On my summer reading list is a new book by Darrell Bock and Benjamin Simpson, both faculty members at Dallas Theological Seminary. The title of the book is Jesus the God-Man: The Unity and Diversity of the Gospel Portrayals (Baker Academic, 2016). Bock and Simpson treat the Gospels as reliable sources for the life of Jesus, and they do give us a coherent, new reading of these diverse texts. They are not just concerned with the Christ of faith but the Jesus of history, to use the traditional terms.
It is typically understood that the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—provide us with the story of the human Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Anointed; the story of the Christ from above, that is the incarnate Word, is the subject of John’s Gospel. Not so fast . . . Bock and Simpson say. The portrayals in the Synoptics and John are far more interesting and complex.
At the end of the day, Bock and Simpson demonstrate that the Gospels give us different stories, different portrayals; but in their analysis their accounts are complementary not contradictory. The Divine Christ is not absent from the Synoptics. The earthly Jesus is not alien to the Fourth Gospel.
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