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Why did the early church opt for four different versions of Jesus' life, when Tatian or Marcion preferred one consistent harmony? Did Paul really disregard Jesus' earthly life in his proclamation? After thoroughly examining all first- and second-century documents, Hengel challenges scholarly conventions.
Why did the church, in forming its canon of scripture, choose to include four different and sometimes contradictory accounts of the life of Jesus, when others, like Tatian and Marcion, opted for a harmony, for one account? Professor Hengel examines the external historical evidence for the creation of the Gospels by those documenting the early church, like Papias and Ireneus. He also analyzes the origin of the uniform title "Gospel according to" and the process of dissemination of the gospel. He concludes that whether for the evangelists or for Paul, the gospel is both narrative and proclamation. Despite the problems caused by the different forms in which the gospel has come down to us, this very multiplicity remains a source of strength for the church. Martin Hengel is Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Tubingen.
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