Books for Bible Students: Four Books for Gospels Students

By Bob Mink

Since Jesus was the greatest person who ever lived, and the Gospels are four of the most important pieces of literature ever written, it is not surprising that so many books have been written about them. And these books were written with a variety of purposes. The Bible student should consider these purposes when choosing a book for Gospels study.

10_Mink_Gospel2For a basic and quality introduction and overview of the life of Jesus presented in the Gospels, I recommend Paul Johnson’s Jesus: A Biography from a Believer (Penguin Books, 2010). In his introduction, Johnson describes the book as a “sketch” and “broad of brush,” but it is neither shallow nor simplistic. This overview would be helpful and enjoyable for anyone interested in Jesus’ life, including those unfamiliar with him, new believers, and longtime Christians.

A book I recommend that deals with attacks on the Gospels is Mark Roberts’s Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Crossway Books, 2007). Roberts answers critical questions about the Gospels. This book will help “people who have questions and doubts about the Gospels” as well as believers who are talking with those who have such concerns. It will also reinforce the faith of those who already believe the Gospels are true.

A.B. Bruce’s The Training of the Twelve (Kregel Publications, 1988, along with many other editions) offers the strongest examination of the Gospels’ content. The book was first published in 1871 and carries this subtitle: Timeless Principles for Leadership Development. I agree with Stuart Briscoe’s assessment in his forward to my edition: “Although over 100 years old, Dr. Bruce’s work speaks powerfully and effectively to the contemporary Christian generation.” This book is a prime proof that we make a huge mistake if we assume old books have nothing to say to us today, and choose instead to read only new ones.

Craig Blomberg’s excellent Jesus and the Gospels (B&H Academic) offers an in-depth look at the Gospels, more in-depth, in fact than many students will want. It was first published in 1997, and a second edition in 2009 increased the length from 384 pages to 512. It was written as a textbook and carries the subtitle, An Introduction and Survey. As one reviewer observed, “Pretty much anyone can benefit” from this “accessible guide to Jesus and the Gospels.”

Bob Mink serves as senior pastor with Discovery Christian Church in Moreno Valley, California, and as adjunct professor with Hope International University, Fullerton, California.

 

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2 Comments

  1. October 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Bob is a man dedicated to the craft of reading and now that he is no longer preaching full-time, I hope to see forthcoming books from his pen soon.

  2. Lynn Lusby Pratt
    October 31, 2014 at 9:15 am

    So glad to see a list like this! Thanks. I’ve found new appreciation for R. C. Foster’s classic Studies in the Life of Christ (the books seem to be available in one volume now: http://www.collegepress.com/storefront/node/21). I had not grasped what an expert R. C. was on the attempts in the early 1900s to rid the church of the authority of the Scriptures, belief in the deity of Jesus and the atonement, etc. (and did not even understand that all that had happened anyway). His Gospels material is written from this perspective. He takes every opportunity to highlight “controversial” Scriptures and—with startling precision—convincingly exposes the errors of false teachers. I also enjoy his wit; take this sample sentence about promoters of the social gospel, who like the ideas in the Sermon on the Mount but don’t want doctrine: “They would create ‘a new religion for this new age,’ but find themselves forced to go to the New Testament for their material.” (old Vol 2, p 489) As I watch the early 1900s repeating themselves today (with Bible colleges and churches using material that denies the same foundational doctrines) . . . well, R. C.’s work reads like today’s news alongside good Gospels commentary.

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