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The Four Witnesses
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Robin Griffith-Jones taught New Testament for several years at Oxford University and is currently a visiting lecturer at King's College, London University. He serves in one of the most historic positions in the Anglican Church, that of Master of the Temple in London, the famous church of the Knights Templar (www.templechurch.com). Griffith-Jones is the author of The Four Witnesses (on the four gospels), The Gospel According to Paul, and The Da Vinci Code and the Secrets of the Temple. Robin Griffith-Jones served as chaplain and taught New Testament for several years at Lincoln College, Oxford University. He recently was named Master of the Temple Church in London, one of the most important and influential positions in the Anglican Church. He wrote this book in John Wesley's study at Oxford.

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At a time when most books on the Gospels are fixated on the earlier pieces or the documents that comprise them, Griffith-Jones, master of the Temple Church in London, focuses on the message of their complete texts. He takes some positions many scholars would disagree with (e.g., Mark's reliance on Peter) but is careful to inform the reader of each point under debate. He sees the diversity of the four views of Jesus in the Gospels as something to be valued rather than considered a problem. To help understand their messages, he depicts the four early churches the Gospels were written to, laying out the problems each church faced and how the Gospels helped them. For instance, the Gospel of Mark was an aid to Christians facing persecution in Rome, while Luke's Jesus brought compassion to poor Gentiles. Griffith-Jones acknowledges that each Gospel was composed with the belief in the resurrection, and he uses some of Paul's writings and the Book of Revelation to interpret those themes in the Gospels that address unveiling, or revelation in Jesus. Though the book includes scholarly material, lay readers will understand it. Recommended for its refreshingly different content and perspective on the Gospels.--David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernardino Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Griffith-Jones, an Anglican priest who is a chaplain and lecturer in New Testament Studies at Oxford University, makes a rather forgettable entr‚e into the already-saturated world of Jesus studies. The book begins with the tired observation that the Gospels offer not one, but four portraits of Jesus, and goes downhill from there. Griffith-Jones does little more than trot out the most basic findings of biblical scholarship: Mark was probably the first gospel to be written, while Matthew draws on Jewish traditions, sagely attempting to demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled Jewish prophecy. Matthew also stresses how similar Jesus is to Moses, depicting Jesus' brief asylum in Egypt as an echo of the Exodus story and highlighting the Sermon on the Mount's similarities to the revelation of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Luke's Jesus is revolutionary, calling for a new order of compassion for the poor, for women and for other downtrodden folk; Griffith-Jones writes that "there is mercy at work in Luke's Jesus... by which our ordinary categories of rich and poor" are rendered meaningless. John is the most poetic and mystical writer, emphasizing more than the other evangelists the rebirth and transformation of individuals who knew Jesus. To justify yet another book on the historical Jesus aimed at the general reader, an author must offer either original insights or stylistic flair. Griffith-Jones does neither; skip his book. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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