Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels: Preface

Author's Bias: Unknown

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 up-to-date reviews.

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 and beyond.

Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall

"A splendid achievement! This volume fills a large gap in recent literature on the Gospels and their christologies…(and) will take its place on the shelf and desk of all alert ministers, hard-pressed students and even circumspect professors!" Ralph P. Martin, University of Sheffield, England

"What James Hasting's famous Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels did for the early twentieth century, IVP's stunning Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels has done for the late twentieth and early twenty-first century-provide an authoritative treatment of all the major historical and theological themes found in the four Gospels…. The Dictionary will prove a splendid tool not only for pastors and teachers but also for students and laypersons." Murray J. Harris, Trinity Evangelical School

"I am impressed by the breadth of research and the care with which evidence is weighed and conclusions are stated…. This volume makes readily available virtually all of the relevant date and presents summaries of the major conclusions that characterize contemporary Gospel scholarship." Paul J. Achtemeier, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia

"The DJG is a superb resource. Because these excellent articles are limited to Jesus and the Gospels, they can be much longer than is typically the case in reference works. The contributors represent the finest contemporary scholarship and are often among the leading authorities on the subjects they have been assigned. This is a reference volume that every serious student of the Gospels will grateful to own and use." Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary

"The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels offers the pastor, the serious layperson, and the theological student a marvelous summary of recent biblical scholarship as it is helpful for the study of the four-fold gospel…. This volume can be enthusiastically recommended to all who desire to gain a better informed understanding of the New Testament writings." W. Ward Gasque, Eastern College

"This reference work harvests the fruit of the best contemporary evangelical scholarship on the Gospels. Students who seek a responsible, critically conservative perspective on the Gospel traditions will find a rich source on information here. The up-to-date selective bibliographies make this volume especially valuable as a teaching tool." Richard B Hays, Duke Divinity School

Taken from "Dictionary of Jesus & the Gospels" edited by Joel B. Green, I. Howard Marshall and Scot McKnight. ©1992 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. (

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