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The Four Gospels on Sunday

The New Testament and the Reform of Christian Worship

by Gordon W. Lathrop

Publication Year: 2011

Premier liturgical theologian Gordon Lathrop argues that far too often liturgy, preaching, and liturgical theology are informed by naïve and outdated exegesis. In another fully original and deeply reflective work, Lathrop partners with newer biblical studies to see the Gospels anew. He treats the Gospels as early witnesses to the meaning of Christian assembly and forces in the shaping and reshaping of liturgy.

Lathrop first probes each Gospel historically and exegetically to discern what it tells us about early Christian worship and Christians' relationship to the Risen One. Then Lathrop treats the Gospels together to draw out more of their contemporary importance, especially ways in which they can enrich our reflection about the assembly itself, ministry, baptism, the use of scripture in liturgy, and unity within ecumenical diversity.

Taking seriously the origins of the New Testament, as we understand them today, Lathrop demonstrates that the Gospels can remain a true catalyst for liturgical theology and liturgical renewal, as well as an inspiring link to the faith and convictions of the earliest followers of the Christian way.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

The four canonical Gospels, beginning with Mark, can be understood as lively critical proposals, documents of reform, addressed to ancient Christian assemblies. The books, of course, were most directly about Jesus. Written in the last thirty or so years of the first century of our era or the first decade of the second century, ...

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pp. xvii-xx

The Beasts hold this book together. Or they do so, particularly, as they bring their fierce witness to the Lamb in the center. Around the Lamb, in one important image of classic Christian iconography, amidst all the worshiping elders and saints, there is a Lion, an Ox, a Human Being, and an Eagle, each holding or representing its own book. ...

Part One. The Four Beasts: The Gospels and Early Christian Worship

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1. Beginnings: Assemblies, “Gospel,” Gospels

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pp. 3-38

In most of the Christian assemblies meeting around the world today, a reading from one of the four Gospels—from Matthew or Mark or Luke or John— occupies a central moment in the worship service of every Sunday. This reading is a kind of pillar of the meeting, a reliably recurring ritual, a principal locus for meaning. ...

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2. The Gospels and Meal Meetings

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pp. 39-60

First of all, we need to note that when we are discussing early Christianity, the words liturgy and worship may be anachronistic and misleading. The Christian community had meetings, and the evidence is that these meetings were frequently for the sake of a shared meal. ...

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3. Mark in Detail: “There You Will See Him”

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pp. 61-92

But let us turn explicitly to Mark, to the book that is the First Gospel, at least as far as we know. We have already begun to reflect here on the relationship between Mark and paleo-Christian meetings. I have argued that especially this First Gospel demonstrates the mutual coherence between Gospel book and Christian assembly. ...

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4. Matthew and Luke in Detail: Word and Meal in the Churches

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pp. 93-124

The writers of the Gospel books “According to Matthew” and “According to Luke” knew and used Mark. That much is clear. Their books largely follow the outline established first in Mark. In Matthew and Luke, as in Mark, the narrative of the ministry of Jesus begins with his baptism, continues with stories located throughout greater Galilee, ...

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5. John in Detail: Signs and Discourses on Sunday

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pp. 125-150

In the very late first century C.E.—or, more likely, in the first decade or so of the second century—the Gospel we call “According to John” was written. Perhaps, as some scholars say also of the earlier Gospels, it was intended for a single community, as the Gospel book for that community. ...

Part Two. The Beasts on Our Sundays: Assembly according to the Gospel

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6. Word, Sacrament, and Assembly according to the Gospel

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pp. 153-176

Why does this inquiry about the coherence of the four Gospels with ancient Christian assemblies matter so much? What are the intentions of such a study? Much of our response to these questions has already been evident in the foregoing chapters themselves. The italicized questions at the end of each of these chapters have woven current concerns into our inquiry ...

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7. Leadership according to the Gospel

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pp. 177-190

This study has reminded us that the ancient Christian books that make up the New Testament canon were not, at origin, organizational books. They were not written as a sort of initial constitution for a society only beginning to meet. Rather, they are important, diverse sources for and records of an ongoing critique at various places in the early progress of a Christian movement ...

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8. The Reforming Gospels: Renewing the Biblical-Liturgical Movement

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pp. 191-210

In the middle of the twentieth century, Louis Bouyer, a French Roman Catholic scholar who had once been a Lutheran pastor, argued that the Roman Catholic liturgical movement of that same century had been much strengthened when it was joined with the similarly vigorous and similarly unfolding biblical movement.1 ...

Index of Biblical Texts

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pp. 211-215

Index of Names and Subjects

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pp. 216-220

E-ISBN-13: 9781451408928
E-ISBN-10: 1451408927
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800698522
Print-ISBN-10: 0800698525

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2011