cover image What the Gospels Meant

What the Gospels Meant

Garry Wills, . . Viking, $24.95 (209pp) ISBN 978-0-670-01871-0

Wills’s follow-up to his bestselling works, What Jesus Meant and What Paul Meant , sheds new light on the four books of the Bible best known to most Christians. In taking the gospels apart, Wills helps readers see the oft-read stories from the life of Christ in a new way. As a former teacher of ancient and New Testament Greek, he provides his own translations of the texts, accompanied by incisive analysis that incorporates the work of other scholars. Although some Christians remain uncomfortable with the use of biblical scholarship to expand upon Christianity’s scriptures, Wills is obviously convinced of its value and holds that it need not weaken one’s faith. In his epilogue, for instance, he notes how scholar Raymond Brown, whom he quotes extensively, remained a devout believer even as he plumbed the depths of biblical scholarship. Wills explains that the gospels “are not historically true as that term would be understood today,” adding that they were composed several decades after Christ’s resurrection and are the culmination of an oral preaching process. Rather than historical accounts, he considers them to be a form of prayer: a “meditation on the meaning of Jesus in the light of Sacred History as recorded in the Sacred Writings.” Readers willing to have their impressions about these texts challenged by an erudite scholar will find this to be fascinating and worthwhile reading. (Feb. 18)