Discovering Jesus: Four Gospels One Person,
by T. Desmond Alexander, IVP, 2010, 141pp.
Many first time readers of the New Testament have asked, 'Why four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, wouldn't just one do?' If you have ever wondered about that, then this is the book for you. Alexander begins by giving a brief overview of the Gospels. He highlights some common themes in the Gospel accounts such as the fulfilment of Scripture, the kingdom of God and the centrality of Christ's passion.
After that the scholar devotes two chapters to each the four Gospels. He skilfully teases out the special features their distinctive portraits of Jesus. In Mark, Jesus is the Son of God who gives his life as a ransom for many. In Matthew, Jesus is the Son of David who establishes the kingdom of heaven. In Luke, Jesus is the Saviour of the world who seeks the lost. In John, Jesus is the Lamb of God who brings eternal life through a new exodus. These portraits are not in conflict. Together they reveal something of the many splendored glory of Jesus' unique person and work.
Alexander gives attention to the composition of the Gospels, delving into the issue of which Gospel was written first (probably Mark), and to what extent Matthew and Luke drew on on material from Mark. He touches on the 'Q hypothesis' that seeks to account for passages common to Matthew and Luke that are not found in Mark. In a final chapter the writer reviews the key points of his book and offers some moving reflections on the wonder of Jesus.
Discovering Jesus is an accessible introduction to the Gospels that will help the reader of the New Testament to appreciate afresh who Jesus is, what he came to do and what it means to follow him.
* Reviewed for Protestant Truth Magazine.