Understanding The Bible   Part Six   The Synoptic Gospels And The Gospel Of John
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Understanding The Bible Part Six The Synoptic Gospels And The Gospel Of John



Part Six examines the four Gospels using the historical-critical method, as well as historical-critical problems..

Part Six examines the four Gospels using the historical-critical method, as well as historical-critical problems..



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Understanding The Bible   Part Six   The Synoptic Gospels And The Gospel Of John Understanding The Bible Part Six The Synoptic Gospels And The Gospel Of John Presentation Transcript

  • Understanding the Bible
    A Six Week Bible Study Program Using the Historical-Critical Method
    Edward J. Hahnenberg, BA, MA, MA, Ed.S
  • The Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John
    The synoptic gospels are the first three books of the canonical New Testament…Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
    Etymology: From the Greek synoptikos, which means “with the same eye.”
    These Gospels display a high degree of similarity in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence and paragraph structures. These gospels are also considered by Biblical scholars to share the same point of view.
  • differences with John’s Gospel
    The Gospel of John differs significantly in theme, content, time duration, order of events, and style, reflecting a Christian tradition different from that of the synoptics.
    The differences will be explored later, but there are some similarities with the Synoptic Gospels in that the Gospel of John draws on traditions about Jesus’ ministry, notably from Mark and Luke.
  • Chronological order of the four gospels
    Although Matthew’s Gospel is listed first in the New Testament, it was not the first written.
    The Gospel of Mark was the first written, probably between 64-67 AD.
    The Gospel of Luke was written between 80-85 AD.
    The Gospel of Matthew was written between 80-90 AD, in the latter part of that decade.
    The Gospel of John was written between 90-100 AD, although there are differing opinions among scholars.
  • The Synoptic Problem
    The synoptic problem concerns the literary relationships between and among the first three Gospels.
    The synoptic problem concerns how this interrelation came to be and the nature of the interrelationship itself. Any solution must account for the similarities and differences in content, order, and wording. Possible solutions speculate either a direct relationship (one Evangelist possessed one of the gospels) or indirect (two Evangelists having access to a shared source). The sources may have been written or oral; single or multiple.
  • Who copied Whom?
    Eighty-nine percent of Mark's content is found in Matthew, and seventy-two percent of Mark is found in Luke.
    The material in common to all three constitutes the Triple Tradition. The Triple Tradition is largely narrative but contains some sayings material. Since so much of Mark is Triple Tradition, some scholars combine it with the rest of Mark and talk about a Markan Tradition instead. In addition to the Triple Tradition, Matthew and Luke share content not found in Mark, called the Double Tradition.
  • A solution to the problem?
    There are many solutions to who copied from whom.
    It may be reasonably concluded that Mark is the primary source for Matthew and Luke.
    It is hypothesized that there was a collection of sayings of Jesus called “Q” from the German quelle, or “source.”
    There is no known writing in existence known as “Q.”
    Interestingly, in the very first verse of Luke’s Gospel, the author points out:
    “Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us … I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence…”
  • The Pope’s favored solution
    Benedict XVI favors the two-source solution, but his view is that of a theologian and this opinion is not part of the Magisterium.
    Here is a diagram of the two-source solution:
  • Two Source explanation
     The two source hypothesis posits that the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke were based on the Gospel of Mark and a lost, hypothetical sayings collection called Q or quelle.
  • The Papias Evidence - 1
    Papias of Hierapolis, Church father, saint, and martyr, was born before 70 AD and died around 155 AD.
    It is also the consensus position that the author of the Gospel of Matthew was not the apostle Matthew. Such an idea is based on the second century statements of Papias and Irenaeus. As quoted by Eusebius inHist. Eccl. 3.39, Papias states: "Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could."
  • Papias evidence - 2
    About the origins of the Gospels, Papias (as quoted by Eusebius) wrote this:
    “Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him... Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.”
  • Papias evidence - 3
    Papias describes his way of gathering information:
    “I will not hesitate to add also for you to my interpretations what I formerly learned with care from the Presbyters and have carefully stored in memory, giving assurance of its truth. For I did not take pleasure as the many do in those who speak much, but in those who teach what is true, nor in those who relate foreign precepts, but in those who relate the precepts which were given by the Lord to the faith and came down from the Truth itself. And also if any follower of the Presbyters happened to come, I would inquire for the sayings of the Presbyters, what Andrew said, or what Peter said, or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which other of the Lord's disciples…were saying. For I considered that I should not get so much advantage from matter in books as from the voice which yet lives and remains.”
  • Papias evidence - 4
    Thus Papias reports he heard things that came from an unwritten, oral tradition of the Presbyters, a "sayings" or logia tradition that had been passed from Jesus to such of the apostles and disciples as he mentions in the fragmentary quote.
    Papias also related a number of traditions that Eusebius had characterized as "some strange parables and teachings of the savior, and some other more mythical accounts," and Papias was considered  "a man of small mental capacity.”
  • Problematic texts in the New Testament
    While the canonical Gospels are considered the basis of Jesus’ teaching, there are some issues that the historical-critical scholar have examined. Let us examine just a few of the more notable.
    The geneology lists of Jesus.
    The Bethlehem registration of Mary and Joseph.
    The Length of Jesus’ ministry.
    The Magnificat of Mary.
    The stories of the feeding of the thousands.
    The cleansing of the Temple.
    The accounts of the Resurrection.
  • The Geneology lists
    There are two lists of Jesus’ geneology.
    There are two records in the Bible of the genealogy of Jesus. One is in Matthew, chapter 1, the other is in the Luke, chapter 3. Matthew's account traces the line of descent from Abraham to Jesus, while Luke's account follows the ancestry from Adam to Jesus. Quite a few differences and discrepancy exist between the two records. Most startling is that from King David to Jesus the lineages are entirely different.
  • Matthew’s list
    Matthew's genealogy is condensed and divided into three groups of 14, representing a movement through three time periods. The first group lists the patriarchs, the second names the kings, and the third contains private citizens. The intent was not to give a strict record, but rather, present the historical progression. It begins by highlighting the family origin, then the rise to power through the Davidic throne, and eventually the decline from royalty to the humble birth of the promised Messiah.
  • Luke’s List
    Luke's account is unusual in that is begins with Jesus and progresses backward through history, rather than following the order of chronological succession. Some suggest that Luke's purpose in presenting a "regression" was to magnify attention on Jesus.
    Though nearly identical from Abraham to David, the two accounts are entirely different from David to Jesus. After David, only the names of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel appear on both lists.
  • Historical-Critical view - 1
    Throughout the ages, scholars have pondered and argued over the reasons for the conflicting genealogies of Matthew and Luke.
    One of the most widely held theories suggests that Matthew's account follows the lineage of Joseph, while Luke's genealogy is that of Mary.
    Matthew’s list is not absolutely historical, since it is viewed as a construct which points to the need to understand the connection of the Old Testament to Jesus.
  • Historical-Critical view - 2
    There are more differences than similarities between Luke’s list and Matthew’s.
    Luke’s list has 36 names completely unknown to Matthew’s and to the Old Testament.
    The sacred biblical number “7” …from Joseph to God are seven X eleven names, or “77” – a doubling of “7”, the symbolic number for perfection.
    Again, scholars point to the idea of a “construct,” or quasi-historical fabrication.
  • Historical Critical View - 3
    It might serve some purpose to list the ancestors that each gospel writer gives. However, if we assume that the lists are truly historical, being based on Old Testament information, we have seen several instances of such history that turn out to be inaccurate.
    The discrepancies between the two lists are obvious to the historical-critical scholar. Some have suggested that the lists are simply fabrications constructed from known genealogical relationships and improvised additions. There has been no definitive confirmation of the historical accuracy of either list.
  • Ancestry issues - 1
    Luke records in chapter 2 that Caesar's decree for a world-wide census required that Joseph was to be enrolled in the city of David called Bethlehem, "because he was of the house and family of David." According to 1 Samuel 17: 12, David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah; so, according to scripture, David's birthplace was Bethlehem.
  • Ancestry issues – 2
    The question anyone might raise would be: How many descendants of David were there at the time of Christ's birth? Certainly it is not unreasonable that after a millennium there would have been thousands (some have suggested 1,000,000!) who descended from David, and would have to have gone to Bethlehem to register. "No room in the inn," would have been an understatement!
  • Ancestry issues - 3
    Yet, the practical problem is this: Who can trace his / her lineage back more than four of five generations today, even with written birth or baptismal records? I have tried to find lineage for my surname's family, even going back to the town in Germany where my great-great grandfather was married early in the 1800s, only to find that the baptismal record of Jacob Hahnenberg had been destroyed in a fire during WWII. Failing that, I only have the oral tradition of stories, not about my great-great grandfather or my great grandfather, but only about my grandfather, told to me by my father from his perspective.
  • Ancestry issues - 4
    However, the gospels are, to the person of Christian faith, divinely inspired. So, whether the genealogies are accurately historical or constructs based on Old Testament references, with names added or omitted to fill a mathematical model reflecting a rabbinical technique called gematria, faith dictates that Jesus descended from David, (taking on his human nature from Mary), as prophesied in Isaiah 9: 5-6:
    For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince oj Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful. From David's throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains By judgment and justice. both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this! (NAB: Isaiah 9: 5-6)
  • Focus of the Gospels - 1
    There apparently were many written accounts, which were not gospels nor apocryphal works, which were available to the gospel writers. Interestingly, Paul was the first to record anything in the New Testament in 1 Thessalonians in 5 IAD.
    In addition to diverse accounts, both oral and written which were available to the gospel writers, including the hypothetical "Q" (quelle - source) material which is thought to have existed, when they attempted to recount the extraordinary life of Jesus Christ, they chose to focus on a thematic design. Each writer had a purpose in mind when they were written.
  • Focus of Mark and Matthew
    Matthew is generally thought of as having been written to a Jewish audience that is at least familiar with Christianity, while Mark is more for Gentiles (non-Jews).
    There is an unmistakable sense of urgency in the two Gospels with many events crammed into one or two days.
    According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus cleansed the temple during the final week leading up to His death on the cross. John’s Gospel begins with the cleansing.
  • Focus of Luke
    Luke develops the picture of Jesus' identity and mission in the powerful scene of the keynote address in Nazareth (4:14-30). Scripture scholars help us to appreciate Luke's creativity as artist and as theologian.
    Jesus, the anointed one (the Messiah, the Christ), teaches and heals and proclaims the presence of God's Reign. Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promises for the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned.
  • Focus of John
    John is by far the most distinct and his writing is to an audience in need of more theological teaching. However, there is a uniqueness in John's main message...that Jesus is God. The synoptics do not even mention this essential teaching.
    In John 1: 1-5, we see him begin this theme quite directly: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    In John we find the theological discourse on the Eucharist (c. 6) and the intimate conversations of Jesus at the Last Supper (chs. 14-17).
  • The length of Jesus’ ministry
    The traditional view is that Jesus’ public ministry lasted three years, largely due to John’s chronology.
    St. Iranaeus suggests 15 years.
    Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Philastrius, Hilarion, and other patristic writers allow only one year.
    Current thinking among scholars is that the period was from one to four years.
  • The Magnificat of Mary
    Luke 1:46-55
    1 Samuel 2:3-8
    My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior. 48 For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 49 The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. 51 He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. 52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. 53 The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, 55 according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
    My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength. 5 The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil. The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes. 6 "The LORD puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again. 7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts. 8 He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, To seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage
  • The feeding of the Thousands
    Two miracles or one?
    Settings and numbers are different.
    The first miracle, "The Feeding of the 5000" is the only miracle (apart from the resurrection) which is present in all four canonical Gospels (Matthew 14:13–21,Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:5-15.[1] This miracle is also known as the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.
    The second miracle, "The Feeding of the 4000" is reported by Mark 8:1-9 and Matthew 15:32-39 but not by Luke or John. This miracle is also known as themiracle of the seven loaves and fishes.
  • Cleansing of the Temple
    One of the discrepancies pertaining to chronology…whether or not Jesus cleansed the temple early in His ministry, or near the end. According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus cleansed the temple during the final week leading up to His death on the cross (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). John, however, places his record of the temple cleansing in chapter 2 of his gospel account, between Jesus’ first miracle (2:1-12) and His conversation with Nicodemus (3:1-21). How should John’s gospel account be understood in light of the other three writers placing the event near the end of Jesus’ ministry? “Did Jesus enter the temple and drive out the money changers early in His ministry, or near the end?”
    Most often the explanation heard regarding this difficulty is that there was only one temple cleansing—near the end of Jesus’ life—and John’s placement of this event at an earlier time is the result of his “theological,” rather than “chronological,” approach to writing his account of the life and teachings of Jesus.
    Who is to say that Jesus could not have cleansed the temple of money-hungry, hypocritical Jews on two separate occasions—once earlier in His ministry, and again near the end of His life as He entered Jerusalem for the last time?
    Rationale: Establishing his authority as God in the beginning of his ministry in John are seen by some as fitting the message of John’s gospel.
  • Differing accounts of the REsurrection
     The Gospel of Matthew states that after an earthquake an angel appeared near the tomb of Jesus and announced his resurrection to Mary Magdelene and "another Mary" who had arrived to anoint the body.[Matthew 28:1-10] According to Luke there were two angels.[Luke 24:4] According to Mark there was a youth dressed in white.[Mark 16:5] The last section of Mark, which is considered a later addition by most biblical scholars states that on the morning of his resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdelene.[Mark 16:9] John states that when Mary looked into the tomb, two angels asked her why she was crying; and as she turned round she initially failed to recognize Jesus until he spoke her name.[John 20:11-18]
  • Resolution of the problem
    The Resurrection accounts in the Gospels are often criticized for being contradictory, but many of the alleged contradictions are no more than we would expect from any four different accounts of an event several decades after the fact. They include things such as who precisely made up the group of women who went to the tomb, whether there was one angel or two, and so on.
    It makes sense that the men who wrote the accounts might recall different details, even seemingly conflicting details, in their retelling of the event. What does not make sense is to say that the Resurrection obviously did not occur, and the same goes with all the other alleged contradictions.
  • Numeric symbolism in the Gospels
    Seven (7) is used over four hundred times. It symbolizes perfection, wholeness, and completeness. Why?
    Three (3) is used over five hundred times. Why?
    Twelve (12) has both Old Testament and New Testament meanings. What are they?
    Six (6) has a meaning of being incomplete. Give an example.
    1000 symbolizes an infinite amount. Example?
  • Inerrancy of the Bible
    If the Bible is God’s word, can there be any mistakes in it? Is it inerrant, or free of error?
    Has this course made you more (or less) convinced that the Bible is God’s revealed word?
    Are there any dangers to the historical-critical method of interpreting the Bible?
    Do you feel comfortable if asked about various stories in the Bible?
    How should your children be taught about the stories in the Bible?
  • Conclusion - 1
    There are a host of delicate biblical discussions that need scientific study.
    In the past, Church authorities have discouraged such discussions for fear of upsetting the faithful.
    From the Jerome Biblical Commentary 71: 90-92…
    “A book review in a biblical journal by a competent scholar may be more effective in eradicating nonsense than a warning….”
  • Conclusion – 2
    From the 1993 Pontifical Biblical Commission:
    The historical-critical method is the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of ancient texts. Holy Scripture, inasmuch as it is the "word of God in human language," has been composed by human authors in all its various parts and in all the sources that lie behind them. Because of this, its proper understanding not only admits the use of this method but actually requires it.
  • Conclusion – 3 – Dei Verbum
    11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, (3) they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted.
  • Conclusion – 4 – Dei Verbum
    Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).
  • Conclusion – 5 – Dei Verbum
    12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.
    To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (8)
  • Conclusion – 6 – Dei Verbum
    But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature.
  • Books by Edward J. Hahnenberg
    You can order the following books by Edward J. Hahnenberg at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and many other online bookstores:
    The Children of the Apostles, ISBN 1594675570
    The Psalms of God’s Tenderness: Commentaries on Divine Intimacy, ISBN 1420821253 
    Bible Maker: Jerome - The Fascinating Story of the Author of the Latin Vulgate; ISBN 1420825798 
    Table Talk with Martin Luther : A Modern Catholic's Conversations with the Founder of Protestantism, ISBN 1420841408
    The Evolution of Belief in the Afterlife in the Old Testament, ISBN 1595940162 
    The Priesthood of the Faithful: A Theology of Hope for the Church, ISBN 1425908837
    Vatican III, ISBN 1425915108
    God’s Unusual Saints, ISBN 1425938213
    Understanding the Bible: A Layman’s Guide to the Historical-Critical Method, ISBN 978-1-59594-267-8
    Purgatory: An Historical and Contemporary Analysis, ISBN 978-1-59594-235-7
    Heaven: A Christian Perspective, ISBN 978-1-59594-306-4
  • The Children of the ApostlesThe Psalms of God’s Tenderness
    The Children of the Apostles
    Psalms of God’s Tenderness
    There has always been in Christianity an interest in the unknown details of Christ’s life and of the lives of people who were close to him. Children of the Apostles provides a realistic view into the lives of those close to the Twelve who surely lived, but of whom we know next to nothing. Jewish practice of the time of Christ holds that most of the Twelve were probably married and had families. Scripture points out that the wives of the Twelve most likely accompanied and lived with them throughout their lives (1Corinthians 9:5).
    The Psalms of God's Tenderness provides commentaries on verses from seventeen psalms, drawn from philosophers, saints, and the author's life experience. The stories are uplifting, needed in today's world of fear. The message? God loves each of us intensely. It's a book you can pick up and turn to any page . . . and you won't want to put down.
  • Bible Maker: JeromeTable Talk with Martin Luther
    Bible Maker: Jerome
    Table Talk with Martin Luther
    Bible Maker: Jerome is a biography of the translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible. This fourth century saint was a bridge between the Christian Church of the East and the West, serving the West as a papal secretary and monastic pioneer, but spending most of his adult life in Bethlehem in the East as a biblical exegete, translator, and monk. Bible Maker: Jerome uses the vast corpus of writings of this Doctor of the Church as the framework for a fresh look at this outspoken apologist and biblical scholar. Christianity’s ascendancy in Rome, the Arian heresy, the first two general church councils at Nicea and Constantiople. . . all were influential in Jerome’s controversial life. Bible Maker: Jerome is fascinating Church history brought to life.
    Table Talk with Martin Luther is based on the views of the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther, which have largely been drawn from his own informal conversations written down in the well-known Tischerat . . . and the views of a modern twenty-first century Catholic teacher and author. Ecumenical in nature, the book uses a creative format of two weeks of intergenerational face-to-face discussions on a variety of topics, from the comparisons and contrasts between centuries separated by five hundred years, to the influences of the culture on a sixteenth century theological giant compared to the influences affecting this twenty-first century author.
  • The Evolution of Belief in the Afterlife in the OTVatican III
    The Evolution of Belief in the Afterlife in the Old Testament
    Vatican III
    Imagine that you were living as a Jew seven or eight hundred years before Christ. What were your prospects after you died? Several Old Testament writings suggest that you would spend forever in Sheol, a dismal place of shadows. The Evolution of Belief in the Afterlife in the Old Testament makes the case that there was hope in Psalms and other OT writings of an eternal existence with Yahweh in a place of peace and joy. This carefully researched work challenges traditional scriptural scholarship.
    Vatican III . . . a futuristic thriller set in 2050. Follow the proceedings of the next council, whose decrees will offer surprising insights into the Church of the future. Follow Vatican astronomer Dr. Snowdon as he tries to unravel the novel's exciting story of intrigue which reaches to the highest levels of the Catholic Church. The novel gives insights into the daily behind-the-scenes theological maneuvering, dialogue, and debate by bishops and their theologian periti on issues to be found on the agenda of this church council of the future. It is set in apocalyptic times as world events come together in a scenario you will never forget.
  • God’s Unusual SaintsUnderstanding the Bible: A Layman’s guide to the Historical-critical Method
    God’s Unusual Saints
    Understanding the Bible: A Layman’s guide to the Historical-critical Method
    God's Unusual Saints examines the lives of several unique saints in the Catholic Church. Recognized as living heroically holy lives by the Church's early tradition, or canonized by Popes in later times, these men and women displayed qualities that reflect the creative call of God to unusual lives of sanctity.
    Using the historical-critical method in understanding the Bible, the author addresses several issues that have often puzzled Christians ... for example, how should believers, without sacrificing faith in God’s Word, understand the stories of the Old Testament which seem to be far-fetched and which contain many historical inaccuracies. Using the results of contemporary research, the book attempts to separate historical evidence from the various forms of non-historical writing used by the authors of the OT. The author also examines several instances in the New Testament in which the sacred authors leave the reader to struggle with anomalies, rearrangement of events in the life of Christ, and parallel, but different, accounts of gospel events.
  • Understanding the Bible: A Layman’s guide to the Historical-critical Method
    Using the historical-critical method in understanding the Bible, the author addresses several issues that have often puzzled Christians ... for example, how should believers, without sacrificing faith in God’s Word, understand the stories of the Old Testament which seem to be far-fetched and which contain many historical inaccuracies. Using the results of contemporary research, the book attempts to separate historical evidence from the various forms of non-historical writing used by the authors of the OT. The author also examines several instances in the New Testament in which the sacred authors leave the reader to struggle with anomalies, rearrangement of events in the life of Christ, and parallel, but different, accounts of gospel events.
  • Purgatory: An historical and contemporary analysis
    A fresh look by the author at the mystery of Purgatory...dogma for Catholics, but rejected by Protestants. The work examines early writings by the Church Fathers, particularly those of St. Augustine whose influence was extremely important in shaping Church dogma almost a thousand years after his death. Although "purgatorium" was not used until the 12th century, the scandals of indulgence selling, which led to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, are examined. Despite the proclamation of Purgatory as dogma by the Catholic Church in the Councils of Florence and Trent, Purgatory was rejected by the reformers. Private revelations of Purgatory and the updating of indulgences by Paul VI in 1967 and current thinking of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are featured. The book contains abundant primary source materials.
  • Heaven: A Christian Perspective
    Heaven: A Christian Perspective examines what Christians have believed over the centuries about this dogma of all major Christian denominations. It examines the New Testament Scriptures, especially the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, as well as those of St. Paul in his epistles. The visions of Heaven in the Book of Revelation, with its highly symbolic meanings, are also investigated. The early Creeds of the Church as well as the writings of the Church Fathers are analyzed. A section is devoted to NDEs (Near-Death Experiences), citing the view of scientists, as well as giving testimonies of those who claim to have seen a glimpse of the afterlife. Another chapter cites visions of Heaven by mystics and saints. Finally, a chapter on the various views of the "heaven" of major world religions other than Christianity gives the reader an overview of the similarities and differences between beliefs of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews.