Objective: To explore the four Gospels as the center of Christian faith.

The Gospels represent the core teaching of the Church about Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of the Christian faith. A study of the Gospels offers people new to Bible study an easy and familiar way to begin. They've heard many of the stories of Jesus and are exposed to Gospel readings at each Mass they attend. A mini-course on the Gospels will enable learners to compare and contrast the different approaches used by the four evangelists and to understand that the Gospels are theological statements about Jesus the Christ, not primarily biographical or historical documents.

A four-week course would include:

Mark's Urgent Message By Sean Freyne. N1196

The shortest and oldest Gospel is a dramatic masterpiece that cries out for a personal response from the reader or listener. Without infancy or resurrection narratives, the author of the Gospel focuses on the adult Jesus and how the people around him respond to and often misunderstand his message.

Matthew's Gospel: A Community Effort By John Wijngaards. N0196

This solid, up-to-date introduction to the Gospel of Matthew explores how the ancient Christian community in Antioch shaped the Gospel. It also examines the authorship, structure and theological themes.

Luke's Gospel: Like Entering a Painting By Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S.S. N0195

This overview of the Gospel of Luke likens the Gospel author to a great artist. "He painted with words on the canvas of the Christian imagination," writes Scripture scholar Eugene LaVerdiere. "Luke was a great storyteller. We see it in the Gospel as a whole and in each of its stories."

John's Jesus Story: 'Come and See' By Virginia Smith. N0897

Smith introduces the spiritual and theological themes of the Fourth Gospel...the wonderful world of colorful characters, picturesque phrasing and tantalizing themes quite unlike any other biblical writings. The Gospel invites the reader to "come and see" Jesus and become a committed disciple.

For a six-week course, add:

Exploring the Synoptic Gospels: Mark and His Careful Readers By Steve Mueller. N0100

If you've ever wondered why the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke are in some ways so similar and in other ways so different, this issue will provide some real eye-openers for you. Mueller's explanations are vital to an accurate grasp of just what the Gospels are and how they are intended to be understood.

The Passion of Jesus By Ronald D. Witherup, S.S. N0201

The events surrounding the death of Jesus were of such significance to his early followers that some writers speak of the Gospels having almost been written backward. Jesus' public life was explored in an effort to find meaning in his death. All four evangelists approach the topic somewhat differently, as Father Witherup demonstrates, depending in part upon the audience for whom they wrote.

For an eight-week course, add:

The Christmas Stories: Exploring the Gospel Infancy Narratives By Raymond E. Brown, S.S. N1294

America's foremost Scripture scholar and the author of The Birth of the Messiah, Brown explores the theological and spiritual meanings of the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke.

Resurrection Stories: Catching the Light of God's Love By Hilarion Kistner, O.F.M. N0394

Belief in the Resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith and the heart of the Good News. "The story of the Resurrection is told in all four Gospels, but all of the writers choose different ways to express the inexpressible, catching the light of the Resurrection and throwing it out to the world in a rainbow of God's love," Kistner writes.

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