The Complete Gospels / Edition 4

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From the editors of the bestselling The Five Gospels—the first and only complete collection of the known gospel records—everything needed for the armchair search for the historical Jesus.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598150186
  • Publisher: Polebridge Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/2010
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 484
  • Sales rank: 452,757
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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The Complete Gospels


The Complete Gospels offers its readers several unique features. This volume is the premier publication of the Scholars Version translation of the gospels. SV, as it will be known, is a fresh translation of the original languages into idiomatic American English and is entirely free of ecclesiastical control.

The Complete Gospels is also the only publication including both the canonical gospels and their principal extracanonical counterparts under one cover. The other gospels are presented in fresh translations and with informative notes prepared for the general reader.

The Complete Gospels is the first publication for the general reader of the Signs Gospel, which many believe underlies the canonical Gospel of John. The Signs Gospel is thus older than John.

The Complete Gospels is also the first publication of the miscellaneous collection we call "Orphan Sayings and Stories" — anecdotes and sayings that never found a firm place in the manuscript tradition of any particular gospel, but which nevertheless survived as notes in one or more manuscripts.

The Complete Gospels also contains the Sayings Gospel Q laid out in parallel columns, with matched lines. By including both the Matthean and Lukan versions of the underlying Q text, the reader is able to see the basis on which scholars have reconstructed the Q gospel.

What is a gospel?

The word "gospel" translates the Greek euangelion, which literally means "good news." The term first appears in Christian literature in the letters of Paul, where it already has a technical sense, referring to the message about the death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ (e.g., 1 Cor 15:1-5). While two of the New Testament gospels use the word "gospel" (it is missing in Luke and John), they use it to indicate not the written works themselves, but rather the message preached either by Jesus (in Matthew) or about him (in Mark). Not until the middle of the second century are documents about the words and deeds of Jesus called gospels.

The New Testament gospels are complex works of literature that draw on a variety of oral and written sources of tradition, some from Jesus and some about him, such as miracle stories, collections of his parables and sayings, traditions about his birth and childhood, and stories about his death and resurrection. These different formats for preserving and transmitting Jesus traditions influenced the shape of the New Testament narrative gospels. But in addition, they each crystallized into distinct literary works in their own right, also called gospels, not all of which took the form of narratives.

The Complete Gospels presents examples of these different gospel forms. Besides the four New Testament gospels, there is what may be called a miracle gospel (the Signs Gospel), infancy gospels (the Infancy Gospels of Thomasand James), and a passion gospel (Gospel of Peter). There are sayings gospels:"Q (the shorthand designation for the Synoptic Sayings Source), the Gospelsof Thomas and Mary, the Secret Book of James, and the Dialogue of theSavior. Also included are fragments of gospels whose full character and ancient titles are unknown (the Gospels of the Hebrews, Nazoreans, and Ebionites, the Egerton Gospel and the Oxyrhynchus Gospels 840 and 1224) an esoteric edition of a New Testament gospel (Secret Gospel of Mark), and some free-floating Jesus traditions (our so-called Orphan Sayings and Stories).

What records have survived?

No manuscripts from the hands of the original authors of the gospels survive. All of our gospels, then, come to us at several removes from their authors. Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John are preserved in about 3,500 manuscripts. Best represented among these manuscripts is the Gospel of John, which was a favorite in the ancient Christian community as it is in modern time Greek texts behind our English translation is a reconstruction produced by patient and exacting comparison of thousands of differences in wording among the numerous copies. Most of the other gospels, however, come to us from the ancient world on the most meager of surviving records.

Of the sixteen other gospels in this volume, only two are amply represented by surviving manuscripts. They are the two infancy gospels, Thomas and James. The number of extant copies witnesses to the popularity of stories about the birth of Mary, Jesus, and the wondrous activities of the young Jesus.

Seven of our gospels are known to us on the basis of a single precious manuscript each: Gospel of Peter, Secret Book of James, Dialogue of the Savior, the Egerton Gospel, Secret Gospel of Mark, and the Oxyrhynchusn Gospels 840 and 1224. The Gospel of Thomas is preserved in full form only in Coptic, but it has also survived in three important Greek fragments, which attest to the fact that it was originally written in Greek. The Gospel of Mary is known in both Coptic and Greek fragments.

Some of our gospels are not even preserved in their original language. All but one of them originally were written in Greek, but the Gospel of Thomas (except for the Greek fragments), the Secret Book of James, and the Dialogue of the Savior are known to us only in Coptic translation. Four gospels only in fragmentary form: Gospel of Peter, the Egerton Gospel, and Oxyrhynchus Gospels 840 and 1224. One gospel (Dialogue of the Savior) has numerous gaps in the manuscript and another one (Gospel of Mary) is missing about half of its pages. The Gospels of the Hebrews, Ebionites, and Nazoreans are preserved only in fragments, in the writings of the early Christian authors who quoted from them. The Secret Gospel of Mark is available only in a transcription made by an l8th-century scholar.

The other two gospels in this volume (the Signs Gospel and Q) are not even "texts" in the strict sense, since we have no manuscript copies of them at all. They have been reconstructed by being isolated from the larger texts in which they are embedded: the Signs Gospel from John, and Q from Matthew and Luke.

Complete Gospels. Copyright © by Robert J. Miller. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

How To Use This Book
Introduction 1
1 Narrative Gospels 7
Gospel of Mark 9
Gospel of Matthew 55
Gospel of Luke 115
Signs Gospel 175
Gospel of John 196
2 Sayings Gospels 247
Sayings Gospel Q 249
Gospel of Thomas 301
Greek Fragments of Thomas 323
Secret Book of James 332
Dialogue of the Savior 343
Gospel of Mary 357
3 Infancy Gospels 367
Infancy Gospel of Thomas 369
Infancy Gospel of James 380
4 Fragmentary Gospels 397
Gospel of Peter 399
Secret Gospel of Mark 408
Egerton Gospel 412
Gospel Oxyrhynchus 840 418
Gospel Oxyrhynchus 1224 422
5 Jewish-Christian Gospels 425
Gospel of the Hebrews 427
Gospel of the Ebionites 435
Gospel of the Nazoreans 441
6 Orphan Sayings and Stories 447
Suggestions for Further Study 458
Glossary 460
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