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What the Gospels Meant Paperback – Bargain Price, January 27, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for What the Gospels Meant:
“Full of riches . . . Wills brings to bear the skills that have justly brought him renown as America’s greatest public intellectual: encyclopedic erudition, concise prose and a polyglot’s gift for ancient languages. . . . This introduces . . . biblical scholarship as a whole to a wide audience of readers hungry for a sophisticated account of those eternally curious texts.”
“What readers will find here is an engaging look at the Gospels, informed by the best biblical scholarship, as well as by Wills’s own faith. . . . This eminently readable volume . . . underscores the attributes of each narrative to highlight truths more crucial than whether there were four discrete Evangelists.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Wills’s scholarship . . . is impeccable, placing the gospels within their original cultural and religious context . . . A book that offers profound spiritual and historical insight in an accessible and intriguing format.”
“Poetic, penetrating, and moving. General readers and scholars alike will profit from Mr. Wills’s basic contention, that reason and faith are not antinomies.”
—The New York Sun
“An engrossingly concise sequel to his Paul book. Wills . . . shows that [the Gospels are] theological statements, applying Jesus to the different situations confronting each writer’s community.”
—The Boston Globe
“Readers willing to have their impressions about these texts challenged by an erudite scholar will find this to be fascinating and worthwhile reading.”
“A remarkable achievement—a learned yet eminently readable and provocative exploration of the four small books that reveal most of what’s known about the life and death of Jesus.”
—Los Angeles Times
Top Customer Reviews
That's why it's hard for me to get excited whenever yet another commentary appears. But Garry Wills' What the Gospels Meant is in a class of its own, as readers of his previous books might well expect.
Wills argues that the four gospels need to be read as forms of prayer, "meditations on the meaning of Jesus in the light of Sacred History as recorded in the Sacred Writings" (p. 7). As such, the gospels are (1) continuations of the sacred scriptures of the Hebrews and (2) accounts of Christ's indwelling in the Christian community. (Wills argues that the notion of the community of faith as the mystical Body of Christ is a quite early one, asserted by Paul in his baptismal hymn in Galatians 3.) Read individually, the gospels are on-the-ground "reports" from specific Christian communities. Read together, they constitute creed.
Wills examines the four gospels by focusing on the specific message and tone unique to each. None of the basics of what he has to say will surprise anyone who knows a bit about the New Testament. Mark, whom Augustine called Matthew's pedisequus et breviator ("drudge and condenser"), writes in less than elegant Greek and emphasizes the suffering of the persecuted Messiah and the community of his followers. Matthew is the great teacher, who neatly (and sometimes pedantically) collects Jesus' sayings (including the Sermon on the Mount) and connects them in with sacred scripture and prophecy.Read more ›
Speaking of seminary and divinity school (I attended both, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for a year before the right wing ideologues got a hold of it and Yale Divinity School after that), while attending both I developed a profound esteem for the late Raymond E. Brown, whose commentary on John and books on the death and birth of Jesus stand at the pinnacle of New Testament scholarship. Today no one thinks twice upon seeing a Biblical commentary written by a Roman Catholic scholar, but only a couple of generations ago such a thing was unheard of. It was only after Vatican II that Catholic Biblical scholars embraced the critical study of the Bible. No scholar did more to invigorate such studies within Catholicism as Brown. Anyone reading this will quickly discern how deeply indebted Wills is to Raymond Brown. This debt is indicated from the outset.Read more ›
As to the rest of it, he's a wonderful translator of New Testament Greek, but I find these books rather schizophrenic. Wills undoubtedly has zeal and believes in his subject matter, yet he strains to make rationalist explanations of things so as to make these books more modern. For example, trying to explain the nativity narratives of the Gospels and the worldviews of each Gospel in language similar to deconstructionist critics. Yet he will elsewhere talk grandly of the Spirit at work in the lives of the disciples. One wonders why he has trouble accounting works to the Spirit in some places and none in others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was an excellent book for bible study I attended last year, the facilitator was Henry Fliegel, conversant in several ancient languages, who helped explain much of the meaning... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Very readable summary of what was going on in the world of the evangelists as they wrote their gospels. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ken Feldt
reading this along with the gospels enhances my understanding of themPublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Scholarly and well reasoned. I appreciated reading this.Published 13 months ago by Joseph grochowski
The meaning of Jesus in sacred history, in sacred writings, found in Wills' concise book.Published 13 months ago by Larry Keeter
All of Garry Wills books are outstanding. I am trying to purchase every one.Published 18 months ago by Otto
Garry's discussion of the four gospels is very enlightening. I enjoyed the book very much. The discussion was well written.Published on March 11, 2014 by MSHusker