Thursday, January 19, 2006

Get yourself a Gospel synopsis

There's nothing quite like having everything Jesus said that's been revealed to us right in front of you. That's why in Bible class last night I mentioned that one of the most helpful tools a Bible student can possibly have is a synopsis of the Gospels. If I were building a Bible study library today from square one (in printed, not digital, media), my first purchases would be a parallel Bible, a Bible dictionary an exhaustive concordance of my primary Bible translation and a synopsis of the Gospels, in that order.

What exactly is a Gospel synopsis? A synopsis arranges the texts of some, or all, of the four Gospels, side-by-side for comparison and contrast. I use two, Gospel Parallels by edited by Burton Throckmorton (which covers Matthew, Mark and Luke only, not John) and the Synopsis of the Four Gospels edited by Kurt Aland. If your interest is to have all four Gospels in front of you at once, Aland's work is the obvious choice, but for easier reading (due to a larger, more legible font), Throckmorton's work is the better of the two.

Digitally speaking, there are sites that place English translations of the Gospels side-by-side or even have portions of them available for viewing in color-coded Greek, but it's hard to beat the speed and convenience of a book you can pull off the shelf anytime or take with you anywhere, like those by Throckmorton or Aland.