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RELIGIOUS STUDIES
Asked by Liam

How was Jesus characterized differently in each of the four gospels (Mark, John, Matthew, Luke)? Did each of the four gospels characterize him differently?

The principle thing to remember is that the Gospel were written in different contexts. The intended audience was different as well as the circumstances and the year in which they were written. These factors have an impact on the way Jesus is portrayed by the authors and the different emphases which is given to different elements of Jesus’ message. Matthew (written between 70-80 AD) is believed to be written for a Jewish audience and therefore emphasises the elements of Jesus’ life and message which demonstrate that he fulfils the expectations of the Jewish people for a Messiah. Mark (possibly as early as 62 AD) is the shortest Gospel and was written during a time of very dangerous persecution of the Christian community. Mark explains Jewish customs and so is therefore probably written for an audience that includes non-Jews (called Gentiles). The Gospel of Mark is very focussed on the message of Jesus to repent, convert and be saved. Luke (possibly written around 62-63 AD) was written by a Gentile author and therefore he emphasises the element of Jesus’ message which speaks of Jesus as a Messiah for all people and not only for the Jews. John (written around 85 AD) was written with a particular aim of denying a false teaching which was circulating at the time which denied that Jesus was God. John emphasis Jesus’ divinity in his Gospel and provides more theological understanding of the nature of Jesus and his relationship to his followers.

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Michael Collis
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