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What the Gospels Meant Hardcover – February 14, 2008
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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From Publishers Weekly
Wills's follow-up to his bestselling works, What Jesus Meant and What Paul Meant, sheds new light on the four books of the Bible best known to most Christians. In taking the gospels apart, Wills helps readers see the oft-read stories from the life of Christ in a new way. As a former teacher of ancient and New Testament Greek, he provides his own translations of the texts, accompanied by incisive analysis that incorporates the work of other scholars. Although some Christians remain uncomfortable with the use of biblical scholarship to expand upon Christianity's scriptures, Wills is obviously convinced of its value and holds that it need not weaken one's faith. In his epilogue, for instance, he notes how scholar Raymond Brown, whom he quotes extensively, remained a devout believer even as he plumbed the depths of biblical scholarship. Wills explains that the gospels are not historically true as that term would be understood today, adding that they were composed several decades after Christ's resurrection and are the culmination of an oral preaching process. Rather than historical accounts, he considers them to be a form of prayer: a meditation on the meaning of Jesus in the light of Sacred History as recorded in the Sacred Writings. Readers willing to have their impressions about these texts challenged by an erudite scholar will find this to be fascinating and worthwhile reading. (Feb. 18)
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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
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I have one comment upon reading this book and Mr. Willis' insights into the Beatitudes, pg 77-85. The 5th beatitude has translations, such as, merciful, care of others and Mr. Willis uses "pity" on others. I feel the word, pity, is standoffish. It denotes looking down on others from our self satisfied lofty position. Many people in our world pity others, feel sorry for them and then go on their merry way. I believe that empathetic is a better word by putting yourself in their place, insightful understanding of how did they get there, and how do they feel--good or bad about their situation. Then an empathetic person digs in with understanding, prayer, comfort, help or assistance with the subtraction of enabling. Most certainly our Lord Jesus did all of this, when He placed himself in harms' way, was tortured, belittled, suffered, died and was buried for us. Our plight was His empathy. Thank you, Lord Jesus, we love You!