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Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ [Paperback]

By Martin Hengel (Author)
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Item description for Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ by Martin Hengel...

Why did the early church opt for four different versions of Jesus' life, when Tatian or Marcion preferred one consistent harmony? Did Paul really disregard Jesus' earthly life in his proclamation? After thoroughly examining all first- and second-century documents, Hengel challenges scholarly conventions.

Publishers Description
Why did the church, in forming its canon of scripture, choose to include four different and sometimes contradictory accounts of the life of Jesus, when others, like Tatian and Marcion, opted for a harmony, for one account? Professor Hengel examines the external historical evidence for the creation of the Gospels by those documenting the early church, like Papias and Ireneus. He also analyzes the origin of the uniform title "Gospel according to" and the process of dissemination of the gospel. He concludes that whether for the evangelists or for Paul, the gospel is both narrative and proclamation. Despite the problems caused by the different forms in which the gospel has come down to us, this very multiplicity remains a source of strength for the church. Martin Hengel is Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Tubingen.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ by Martin Hengel has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Choice - 03/01/2001 page 1289

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Continuum
Pages   368
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.72" Width: 5.26" Height: 0.88"
Weight:   1.09 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2000
Publisher   Trinity Press
ISBN  1563383004  
ISBN13  9781563383007  

Availability  96 units.
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More About Martin Hengel

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Martin Hengel (1926-2009) was a German historian of religion. His many books include "The Charismatic Leader and His Followers" and "The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Martin Hengel was born in 1963.

Martin Hengel has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Facets
  2. Investigations Into the Jewish Freedom Movement in the Perio

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Great book, poorly edited.  Dec 18, 2008
Martin Hengel, born in 1926, taught New Testament at Tubingen for many years. He was one of the most important NT scholars of his generation, and made a decisive break with Bultmann, who dominated NT studies for almost half a century. That period we can now look back upon as a sort of Babylonian Captivity. Hengel takes an historical view of the NT, far removed from Bultmann's anti-historical, existentialist stance. His rehabilitation of proper standards of NT scholarship has influenced many younger scholars in what is known as the 'Third Quest'.

Labels like 'conservative' and 'radical' break down when discussing his work. He still accepts the 'old liberal' view that only 7 of the Pauline Epistles are genuinely by Paul; though with the Gospels he has broken new ground. He makes an excellent case for dispensing with 'Q' - at least as a uniform written work, and his solution of the 'synoptic problem' seems to me entirely convincing [I have wrestled with it for over 40 years!]. He rightly - in common with most modern scholars - regards Mark - dated at 69/70 - as the earliest written Gospel. With an impressive command of the early Patristic writers [not just Papias] he makes what seems to me a watertight case for regarding it as a summary of Peter's teaching, of which Mark had close, first-hand knowledge. He argues that Luke's Gospel -dated to the mid/late 70s - came second, and that Matthew - in the 90s - drew on both Mark and Luke as well as various additional written and oral traditions. John was written around the same time - or slightly later - again from first-hand eye-witness testimony. On this scenario, fully argued and justified by the author, Q - so beloved of Harnack and Streeter - becomes redundant, but much more convincingly so than in alternative accounts - which [inter alia] either consider Matthew the first of the Synoptics [Butler]; or Mark [Farmer] or Luke [Farrer] the last. At least Hengel has put finally to rest the "two-document hypothesis" - which saw Matthew and Luke independently drawing on Mark and 'Q' [the dominant view until fairly recently]. His reconstruction is the one that leaves fewest missing or ill-fitting pieces of the jig-saw, and for that he deserves our profoundest thanks. He also helps us to understand the formation of the written Gospels in a truly historical - and not just a theological - light.

207 pages of text are followed by 113 of notes - all very valuable, and gathered together at the end of the book, so constant referring back and forth is necessary, but usually rewarding.

The work was written in German and translated by John Bowden who taught me at Nottingham in the 1960s. He has a long and distinguished record as a translator. Here, however, some poor editing has made the work less valuable than it might have been.

On page 33, we find: "a sympathy which was still lasted to the middle of the twentieth century". On page 37: "this was again confirmed again..."
Throughout the book one finds single sentences that run for 10 lines or more, which sometimes need to be read several times just to discover which is the main verb. The English is often so tortuous and unidiomatic that the translation really needs to be revised, and the book properly re-edited to make it worth the five stars that it potentially deserves.

The American price-tag is also exorbitant. It is far cheaper in Canada and the UK.
A Scholarly Traditionalist  May 24, 2005
"Martin Hengel, Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Tübingen, has produced a monograph of massive importance for gospel studies. In The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ, Hengel attempts, 'starting from Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria and applying all the references from the early church and the New Testament textual tradition, to give a plausible historical account of the development of this collection and to evaluate its historical and theological significance' (p. xi). In this work, Hengel brings early post-apostolic Christian testimony to bear upon the modern understanding of how the four canonical gospels came into being. This is a learned treatise in which Hengel draws together in one place reflections that that have occupied him over decades of Gospel study (p. xi).

"Hengel offers much positive material in his account of the origin of the fourfold Gospel tradition. One of his most significant observations is that the gospels never circulated as anonymous works in the churches. From the very earliest period, there was a concern that these writings be connected to an apostle. Hengel gives convincing evidence that the Gospel superscriptions were a part of the Gospels as originally circulated. In spite of its strengths,
Hengel's argument could be shored up at numerous points. First, his allowance of pseudepigraphal writings in the canon undermines some of his historical statements. Second, Hengel should have made a better case for understanding the evangelists' original intention that their texts be read aloud. Third, in spite of Hengel's remarks to the contrary, the evidence does not seem to support the notion that the canonical materials ran wild up until the end of he second century. Fourth, Hengel's assumption of Markan priority erodes the credibility of his plea for the reader to listen more closely to the early Church Fathers".

h t t p : / / d e n n y b u r k . b l o g s p o t . c o m
Deft, inviting, brilliant scholarship.  Sep 6, 2004
Martin Hengel is one of the giants of modern Biblical scholarship. And this, one of his latest books, does away with some of the most destructive assumptions that have haunted a century of New Testament Studies. He makes the case effortlessly that the gospels were never circulated anonymously. That Mark and Luke came earlier than Matthew and John may be true as well. Hengel sees through alot of scholarly confusion as he seeks for what really happened. And he writes so that outsiders and novices like me can understand him, as well as for the most firmly entrenched in the field. I love his detailed examination of the primary source materials of the first two centuries; and his brilliant logic. His output is really immense, and I'm studying as much of it as I can. In my studies so far he ranks with N.T.Wright, John P. Meier, Raymond Brown and John A.T. Robinson. If I suffered any disappointment here, it was that Hengel did not go into greater detail in his response to David Trobisch whose book on the New Testament I very much admire. I think we'll see a lot of refreshing break throughs in New Testament scholarship in the years to come, and some of them are going to be purely matters of perspective: focusing on the obvious which generations of supposedly enlightened thinkers have rather madly ignored. Hengel makes those kinds of break throughs. So does Richard Bauckham. Marvelous teachers!
Why four gospels instead of one?  Apr 16, 2001
Martin Hengel attempts to cover a great deal of ground in this relatively small book (200 pages excluding a huge number of endnotes). He discusses the four canonical gospels and the issues related to their authorship and recognition by the early church. Most of his time is spent on the three synoptic gospels while John is either neglected or only briefly mentioned.

One of Hengel's main points is that the gospels were written with titles already attached to them. "The gospel according to X" is how they were known from the very time of their composition. This view is in contrast to the view of some scholars who claim the gospels circulated as completely anonymous works until the mid to late 2nd century. Hengel's arguments on this topic are very persuasive. If the gospels were anonymous until the middle of the 2nd century, then we would not have expected such authors as Mark and Luke to be attributed to two of the gospels instead of the more respected Peter and Paul. There is also no known deviation in the naming of the gospels. This would seemingly be impossible if the titles were not attached to the gospels until 50-100 years after they began circulating because there was no centralized church government to impose such an edict in the second century. There is also no hint of any dispute in the early church regarding the titles of the four gospels.

Hengel frequently discusses the testimony of the early church Fathers such as Papias, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus in order to reach his conclusions. Before assuming Hengel is another Christian apologist it should be mentioned that he does not believe Matthew or John were written by those two disciples. However, he does believe they were originally written with the titles "gospel according to Matthew/John". He dates Matthew to 90-100 C.E. and John to 100-110 C.E, while dating Luke to 75-80 C.E. He also believes Matthew used Luke as a source.

This is the type of book in which the reader will not agree with everything the author claims, but will most likely find some areas of agreement. Hengel's arguments are always his own and he isn't one to follow the "party line" on any particular issue. He is to be commended for his originality and willingness to think for himself rather than relying on constant appeals to previous scholars to support his views.


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