Category Archives: The Gospels

The Mother in Law

The New Testament Gospels are themselves surprises writ large, but they also contain within their pages traces of other surprising stories. These were anecdotes that were obviously known to the evangelists but were either familiar enough to the earliest audiences of the Gospels or so inconsequential to the master narrative that they required no elaboration. […]

The Limbo of the Theologians

By the Middle Ages the theologians of the Catholic Church had constructed an elegantly coherent model of the universe: it explained the nature and existence of our world, the church and the individual believer’s place in it. It was a beautifully crafted cathedral of logic, each element neatly dovetailed with the next. The foundations were […]

Christianity as a “Made Thing”

In the simplest, if also the least useful, of definitions, Christianity is what people who call themselves Christians believe and how they act in accord with those beliefs. Today the beliefs held by Christians are so many and so diverse, and so too the acts performed in their name, that a descriptive approach to Christianity […]

Why Are There Gospels and How Were They Made?

The lives of the dead survive only as the memories of others. Those memories, along with the subject’s own reflections, are now preserved in a variety of mechanical forms: in writing, orally on recordings, and visually on film, but the memory of those who lived long ago is available only in the form of the […]

“That you might believe…”: Arguing With the Gospels

The Gospels are usually first and most often encountered in church. In that setting, where they are read out piecemeal, they sound like pastiches, anecdotal collections of Jesus’ miracle stories or parables. The listener is instructed, uplifted. Little wonder: they are being recited in effect to the choir. For someone who reads them through, however, […]

Jesus, Paul and the Earliest Christian Church

According to the Gospels’ earliest and most primitive summary, of Jesus’ message, the Good News (euangelion) as it was called, was: “The opportune moment is now and the Kingdom draws near. Reform yourselves and put your trust in the Good News” (Mk. 1:15). How that message was understood is quite clear from our earliest preserved […]

Habent sua fata libelli: The Gospels and the Quran in Mortal Hands

The Gospels and the Quran are the emblematic books of two of the world’s most widespread and influential religions, past, present and future. They have been read and heard by billions of people who have regarded their contents as a manifestation of God’s will, expressed in the Quran in God’s own words and in the […]

Echoes from Sinai: Looking Inside the Gospels and the Qur’an

In the capacious byways of Amazon.com you can probably discover–and perchance even purchase–everything I had to say on the subject of the Scriptures of the Jews, Christians and Muslims. Or almost.  Authors do not normally hold back on their readers unless they are planning a sequel, a Son of Sinai, which I am not.  But […]

Jesus in Islam

To speak of Jesus in Islam is to plunge immediately into an enormous paradox. Jesus of Nazareth, the person regarded as the Son of God by the Christian Church, reappears emphatically and often in the Quran as a prophet. Though there are signs that some of Jesus’ own contemporaries may also have thought of him […]

The Gospel, the Qur’an and the Mishnah in Conversation 3-12

The assumption that sits beneath the monotheistic faith of Jews, Christians and Muslims is that God, the creator of the universe and of everything in it, has chosen, “at sundry times and divers manners,” to communicate with His human creatures. Early on the converse seems to have had a social quality, as when God strolled […]