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Why Four Gospels? Paperback – October 20, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1893729872 ISBN-10: 1893729877 Edition: 2nd Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Energion Publications; 2nd Revised edition (October 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893729877
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893729872
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


David Black opens up a whole new world of understanding as he traces the history, origin and development of the four NT Gospels. With a clear and firm belief in divine inspiration and the authority of these writings he encourages the reader to think of the rapid growth of the early church and the need for the gospel story in words and forms that the differing cultures and contexts could understand and embrace. . . . Black mainly uses Patristic documentation to support his hypothesis, asserting that the unhesitating support by the church fathers for the historicity and authorship of the four Gospels can no longer be doubted. (Randy Sizemore Evangelical Journal )

This book is a welcome David going against the Markan priority Goliath, and Black gives valuable reasons from patristic and textual studies to re-evaluate the Synoptic problem. --Southwestern Journal of Theology

From the Back Cover

“Black's brief study of the composition of the Gospels summarizes early Christian evidence about their origins and history.  He provides the interested non-specialist with a valuable survey of this wrongly neglected and unfashionable aspect of New Testament studies. His often-provocative pronouncements together with a healthy bibliography should stimulate much interest and further debate about the validity of early patristic testimony.”

—J. Keith Elliott
Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism
University of Leeds

“Those like myself who remain persuaded of the greater probability of the two-source hypothesis and do not find it to be incompatible with our understanding of the Gospels as divinely-inspired Scripture will nevertheless welcome Black's book as a clear and succinct statement of an alternative position that will greatly help students in their assessment of the various theories of the origins of the Gospels.”

—I. Howard Marshall
Honorary Research Professor of New Testament
University of Aberdeen

“One does not have to agree with everything Dr. Black has to say in this far-ranging book to recognize that he has made a real contribution to a central issue of New Testament research:  the nature and origins of the Gospels.  Not the least of the useful things Black has done is to give many ancient Christian writers renewed voice in the ongoing debate.”

—Rev. James Swetnam, S.J.
Professor Emeritus, Pontifical Biblical Institute

“Black has given us a refreshing reacquisition of the voice of the patristic fathers in the attempt to discover the origins of the four Gospels. While not all will be convinced of his reconstruction of the historical circumstances and sequence of the writing of the individual gospels, students and scholars alike will benefit from entertaining this alternative to the entrenched, mechanical Two/Four Source hypothesis.”

—Michael J. Wilkins
Professor of New Testament Language and Literature
Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
La Mirada, California

David Alan Black (D.Theol., University of Basel) is professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is the author or editor of 16 books, including Learn to Read New Testament Greek, Interpreting the New Testament, and Rethinking the Synoptic Problem. He has written more than 100 articles in journals such as New Testament Studies, Biblica, and Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Any book that makes you think is a good book and Why Four Gospels?
Arthur Sido
Rice is well-known for the extreme accuracy and rigorous research of her historical fiction work.
Perry Marshall
I highly recommend this book for everyone, and essential read for young New Testament scholars.
Leanna W. Eaton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 20, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Black gives the reader a short historical introduction to the origins of the Gospels. By historical, I mean a survey of the evidence of the church father's writings. While these works themselves are not inspired, they do paint a pretty consistent picture about the order of the Gospels according to Black. The first chapter is a survey of sorts, where little evidence is given. The next sections defend why he claims the books were written in the order he selects. The final chapter is a massive summary of sorts, proposing almost a CSI-style assembly of the puzzle via historical events.

What I found most interesting is the simplicity of the arguments. I for one do not believe the textual arguments of the so-called Markian Priority position (ie Mark came first), because all of the arguments I see are reversible and don't prove anything. The order he presents makes perfect sense in light of the historical arguments he proposes. Of course we may never know the exact order, but Professor Black makes a pretty good case in a short amount of space. He doesn't really talk about textual criticism, so for that information I would look elsewhere.

Why Four Gospels presents an alternative view to the main opinion of scholars, and comes with a massive bibliography. The book will give you confidence that we have all of the Gospels God intended for us to have. And he tells a great story about how the gospels came together in the Canon and gives us a great book for spring-boarding into the synoptic problem.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Perry Marshall on August 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this book because it was mentioned by bestselling author Anne Rice in her book "Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt." Rice is well-known for the extreme accuracy and rigorous research of her historical fiction work. After many years of writing popular books, and having rejected her Catholic faith at 18, Rice decided to tackle the character of Jesus.

She began to sift through stacks of scholarly literature about the historical Jesus, ranging from claims he never existed to "Q" theory to traditional church views of Jesus.

Her initial bias was to reject orthodox interpretations. But as a historian she was shocked at the shoddiness and hubris of many of the liberal arguments, and their unmasked contempt for Jesus himself. Ultimately she decided the view taken by the church fathers made the most sense by far. This book earned a spot on her "A List" of historical Jesus analysis.

Having read it, I now know why.

There is nothing more elegant than a SIMPLE explanation that corresponds with known facts. Ockham's razor: The least complex, most economical explanation is the best explanation. Allow me to summarize some of the author's core arguments in my own words:

-Matthew was written first, Luke was written second, and Mark is a transcript of Peter's sermons in Rome, in which he alternates between sections of Matthew and Luke, adding bits of his own perspective as he goes. Black re-assembles these pieces with ease.

-The gospels had to have been written before 70AD, because they only obliquely refer to the destruction of Jerusalem (i.e. Jesus' prophesies about no stone being left upon another).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Stephans VINE VOICE on August 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
I applaud Professor David Black for holding his own against the grain of "scholarly" source and form criticism of the gospels. Black's thesis and presentation truly lifts the spirits of those who have felt uneasy with the nonsensical explanations of how the gospels developed that are so popular among New Testament scholars.

Black identifies the trend among scholars who approach the New Testament and especially the gospels with a dogmatic presupposition that any explanation other than what the Church Fathers, early church, church tradition and faithful Christians have believed and passed down is to be preferred regardless of its unsubstantiated speculation, lack of logic and rejection of historical context.

Here Black gives the patristic Fathers their due credit in validating the gospel origins. Irenaeus, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Tertullian, Augustine, Justin, Jerome are all cited by Black in support of his thesis that Matthew was the first gospel written amidst the Jerusalem church during the apostolic era, Luke's gospel followed at the behest of Paul as a gospel to the Greek Christians, Mark was written as a record of Peter's oral narration using Matthew and Luke and Peter's elaborations, and John authored his gospel to give his account of Jesus' ministry, teachings and claims.

Black does not have to ignore loopholes, reject early church writers, make leaps of conjecture, rely on speculative form/source criticism or a fictional document (i.e. "Q" or "L"). His theory fits perfectly into the historical expansion of the church, the teachings of the apostles and 2nd&3rd generation church leaders. His theory supports the acceptance of the four gospels and the rejection of the pseudographic and gnostic gospels by the church.
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