Jerusalem Cross


The Aim of Gospel Reading

My aim is to help you to read the Gospels by letting the evangelist himself be our guide.
The evangelists left many clues in their writing which show how they wanted their Gospel to be read. We need to look for their clues and than base our reading upon them. In this way, the Gospels will I hope come to life for us in ways we might not have expected.
With good observation on your part and some guidance on my part, I hope I can encourage you to discover the four Gospels for yourself.
What we will discover are three stories which have been remarkably carefully composed. Even when they look the same, we will find frequently that the message is different.

My aim therefore is to open up your reading of the Gospels, for you to discover what is there, not what we think is there. As we will see, all too often we can read an incident in a Gospel but our minds will be thinking of the same incident told quite differently in another Gospel. If we can learn to ask the right questions then we will receive good answers.

My interest is in the Gospel as we have it. Although it is helpful and important to compare the Gospels, I have little interest in sources, the traditions which lie behind the written Gospels we have. That would be a distraction from our purpose, to read the four Gospel stories as we have them.

There are many sites which give us reflections based on the Gospels. Few of them actually help us and encourage us to engage with the text itself. By looking closely at the text, we will be following the leads given by the evangelists themselves as they told their stories of Jesus. This does mean commitment and hard work, this is a serious site as someone said. The results as I have discovered for myself will be well worth it.

I have arranged the presentations with the individual reader in mind. They can be easily adapted for groups and reading together - which may well be the best approach.


May 2018: The Gospel of Mark has now been revised. Further revision will be done as the Sunday lectionary unfolds in coming months. Every page will have its date.

Intertextuality and Story

It was said to me some years ago that biblical studies today were concerned with intertextuality and story. Gospel Reading emphasises both.

Intertextuality is cross-referencing within the Bible, the many times that there are allusions or quotations from elsewhere. The Gospels were rooted in the Old Testament and a new reading of it in light of Christ. In our reading, I will be giving many references to the Old Testament to bring out its importance as the background for the story we will be reading. Only occasionally will I refer elsewhere in the New Testament.

The Gospels are stories which are divided into many different stories. Even they can be subdivided as well, the story of the Passion for example.
The great strength of Gospel Reading for me has been to discover how the evangelists assembled the Gospel, how the different episodes or incidents have been put together. It has frequently been fascinating to see how they are related. It is even more fascinating when, as mentioned above, an evangelist can take the same group of stories and through his editing give them a quite different message.

The experience of working on Gospel Reading has given me great admiration for those early Christians who took the various traditions they had received about Jesus, adapted them to the needs of their communities and then carefully composed them as a Gospel story.

Practical Comments: chapter and verse

The evangelist never intended his gospel to be divided up into chapters or verses, these would be added many centuries later. Even less did the evangelist intend the headings and subheadings which we find in many modern bibles. These reflect the modern editors' understanding of the Gospel but, as we will be seeing, in practice they often raise barriers to a good reading. Headings given in our Bibles usually break up the evangelist's thought and we will see how they often do so in the wrong places. The Gospel was written as a whole work from beginning to end without any breaks. Ancient audiences would have been far better equipped than we are today to listen to a complete reading of the whole Gospel.

That said, Gospel Reading will follow the chapters as far as possible because they are the best way to keep our reading organised.

Let us now a closer look at this project and consider a sample of the evangelists at work.