Fortress Introduction to the Gospels Paperback – 1 Jan 1998
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About the Author
Mark Allan Powell is a Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and an internationally recognized theologian and Bible scholar. The author of more than 25 books and 100 articles, Dr Powell has served as a Visiting Professor at universities such as the University of California, Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Chicago, as well as at schools in Estonia, Tanzania, and Russia. He is best known for his work in literary criticism, Matthean studies, and historical Jesus studies.
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There are three sections for each of the four Gospels, discussing Characteristics (what makes it different from the other three Gospels), Historical background (where, when and why they were probably written and whether Matthew, Mark, Luke and John actually wrote them) and Major Themes (the messages that each writer wanted to get across). Things that the general reader might not be aware of, like the phantom "Q" Gospel that probably provided Matthew and Luke with material and the controversy over whether John or Lazarus was the "Beloved Disciple", are introduced in easy to understand fashion without overwhelming non-scholars. There is also an appendix summarizing the "Gnostic Gospels" which, although I wouldn't count on finding them in new copies of the New Testament anytime soon, are gaining credibility with scholars (especially the Gospel of Thomas).
I found it interesting and informative.