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What the Gospels Meant

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  209 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills interprets the four Gospels

Garry Wills’s recent New York Times bestselling books What Jesus Meant and What Paul Meant were tour-de-force interpretations of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Now Wills turns his remarkable gift for biblical analysis to the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 14th 2008 by Viking Adult
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Dec 07, 2008 Kirsti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, theology
Discussion of the similarities and discrepancies in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

I enjoyed Wills's translations, which he did not prettify in the way that many translators do--he kept the sometimes awkward constructions and tense shifts that others smooth out. I especially liked that he translates "the valley of the shadow of death" as simply "the breaking point."

I was always taught that, in the book of John, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" referred to John himself, who was too mod
Feb 21, 2009 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
This is a quick read about a difficult and broad subject. Wills is a prolific writer, covering subjects as diverse as Lincoln, the Catholic Church and theology. Most of what Wills has to say about Jesus and the Gospels he gleaned from the theologian Raymond Brown, therefore feels condensed and watered down. Still it is a good starting point to understanding the focus of each gospel, but I felt like wanted to know more. I guess I have to read more Brown for myself.
Jul 12, 2015 Jackie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting compare and contrast for the four gospels. This includes faults by the writers of those four epistles: inconsistencies, order of chronology, author identification, and issues with language such as consistency of style and grammar. The analysis of content in general is followed by individual book analysis: Mark, Matthew, Luke and the beloved John.

Beware of the difficult words: for me to get more than one new word per sentence makes for dismissal of them, or in other words: light read
Joel Wentz
Jul 14, 2015 Joel Wentz rated it really liked it
Not quite as good as "What Jesus Meant," but certainly stronger than "What Paul Meant," Wills provides a thoroughly-readable overview of the 4 gospels. He clearly respects the source material immensely, and discusses his own faith with a sharp historical, academic edge, which is something I love to find in theological writing. As a believer myself, I found his portrayals of the gospel stories very compelling, and I was drawn into the differences between the evangelists. I found myself reflecting ...more
Jul 07, 2008 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I don't read much religious commentary, but I needed a little something while waiting for books on hold to arrive and saw this volume, and Wills is a good, respected historian (though he shifted from early American history to religious history). I enjoyed it and learned quite a bit; questioned some of my beliefs (hardly solidly grounded in the first place). I was surprised by how much I knew though, as there was very little mentioned (in the way of the stories and such) that I had not heard. I g ...more
marcus miller
Jun 21, 2013 marcus miller rated it really liked it
Enjoyable and thought provoking review of the four gospels in the New Testament. Wills explains the differing motives and emphases for writing and also explores some of the differences between the four books. For those who claim to take their Bible "literally" Wills approach may be irritating or maybe even heretical. On the other hand, if you are interested in some differing ways people look at the Gospels, and acknowledge the differences and similarities in the Gospels, Wills provides a useful ...more
Holly Quinn
Feb 07, 2015 Holly Quinn rated it liked it
More than other things this book gave me a sense of the importance of Raymond Brown in modern Catholic theological thinking. Very concise, well written and documented, with many Gospel examples clearly elucidated. There are more in the What the ______ Meant series written by Brown but I doubt I'll read them though I confidently recommend them to people this sort of writing appeals to.
Gordon Wilson
Mar 09, 2012 Gordon Wilson rated it really liked it
This is a great book for someone curious about the New Testament. I have always wondered about how the Bible was influenced over time. This series by Garry Wills really answers a lot of my questions. I would recommend it to anyone curious about the gospels and how they came to be. The author has done a fantastic job in putting together the work of many historians and scholars into any easy to read and understand book. I really enjoyed it.
Dec 27, 2010 Rachael rated it really liked it
Pretty good though I get the feeling that it is simply a redaction of Raymond Brown's which since he quotes it so often. I'd also like to see more acknowledgment over areas of debate, such as, where the community of Mark was located- Wills takes the position it was in Syria though the scholarly majority would place him in Rome. But in terms of outlining basic features of the gospels that set them apart this does a good overview.
Apr 27, 2013 Garry rated it really liked it
In keeping with the other theological books by Wills: clear, concise, well reasoned, and authoritative without being authoritarian. Wills makes clear the radicalism of what Jesus preached. He also discusses the differences between the Gospels -- their whys and wherefores -- with each offering a different facet, each offering a different perspective, and together a more complete narrative.
Sharon Nakagawa
May 06, 2011 Sharon Nakagawa rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
This description of the Gospels seemed honest, open, and informative. I was able to use its accounting to work through my own faith and Christianity as an individual. I found it refreshing and most helpful to be trusted with this kind of view. I will be sure to consult the writings of Raymond E. Brown, which Wills consistently praised and heavily relied upon for this book.
Kathy  Petersen
What the Gospels Meant delivers just what its title promises ... at least the Gospels according to Gary Wills, and that's good enough for me. I suppose a passing acquaintance with the New Testament is helpful, as Wills presupposes some familiarity. I doubt that a reader without knowledge of the Gospels would be particularly interested anyway.
Wil Roese
For centuries Mathew was thought to be the first Gospel but now Mark is thought to be the first. Mathew and Luke used Mark and a common source called Q for their Gospels. The Gospels show Christ from different perspectives. John focuses on the divinity, Mark on the suffering and Mathew on the teachings.
I really don't know how to rate this book as I'm still pretty "new" to biblical scholarship though I did notice that it was very Catholic leaning. I really don't know how to rate this book, but I will give it the default 2 stars because I didn't hate it, but for the most part I have to keep studying.
J. Ewbank
Jul 07, 2010 J. Ewbank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-good-read, religion
This was a good, short book, but a good read. The book brims with scholarship but it is extremely readable and well handled.

I enjoyed reading it and will keep it.

J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"
Apr 03, 2009 Betsy rated it liked it
Interesting comparison and contrast of the 4 gospels. Heard as book on tape so I was not able to digest comments and think more about the different topics. Would probably be useful listening to it again.
Sabrine Faragallah
Jul 12, 2011 Sabrine Faragallah rated it liked it
The book was slightly academic for my taste, I was looking for something with more depth into the spiritual meaning of the gospels.
Audrey Babkirk Wellons
Nov 25, 2008 Audrey Babkirk Wellons rated it liked it
Recommends it for: students of the bible
Shelves: religion
A good book to read to get a sense of the tone of each of the gospels and how they differ from one another thematically.
Dec 05, 2013 Rick rated it it was ok
Not recommended. A distortion of the Gospels in my opinion.
George King
Aug 19, 2013 George King rated it liked it
Interesting look at the Gospels from a Worldly perspective
Jul 07, 2008 Erika rated it really liked it
Being trained in the seminary, Willis does his own translations of select gospel passages and writes about the historical background and intended audience for each of the gospels, which were written 30-70 years after Christ's life.
Peter rated it liked it
Feb 05, 2016
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Garry Wills is an author and historian, and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. In 1993, he won a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, which describes the background and effect of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.

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