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Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction Paperback – October 1, 2012


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Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction + Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels + Who Chose the Gospels?: Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801039371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801039379
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"This is a book that could transform many people's reading of the Gospels. Jonathan Pennington has a wide knowledge of the specialist literature, and he skillfully distills what matters most for the task of reading the Gospels wisely. He is especially concerned that we read the Gospels in ways that are appropriate to the sort of texts they are. What comes across is a powerful sense that the Gospels are not only historical but also life-changing."
--Richard Bauckham, University of St. Andrews; Ridley Hall, Cambridge

"Reading the Gospels can be tricky, but it is important to read them with a full appreciation of their theology. Jonathan Pennington's study helps you get there--and get there well, as well as wisely."
--Darrell Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary

"Many books on the Gospels slog through source criticism, form criticism, and redaction criticism--important topics to be sure. How refreshing it is, however, to find a book with a new approach, one that reads the Gospels as literature and sees their importance theologically. This book is like a cool drink of water in what is too often the desert of Gospel studies. While I don't agree with everything Pennington says, his arguments must be reckoned with, and they further the conversation in productive and stimulating ways. I believe this is the best introductory book on the Gospels. Both students and professors will find it to be invaluable."
--Thomas R. Schreiner, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Few academic enterprises of recent generations have been as chaotic and contradictory as the study of Jesus and the Gospels. Bultmann, Bornkamm, Borg, Burridge, Blomberg, Bauckham--and those are just some Bs--whom to believe? This learned yet lively volume attempts to transcend past miscues and cash in on lasting insights going back to patristic times. Pennington shows how the fourfold canonical Gospel ought to be read: as the proper entrée to becoming Jesus's disciple for the sake of loving God by the work of the Spirit. Few works explain more."
--Robert W. Yarbrough, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri

About the Author

Jonathan T. Pennington (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is associate professor of New Testament interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew and has published a number of tools for learning biblical languages, including New Testament Greek Vocabulary and Old Testament Hebrew Vocabulary.

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Customer Reviews

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Pennington provides a scholarly yet humble approach in answering these questions.
Mathew Sims
In this book, Dr. Pennington asks the question, "What does it mean to read the Gospels well?"
Dr. Mike Zachary
I highly recommend this book for any seminarian or series student of the gospels.
Mark Henry Baker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tom Farr on November 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Gospels of the New Testament give us the life and teachings of Jesus, and in the Gospel of Matthew in particular, Jesus says that whoever does the words that he says is like a wise man who built his house on a foundation of rock rather than a foolish man who built his house on a foundation of sand. If the Gospels give us the life and the words of Jesus, then according to Jesus, there is a wise way to read the gospels, and there is a foolish way to read the gospels. The wise way of reading leads us into deeper relationship with Jesus and results in personal transformation.

READING THE GOSPELS WISELY by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Jonathan Pennington is an invaluable guidebook on understanding what kind of writings the gospels are, their purpose, and how to read them in a way that draws us closer to Jesus and transforms our hearts.

Pennington spends considerable time exploring the literary genre of the gospels and gives us a working definition of what the gospels are, "Our canonical gospels are the theological, historical, and aretological (virtue-forming) biographical narratives that retell the story and proclaim the significance of Jesus Christ, who through the power of the Spirit is the Restorer of God's reign." He explains why we need the gospels and why we need four of them. He also works to show that the teachings of Paul and other New Testament writers were built upon the content that would be recording in the four Gospels, so that there is no disconnect between, for example, the teaching of Jesus and the teaching of Paul.

Pennington briefly walks us through reading Scripture in general well, reading it historically, literarily, and theologically, keeping these three avenues in balance.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James J. Kane VINE VOICE on October 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Our four Gospels are like stained-glass windows, which capture and refract the sun into different shapes and hues and images. Even a mighty cathedral would be unduly darkened and under-appreciated if illuminated only by one pinhole window, so too the intricacies and beauty of God's revelation in Jesus the Christ deserve a flood of light from all four sides.

In the introduction to his book, Reading the Gospels Wisely (published by the Baker Academic, a division of Baker Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan) Jonathan Pennington's doctoral supervisor, Richard Bauckham of St Andrew's University writes,

"His concern is with helping Christians read the Gospels in a way that is faithful to the sort of texts they are... He invites us to read the four Gospels as history and theology - each as a narrative whole in its own right, as the climax of the great scriptural metanarrative, and as the keystone in the archway of the whole canon of Scripture. What is perhaps most distinctive in his approach is his concern for Christian virtue and discipleship."

I believe that Pennington does a wonderful job of providing a rich and detail guide in learning how to read the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament. And I appreciate this book as both a Christ follower and a Christian minister.

In this twelve chapter book, Pennington lays out a case for calling the Christian Church to a greater study, understanding, and application of the first four books of the New Testament - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And then he proceeds to make a solid case on why they need to be read well and then suggests a format of how to read them well.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Borah on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Writing formal reviews can often be wearying for both the writer and most especially the reader. This brief reflection on "Reading the Gospels Wisely" will hopefully give enough reason for you to buy this book and read it thoughtfully, without the unnecessary exhaustion associated with more technical reviews.

[[...] for more details on the book]

Those wishing to hear a scholarly and winsome treatment defining the "gospel" will love chapter one, not only for it's thorough research, but it's simple, orthodox interpretation of key OT and NT texts.

The discussion of genre in chapter two is also well balanced, a great supplement to books such as "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" by Bauckham.

Chapter three begins the task of poking at implicit evangelical assumptions about the structure and importance of the NT with the fourfold gospel witness as compliment and in some ways guide/constraint to the occasional nature of the letters.

Horizontal readers and texts critics will eat up chapter four, and chapter five is the best treatment of historiography that I've ever ready (what a gem in the midst of a Gospels textbook!).

This review is already getting long, suffice it to say, chapter six will blow your hermeneutical socks off along with chapter seven, and parts two and three of the book will guide your wise reading into the necessary/difficult, life-changing task of preaching and applying the Gospels.

Pauline guys will love chewing on the purposely overstated chapter twelve, which is a fun and fitting conclusion to this work.

Understanding the testimonies about our God and Savior Jesus Christ is certainly a worthy pursuit, and Dr. Pennington's book sets the standard towards this wise end.
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