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Publisher's Summary

For most of the last 2,000 years, questions about the figure of Jesus have begun with the Gospels, but the Gospels themselves raise puzzling questions about both Jesus and the religious movement within which these narratives were produced. Is it possible to shape a single picture from the various accounts of his life given us by these Gospels?
This far-ranging course examines not only the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John familiar to us from the New Testament, but also the many other, apocryphal narratives and literary works that have contributed to our perceptions of Jesus, Mary, and Christianity - all of which are encompassed by the word "Gospel." In these 36 engaging lectures, you'll discover the human Jesus that underlies many portraits we have.
After introducing you to the era's volatile mixture of Mediterranean culture, Greek ideals and realities, Roman governance, and the religion of Israel, Professor Johnson turns to the Gospels and provides close analyses of key lines of text, explanations of the significance of language and terminology, and overviews of important issues with which scholars have long grappled. You'll learn about the different issues of faith each Gospel emphasizes, as well as the real-world logistics of spreading that faith during the early Christian era.
But it is the figure addressed by the Gospels who dominates these lectures, sometimes in ways less familiar than the portrayals of Jesus we most often encounter. Beyond the portrayal in the synoptic gospels, you'll study what the apocryphal narratives have to say about the childhood of Jesus. Among other things, you'll also learn about the source of Roman Catholicism's doctrine of Mary and examine the 2nd century faith of Gnosticism.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Jacobus on 08-02-13

Thorough wideiranging overview of scholarship

Prof. Luke Timothy Johnson's course about Jesus and the Gospels is wide-ranging and very informative. It starts with the question of the historical Jesus, where-after Johnson deals with each of the canonical gospels, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John helping to get a grip on these texts from a literary perspective. I found this part of the course not always easy to listen to, especially since there is no PDF or other written study guide available from Audible when you buy one of 'The Great Courses' audiobooks. I think it is essential to have it available. After the Canonical Gospels Johnson mode into the Apocryphal Gospels like the Pro-evangellium Jacobi and also the Nag Hammadi texts, like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Truth. I found the extra-biblical material very interesting.

Prof. Johnson is fairly easy to listen to, very enthusiastic and that is what makes it a great listen. He furthermore speaks with authority. He holds a more conservative stance on various issues, like the dating of the Gospel of Thomas, but gives a fair and well-balanced account of current scholarship.

I would recommend this course to anyone who has some time to just focus on Jesus and the Gospel. It comes highly recommended.

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14 of 17 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Very Happy on 05-27-16

Searching for truth

The author covered a wide range of thoughts, leaving no stone unturned. Excellent work!! I highly recommend it.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mary on 12-12-14

Very good

What did you like most about Jesus and the Gospels?

The course was really interesting and very informative.

Have you listened to any of Professor Luke Timothy Johnson’s other performances? How does this one compare?

This was my first book by Professor Luke Timothy Johnson but I will be purchaseing more.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

No, but I thought the course overall was excellent.

Any additional comments?

Initially, I was a little sceptical generally about these courses. However, having now completed Jesus and the Gospels I was gratified to find that it fulfilled my expectations. So much so, that I have persuaded my husband to Persue other Great Courses of interest to him. I would highly recommend this course to anyone.

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4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Peter on 10-20-16


Professor Johnson covers an fascinating range of material that gave me a satisfying sense of the breadth of early Christian literature covering Jesus's life. He clearly has a genuine, passionate interest in the topic and therefore delivers his lectures in an engaging style. I particularly appreciated his considered and objective analysis that I felt gave me a honest appreciation of how the Christian belief has developed. Professor Johnson takes care to explain things with clarity. I believe this is essential listening for all Christians honestly seeking a genuine understanding of the Gospels

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Sally jo-anne finlay on 03-21-18

Mind-blowing! Gave me a Totally New Perspective...

'This guy knows his stuff' to put it mildly! This is easily one of the best Audiobooks I have purchased. Having literally hundreds of books & significant amount of Audio titles, I didn't think there was much I hadnt heard before, primarily interested in gnostic, apocryphal writings.
However I started to wish I could start taking notes - there was so much. of interest in each chapter!
This was not just another reading of biblical text, it was a literary investigation of the Bible.
Putting it in the context of the times. The historical backdrop at the time of writing - When it was possibly written, Who was the most probable author, Why were they writing it (primary/secondary source) To what audience was it being written to, Why, What was the thrust of the content, Was it successful, What literary tricks or trends were used to get across the main message or the subtext presented - not to mention the obvious gnostic overtones & repetitive threads that echo OT & Torah. The various translations - or mistranslations! - cast an interesting alternative understanding coupled with his in depth knowledge of the historical context of the time. Often it revealed what seemed abit vague today would have been common knowledge without explanation back then. Each of the Gospels are delved into with each chapter - each character & the relationship discussed. After this is the Gnostic Gospels: Infancy Gospels, Thomas, James, Mary Magdalene, Essenic writings & the relationships to each.
I found that I had a better, deeper understanding of the message & time of Jesus. It was like having a complete bible study lesson each chapter! I believe you could easily pick up 5 -10 things, each chapter, that you never knew before...
The Professor has an engaging, energetic way of speaking that keeps you interested & feels personal.
Often peppered with little asides & jokes which provided some light relief on a subject that is often dealt with in a heavy manner.
I liked this book so much I wanted to send it to friends & I bought more in the series.
Dont think -' Oh I know how this one goes' because I think you will be in for a revelation.!

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