Connecting gospels: Beyond the canonical/non-canonical divide

Francis Watson, Sarah Parkhouse

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


By the late second century, early Christian gospels had been divided into two groups by a canonical boundary that assigned normative status to four of them while consigning their competitors to the margins. The project of this volume is to find ways to reconnect these divided texts. The primary aim is not to address the question whether the canonical/non-canonical distinction reflects substantive and objectively verifiable differences between the two bodies of texts-although that issue may arise at various points. Starting from the assumption that, in spite of their differences, all early gospels express a common belief in the absolute significance of Jesus and his earthly career, the intention is to make their interconnectedness fruitful for interpretation. The approach taken is thematic and comparative: a selected theme or topic is traced across two or more gospels on either side of the canonical boundary, and the resulting convergences and divergences shed light not least on the canonical texts themselves as they are read from new and unfamiliar vantage points. The outcome is to demonstrate that early gospel literature can be regarded as a single field of study, in contrast to the overwhelming predominance of the canonical four characteristic of traditional gospels scholarship.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages282
ISBN (Electronic)9780198814801
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Canon
  • Canonical gospels
  • Comparison
  • Gospels scholarship
  • Jesus
  • Non-canonical gospels


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