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Posted March 22, 2012

Book: Reading the Gospels: Biblical Interpretation in the Catholic Tradition
Author: Christopher McMahon
Anselm Academic. Winona, Minn. 2012. pp. 228

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In Reading the Gospels, Christopher McMahon provides teachers and students with the tools to bring the study of the Gospels to life. McMahon's approach to the text utilizes the historical-critical method, one viewed by the Pontifical Biblical Commission as “the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of ancient texts.”

Full of pedagogical tools that both will aid the professor and help the students to proactively engage in scriptural analysis themselves, Reading the Gospels includes:

Introductory historical chapters that contextualize for the student the circumstances in which the Gospels were born

Detailed analyses of Gospel passages, from a historical and literary perspective

Alternative interpretations of the Gospel texts for students to consider

"Questions for Understanding" and "Questions for Reflection" at the end of each chapter

Ample endnotes for orientation and brief bibliographies for further research

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Wilderness (Mark 1:1-39; 6:31, 6:35

Mark sees the wilderness as an opportunity for intimacy with God, while at the same time also representing an opportunity for diabolical forces to pull one away from God. The wilderness is a lonely place, and therefore at once comforting and threatening. The devil lurks there, but it is also a place of great intimacy with God. This intimacy was the focal point of many of the prophets of the northern kingdom of Israel. For them, the wandering in the wilderness was a time of intimacy with God, when God pitched his tent among his people.

The Mountain (Mark 9:2-13)

The teachings Jesus delivers in the Jordan Valley are initially interrupted by the mountaintop narrative of Jesus’ transfiguration. In the Old Testament as well as throughout many religious traditions and the story of Jesus, mountains are places of manifestation, of heavenly vision, of otherworldly experiences. The confirming and consoling epiphany and metamorphosis of Jesus in chapter 9 helps to confirm and support the difficult teachings Jesus is delivering. On the mountaintop, the connection between suffering and glorification is made and the decisive insight into the life and ministry of Jesus is confirmed. But humans do not dwell on mountains, and so the journey to Jerusalem continues.

Table of Contents:

The historical background of first-century Palestine

The historical Jesus

The formation of the gospel tradition

The gospel according to Mark

The gospel according to Matthew

The gospel according to Luke

The gospel according to John