11.16.2004

the Diatessaron was a gospel that was put together by a fellow named Tatian that was widely circulated in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Tatian put together the four gospels into one to create unity and provide us with one gospel. it was very seriously considered being canonized, but it was not. why not? why was it so important to have four different gospels? if this would have been an issue during the Enlightenment, would they have put four gospels in or put in Tatian's gospel? in today's postmodern project would we put in four gospels or would we put in Tatian's one gospel? this is not the only tension that we have in the writing and canonization of the gospels. the gospels were written a few hundred years before the councils at Nicea and Chalcedon which developed a Christology that have endured and been orthodox since that time. the tension is that the gospels do not have any clue of Jesus' divinity which was the biggest issue raised in the councils. what does this mean in the reading of the gospels that are in our canon?

i am thankful that our canon was formed prior to the enlightenment project because i fear that reductionism and scientific reason would have put Tatian's gospel (or something similar) in the canon and we would not have four different voices. in my mind this means, based on God's timing, that it is important to have four different voices, which should be a glimmer of hope for those of us that are comfortable with a postmodern worldview. i'm also thankful that, based on God's timing, that our canon was not left up to postmodernists too. if it were left up to us, we would probably have a lot more than four gospels.

so how do we read the gospels? should we read the gospels with our Nicene and Chalcedonian glasses on? or should we take those glasses off when we read them? this is a tough question for me because i've been taught for so long that historical criticism is of utmost importance in reading the biblical texts. however i'm beginning to read more about a new kind of reading of texts. paul ricoeur and a.k.m. adam are two people that are influencing my understanding of how to read texts. it seems to me that we need a post-historical criticism reading of the gospels and the scriptures as a whole.

two questions: what do you think of this? and what would a new reading look like? i'm extremely busy, but i hope to write more about this soon.

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