By Fiona Hammond, Lay Ministry Education Projects Officer

An Impressionist artist and a Cubist artist walk into a bar…no wait that’s the wrong intro! What if you asked four artists, an Impressionist, a Cubist, a Realist and an Expressionist to paint your portrait? Would you expect that each would produce exactly the same image of you?

Hopefully the outcome would be four images, all recognisably of ‘you’, with each capturing a significant characteristic or expression. Perhaps each artist found something important they wanted to express in their image, and so they emphasised a different element of your face, your demeanour or the background. The Impressionist hopes their image will be displayed in your old school. The Cubist wants to win the Archibald Prize with this one, so paints for the judges. The Realist is keen to present you as a child of nature to a politically savvy populace. The Expressionist is hoping for the Archibald Packing Room Prize. It is easy to see where and why differences happen when there are four artists involved!

Some say that the writers of the Gospels were like four portrait painters, with different audiences and emphases in mind – the common subject, of course, being Jesus!

It is likely that the Gospel According to Mark was written first, and with its strong links to the disciple Peter, it is easy to see why the early Christian community loved this expression of the life and work of Jesus. It was written for a Gentile audience, and so has interesting things to say about the Jewish community’s treatment of Jesus.

Matthew’s author used much of Mark’s material, but wrote for a Jewish audience, with emphasis on the Jewishness of Jesus and the links between the new Christian community and the Jewish one out of which is was growing. No wonder there are differences between Mark’s and Matthew’s accounts.

Luke’s author wrote a couple of instalments (Luke and Acts), in the style of 1 and 2 Samuel, as if they were a continuation of the Jewish Scriptures, or the Old Testament, and the audience was…wait for it…ROMAN! There is a story in Luke’s infancy narrative that echoes the Roman story of two boys, Romulus and Remus, who, as mythological tradition has it, founded Rome.

There is just so much to explore when you read the Gospels, and whether you are reading them for the first time, or you know them like your heartbeat, the new BIBLE360 course, ‘Exploring the Gospels’, will have something for you to wonder about, dig into and enjoy.

This day-long face-to-face course is designed to get us all reading the Gospels for both inspiration and pleasure. During the seminar you will:

  • Explore the nature of the Gospels and how they came to be.
  • Understand how the early Church saw them.
  • Discover ideas about how the Bible ended up with the four Gospels.
  • Examine what makes each Gospel unique.

The FormedFaith team continues to provide opportunities for learning about faith, the Bible and our Church’s mission, and is now offering the popular 360 workshops as a series of webinars. Join us live, online, as we explore the origins of the Bible in ‘BIBLE360: Intro to the Bible’. Part 1 will be held on Tuesday 14 April at 7pm. Register your interest by emailing Jonathan Sargeant via [email protected] and he will send you more info.

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