useful features of this text, as opposed to other synopses, is that it includes all four gospels, rather than just the three synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Synoptic is a word that can be readily understood by taking it apart into pieces - syn-, as in synonym, meaning roughly 'the same', and optic, as in the optic nerve, meaning roughly 'to see' or even 'eye' - synoptic can mean 'seeing with the same eye.' Yet, those who read the three synoptics know that, even though they parallel, they are far from exact matches. The gospel of John has a different eye on the gospel topic altogether - including it in a text such as this shows where parallels can be drawn, and highlights the unique quality of John, as well as the unique attributes of the synoptics.
Throughout the text, just as in any good study bible, Aland marks the references and possible attributions to Hebrew scripture texts. There are indexes to the gospels and the complete New Testament at the end.
One of the uses of this kind of text for the 'average' user (as opposed to the scholar or student, who might be more interested in minor textual variants) is examining the gospels side-by-side to see what is included and omitted from the different books. For example, we are using this text at my retirement centre as part of the Advent Bible Study, looking at the Christmas stories in the gospels. One can see immediately the variations in the text are significant. Mark has no Christmas story at all - the first appearance of Jesus is as a full-grown man, from Galilee (not Bethlehem), being baptised by John. Matthew begins with a genealogy of Jesus (via Joseph) going back to Abraham, paralleled a few chapters later in Luke, who has a genealogy going back to Adam (with different names scattered throughout). Matthew lacks the travel from Galilee to Bethlehem - the family is already there; Matthew also lacks the manger scene and the shepherds. Luke lacks the wise men, but includes extensive and poetic monologue/dialogue from Mary, who is silent in the early portion of Matthew. Smaller differences also appear - in Matthew, angels always speak to people in dreams; in Luke, they seem to make 'real life' appearances.
The variations can go on and on; rather like taking down the stories of different people who witness the same event, or recording the impressions of people who read the same book, the records might be different but each valid and possessing integrity in its own right.
This is a very practical and handy text to have, examining the four gospels in a way that encourages further study and reflection.
94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
just to clarify 6 Jun. 2002
By Matthew Westerholm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
just to clarify some of the other reviews, please note that this book is the "ENGLISH-ONLY TEXT", and it does not have the Greek features that some of the reviewers claim that it has. There is a greek/english version as well, and THAT is what they refer to.
:-)
86 of 90 people found the following review helpful
A Valuable Resource 10 Jun. 2000
By John Noodles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Presumably, anyone looking for a synoptic parallel knows what what it's for, but in case not, a brief description might be useful. This book lines up the various pericopes from each gospel in parallel columns, so that their rendition in each can be compared. This allows readers better to discern small, subtle differences among them, and to determine more easily, for instance, who used what source, redaction, theology, and so forth...for instance, Q material is readily apparent when you see that Matthew and Luke contain identical material that isn't present in Mark, and to see this, you don't have to flip back and forth from one gospel to another, because they're all lined up for you, side by side.
One confusing thing about this book is that there is notational nomenclature our the kazoo, which isn't very well explained. For instance, you will notice that the Gospel names at the head of each column is occasionally bolded. Sometimes all of them are. Sometimes they're bracketed. I couldn't find anything in the book to explain this. Had my seminar prof. not explained them, I'd still be in the dark.
That said, the text is well referenced. This isn't a "study" guide, so it isn't glossed, but it is footnoted with plenty of relevant citations. Dubious text--or text that is widely accepted as having been added by later copyists--is footnoted...for instance, the "sweat like blood" verse in Luke's rendition of the Gethsemane pericope.
For anyone embarking on a serious of analysis of the synoptic gospels (and John), this book is a great tool.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
One of the most essential study aids to the serious study of the Gospels 11 Jun. 2006
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This volume represents the best effort by NT scholar Kurt Aland to arrange in chronological order the events recorded in the Gospels. Though this would in the hands of any scholar involve some degree of interpretation, the order here is largely based on that of the Gospel of Mark, which is generally thought to have provided much of the chronology for the writers of Matthew and Luke.

If one wants to gain the best possible understanding of the gospels as a whole and of the uniqueness of each individual gospel, a tool such as this is invaluable. One could search out parallel passages in each gospel in one's own Bible, but it is much easier to use a tool such as this. Sometimes the differences are minor, sometimes more substantial. Reading through the gospels in this edition will also highlight how different Luke, with its emphasis on the poor and constant critique of the wealthy, is from Matthew and Mark, or John from the other three.

The translation used is the Revised Standard Version, which is widely acknowledged to be one of the most accurate. Many fundamentalists dislike it because of the way it translates some portions of the Old Testament that in the KJV had been translated in a way to prefigure the New Testament, but even fundamentalists have not questioned the accuracy of the NT translation. Footnotes allude to some variants among the Greek manuscripts, while end material includes a helpful outline of the contents of the four gospels and an index of gospel passages.

A word about the English only versus the Greek-English. If you are a very serious student of the NT with facility in Greek, you should get the twin language version. My own Greek is very rusty and I found the very large Greek-English edition to be unwieldy and hard to use. Even if you own the Greek-English edition, I would recommend the English only edition. It is comparatively inexpensive and I find it far easier to use in every way. But like I said, my Greek at this point of my life is pretty weak. I retain enough to follow a discussion of Greek terms in commentaries, but not enough to read on my own.

After a couple of good translations of the Bible, a good Bible dictionary, and a Bible atlas, this is the New Testament tool that I most frequently use and most highly recommend.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A bargain . . . 28 April 2000
By Matthew W. Dunn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A synopsis is a book which puts the the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) in columns, so that one can see more readily the agreements, disagreements, omissions, changes, etc. amongst them. Really good synopses try to integrate the Gospel of John as well. This is a really good synopsis. Kurt Aland's work is known for its quality and scholarship. Not everyone would need this book--only those who would be interested in studying the Sacred Scriptures more deeply in a technical manner. Since Aland's synopsis has been completely translated into English, it would best suit people like seminarians, pastors, or undergrads/lower-level graduate students. This is a nice volume at a good price. Well worth having in a Bible student's pile of books.
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