We live in the Age of Information. This is no less true today for students of the New Testament who
are inundated with a virtual flood of research on Jesus and the Gospels. How can those in professional
ministry, leaders in local churches and other Christian organizations, seminarians, even academic scholars,
stay abreast of fresh studies of Jesus and the Gospels?
In the last thirty years new methodologies and approaches have been championed, some
becoming commonplace. Older viewpoints have been transformed, some overturned, others confirmed. Unfortunately,
while these new studies have helped us appreciate better the perspectives of the Gospel Evangelists and
brought into sharper relief the challenge of the life and message of Jesus, they have also grown more
numerous and technical. How can the fruit of vital study of Jesus and the Gospels in recent years reach
the front lines of ministry and life together in our communities of faith?
At the same time, New Testament scholarship informed by classical Christian faith has
more and more entered the discourse on Jesus and the Gospels. A growing body of evangelical scholars have
begun engaging the academic community in stimulating ways. Regrettably, while the general populace on
both sides of the Atlantic have been exposed to the sensationalism of such projects as the Jesus Seminar
and Jesus: The Evidence, no major undertaking has made available to the larger church the
representative scholarship of students of Jesus and the Gospels which is both critically responsible
and theologically evangelical.
The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels has been prepared to meet such needs as
these. For students it provides introductory discussions and comprehensive surveys. For pastors and
teachers it provides reliable and readable information. For theologians and biblical scholars it provides
Because of its narrow focus on Jesus and the Gospels, the Dictionary consists of
fewer entries than other one-volume dictionaries. In selecting topics it was decided that subjects that
would be handled adequately in a one-volume Bible dictionary would not be included in the Dictionary
of Jesus and the Gospels. The goal was to provide greater depth of coverage and concentration than
would normally be available.
Articles in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels treat questions arising from
the Gospels themselves, longstanding traditions of interpretation of Jesus and the Gospels, significant
background issues, and the range of methodological approaches used in Gospels study today. These essays
concentrate on Jesus and the Gospels, limiting their discussions to the needs of those who study, teach
and expound the Gospels. To be both evangelical and critical at the same time has been the object of the
Dictionary. Its contributors, all representative of contemporary evangelicalism, have attempted
to portray a range of interpretive alternatives in their discussions as well as to be faithful to the
Gospels as Scripture.
We pray that the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels will be found useful to
those preparing for and engaged in Christian ministry in all its forms-from the small group to the lecture
hall, from the marketplace to the seminary, from the local church to the department of religious studies
Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall