The Gospel gospel? | Scot McKnight
New Testament scholar Scot McKnight has been thinking on the definition of the gospel for a long time. When I worked with him in 2007-09, one of my tasks was searching the Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (often abbreviated as ANF and NPNF; oh and thanks CCEL!) for any and all references to word the gospel. I didn't use the traditional index (it wasn't good enough), but instead looked for key words and in-text references to oft-cited scriptures.
As I compiled quotes and links for Scot to review (sometimes late at night after I finished my thesis work for the day), I became confused at what I was seeing. Nearly every time the word "gospel" was used by early church writers, they seemed to mean Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John—the story of Jesus. I get this—we call these Gospels too. But that seemed like an entirely different usage of the word. Where was the reference to the good news of salvation? I wondered if I was making a mistake in my approach.
That's when I started to get it. For the church fathers, these two usages—Gospel for the first four books of the New Testament, and gospel for the "good news"—weren't different. The gospel for them was the story of the life, teaching, death, ressurection and ascension of Jesus—each and every chapter—told loud and clear. Jesus was here. Jesus was God. Jesus was King. The Gospels were the gospel!
Scot knew this. But it felt new to me.
It was like the Princess Bride… "I do not think that word means what you think it means..."
This is what Scot's new book The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited is all about.
Okay, but these were the church fathers. Couldn't they get the definition wrong? More posts soon.
ps - For theology-blog-world-nerds: Today Dave Fitch is wondering why some of the Gospel Coalition peeps haven't yet posted reviews of McKnight's book.