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April 1981 · Vol. 10 No. 2 · p. 2 

In This Issue: The Gospels

Elmer A. Martens

What is a gospel? Why are there four gospels? How do they relate to each other? How are they to be interpreted? How are their teachings to be applied to us today?

This issue of Direction is dedicated to summarizing and explaining some of the major assumptions and questions of current research on the gospels.

After a brief sketch of the history of gospels research, Devon Wiens argues that current analysis of the literary structure of the gospels in the light of increased knowledge of the early Christian communities has revealed the four evangelists to be creative theologians. Each gospel writer shaped his account of the words and deeds of Jesus to provide answers for the specific needs and questions of those to whom the gospel was addressed.

John E. Toews shapes his account of the current ferment in gospels study around the recent “revolution” which has shattered the older consensus that Mark invented a wholly new kind of literary form which was then expanded upon by Matthew and Luke.

The all-too-clear demands of the Matthean version of the Sermon on the Mount have long been a problem to interpreters. Bert Friesen reviews the liberal, dispensational, existential, and Anabaptist/Mennonite approaches to its interpretation and application.

The allusive unclearness of Jesus’ parables has been another crux for interpretation. In the final article, Dalton Reimer and Theodore Hiebert respond to a case study on the Parable of the Unjust Steward which has been prepared by Elmer Martens.

D. Edmond Hiebert examines some of the implications of the call to follow Jesus. He concludes that “following” means that the disciples adopt the trajectory of Christ’s life for himself.

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