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Gospel Writing
A Canonical Perspective
Francis Watson
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POD; Published: 5/26/2013
ISBN: 978-0-8028-4054-7
Price: $ 52.50
679 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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That there are four canonical versions of the one gospel story is often seen as a problem for Christian faith: where gospels multiply, so too do apparent contradictions that may seem to undermine their truth claims. In Gospel Writing Francis Watson argues that differences and tensions between canonical gospels represent opportunities for theological reflection, not problems for apologetics.

Watson presents the formation of the fourfold gospel as the defining moment in the reception of early gospel literature — and also of Jesus himself as the subject matter of that literature. As the canonical division sets four gospel texts alongside one another, the canon also creates a new, complex, textual entity more than the sum of its parts. A canonical gospel can no longer be regarded as a definitive, self-sufficient account of its subject matter. It must play its part within an intricate fourfold polyphony, and its meaning and significance are thereby transformed.

In elaborating these claims, Watson proposes nothing less than a new paradigm for gospel studies — one that engages fully with the available noncanonical material so as to illuminate the historical and theological significance of the canonical.

Read more about the book on EerdWord.

Simon Gathercole
— University of Cambridge
"A wonderfully wide-ranging book, full of learning and insight. One of the most significant books on the gospels in the last hundred years, this work will undoubtedly shake up the current study of the gospels."
Lewis Ayres
— University of Durham
"Francis Watson offers here a striking and powerful argument for the importance of reading Scripture as a canon. The argument is constantly historical as well as theological, exploring the character of the early church's decision to accept a fourfold symphonic gospel. . . . All should celebrate the manner in which Watson sets a new agenda for those who ask why we continue to read the gospel in this form."
Dale C. Allison Jr.
— Princeton Theological Seminary
"The scope of this major contribution is breathtaking. Watson expertly moves from Augustine to Lessing to Q to Thomas to the synoptic problem to the sources of John's Gospel to the Gospel of Peter to the emergence of the fourfold gospel canon to Origen to early Christian art and liturgy. The upshot is a slew of new observations and intriguing proposals that open up fresh lines of inquiry. Required reading for all students of the gospel tradition."
Library Journal (STARRED review)
"This brilliant work is likely to be a touchstone in early Christian studies for years to come. Essential for academic and seminary libraries and an ornament to the scholar's study."
Journal of Theological Studies
"In this impressive, energetic new magnum opus, Francis Watson sets out to topple key conventional paradigms of gospel origins in favor of a far-reaching new construct. . . . This reviewer finds himself profoundly instructed and expects to assign Gospel Writing to his students for a long time to come."
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
"Gospel Writing is filled with engaging material, and it is a thought-provoking and well-researched book."
Reviews in Religion & Theology
"Wide-ranging, striking, powerful, and breathtaking are just some of the ways that Francis Watson's Gospel Writing has been described. To call this book a substantial contribution to the field is an understatement. . . . Watson's presentation is compelling and his argumentation thorough."
Theological Book Review
"A highly integrative account of gospel formation and reception that looks to embrace and understand the positive role played by apparent incongruence experienced when reading texts together."
Review of Biblical Literature
"An impressive book both in the range of topics it discusses and in the depth in which it discusses them."
Bible Study Magazine
"A refreshing approach. . . . Watson explains how the Gospels should be treated as a necessarily interrelated whole. Believing each Gospel is worth studying independently, he details the reception history of each and compares them with the non-canonical gospels of Thomas and Peter, among others. He concludes that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John together comprise 'a new text, more than the other than the sum of its parts.'"
Southeastern Theological Review
"Francis Watson has written an ambitious and impressive work that seeks to undermine the prevailing position on the construction of the gospels and to replace it with a new paradigm. . . . Watson displays an incredible depth and wide range of knowledge. . . . [He] boldly takes on several major scholarly paradigms and is a force to be reckoned with, even if his proposals do not ultimately win the day. . . . A fascinating read and one which deserves a careful consideration by all serious scholars of gospel literature."