Making the Gospels: mystery or conspiracy?

Paul W. Barnett

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


The Gospels are the most important texts of the Bible because they tell the story about Jesus—who he was and what he achieved. If we did not have the Gospels, the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament would be left hanging and the passing references in the apostles’ letters would leave us baffled about the identity of this mysterious figure, Jesus.

During the past several hundred years some scholars have implied that key figures from the first century had conspired to present a Jesus who was different from Jesus as he really was—Paul, Mark, and the editor of the so-called “Q” document. The real Jesus, it is claimed, was not a redeemer but a charismatic rabbi or prophet. Paul Barnett engages with key advocates of a deconstructed Jesus by attempting to work out historically just how the Gospels came to be written. As a result of this inquiry, a cogent picture emerges that explains many of the who, the when, and the why questions about the writing of the Gospels. Inevitably, however, because of our distance from that era, there are many details missing and many details that remain a mystery. But mystery does not imply conspiracy.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEugene, Oregon
PublisherWipf & Stock
Number of pages264
ISBN (Electronic)9781532651069
ISBN (Print)9781532651052, 9781532651045
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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