Nathan's Reviews > The Four: A Survey of the Gospels

The Four by Peter J. Leithart
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's review
Mar 24, 2011

it was amazing
Read in March, 2011

This book is a must-have. The current cover has four pictures on it: an ox, a lion, an eagle, and a man. The cover explains the whole book! Each of the Gospels presents Jesus from a different perspective (something I always knew, but wasn't sure how to demonstrate). Leithart takes the paradigm given in the Old Testament of the four faces of the cherubim, and applies it to the Gospel accounts. Matthew is a Jewish Gospel, showing how Jesus retraces the steps of Israel through the era of the kings, and is thus Deuteronomistic, highlighting how Jesus fulfills the Jewish sacrificial system (He's an ox). Mark is the kingly gospel, and shows how Jesus subdues demonic powers as the great king (He's a lion). It's very Davidic. Luke is a prophetic gospel, a gospel to the gentiles, and presents the kingdom as a portable feast. Jesus sets a table for the poor (the gentiles are the poor because they have not had God's love). It's exilic, and thus He's an eagle. John brings them all together, and shows how Jesus is God's son, the creator and author of new creation. He's a man. I have never seen such a helpful discussion on the relationship of the Gospels! Along the way he deals with textual issues (the synoptic problem, dating, authorship, etc.) and gives historical analysis largely drawing from NT Wright's work Jesus And The Victory of God.

The weakness of the book is typos! They didn't bother me that much given the prolific output of Dr. Leihart, but they will really bother you if you're a stickler for grammar. Watch those split infinitives and that subject-verb agreement. There is also one place where he gets a quote from Irenaeus wrong (but not on purpose).

Get it and read it....NOW!

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