Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Four Gospels

The New Testament gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John offer four remarkably similar accounts of the life and passion of Jesus Christ. Although the first gospel chronologically in the bible is Matthew, scholars generally contend that Mark is the earliest of the four accounts and that it functions as a major narrative source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Further, there are many different ways of explaining the four different accounts of the Gospel. 

The simplest is that each Gospel was written for the benefit of a different set of people. Under this scenario Matthew was written for the Jews, Mark was written for the Romans, Luke was written for the Greeks and John was written for all men. At first glance there are characteristics of these books that support the analysis. Matthew is full of Old Testament quotes which would presumably appeal to those that owned the Old Testament Mark has a forthright, active and brief style which would appeal to the Roman mind. The Greeks were renowned for culture and science and Luke the physician, has a gospel of detail and with songs and hymns. Finally John comes along with the global or encompassing Gospel. Due to their strong resemblance and how each of them shaped their gospel, Mark, Matthew, and Luke are usually referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels.” 

The earliest book Mark, emphasized Jesus the sufferer; Matthew, Jesus the teacher; in Luke, Jesus the reconciler. In contrast to these descriptions is John’s innovative example of a biography meant to correct a particular early Christian community’s misunderstanding of Christ. John structures his narrative order differently than the other three gospels.  It appears that the purpose of John’s gospel was to reveal Christ’s nature and character. Additionally and unique to John’s gospel he omits the account of Jesus’ birth in favor of rendering Him as the personal, historical manifestation of the Logos or Diving Word. John saw Jesus as mystic!
As you can see above, of all the gospel accounts I am most fascinated with the gospel of John.

Because the reasons for the gospel of John is stated in John 20:31 “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His Name,” I am more compelled to reference his gospel rendition more than the other three.

Rev. D. Paul McZeal


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