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The Living Text of the Gospels


  • Page extent: 242 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.46 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 226/.0486
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: BS2555.2 .P274 1997
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Bible.--Gospels--Criticism, Textual

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521590624 | ISBN-10: 0521590620)

DOI: 10.2277/0521590620

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published August 1997

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 02:10 GMT, 30 November 2015)


This book represents an important departure in Gospel studies and textual criticism. David Parker offers a different way of reading the Gospels which treats seriously the fact that they first existed as manuscripts. Through an analysis of the different forms of a number of key passages, he demonstrates that the Gospels cannot be properly understood as texts without taking into consideration their physical existence as manuscripts, printed books and electronic text. In conclusion, he argues that the search for an original text of the Gospels overlooks the way in which the early church passed down its traditions. This book challenges many of the assumptions of New Testament scholarship. But, at the same time, it does not assume any prior knowledge of the discipline, and can therefore be used as a unique alternative to traditional primers of New Testament textual criticism.

• The first book to offer a new way of reading the Gospels which treats seriously the fact that they first existed as manuscripts • Assumes no prior knowledge of the subject and therefore can be used as a primer as well as being of interest to experts • Presents the evidence in an innovative and creative way


Abbreviations; Preface; 1. The theory; 2. The materials; 3. The practice; 4. As our Saviour taught us ... the Lord's Prayer; 5. The sayings on marriage and divorce; 6. The story of the woman taken in adultery; 7. Secrets and hypotheses; 8. The endings of Mark's Gospel; 9. The last chapters of Luke; 10. The development and transmission of the Fourth Gospel; 11. From codex to disk; 12. The living text; Indexes.


'This is an important and interesting book … should serve as a stimulating and readable textbook.' Evangelical Quarterly

'This is an important, thought-provoking and challenging book. If any readers begin the book with the foolish prejudice that textual criticism is irrelevant or unimportant, they will not hold such a view after having digested it.' J. K. Elliott

'The Living Text of the Gospels by D. C. Parker is an admirable guide. It is full of vivid detail about the history of the making of copies of the Gospels and about individual manuscripts. This is a fine book, skilfully managing to give quite complex, skilfully managing to give quite complex examples without using Greek, so widening its appeal, and achieving an attractive limpidity of argument. It deserves an extensive readership.' The Times Literary Supplement

'This book is marvellous and can, should, be studied by anyone interested in trying to read the New Testament today.' Religion and Theology

'This is an authoritative overview by an expert of a sometimes neglected field of study. It is well written, needs no knowledge of Greek, and will be valued by all who enjoy the detail of a carefully conducted argument.' Church Times

'This book should be required reading on any course of textual scholarship, or for any person undertaking an edition of any complexity. It is among the most radical and innovative books on textual scholarship published in the last decades.' Peter Robinson, Texts

'… opens up excitingly fresh ways of understanding the Gospels, demolo=ishes many false views of the Bible, reveals what we actually possess in scripture, and relates a study of the text to modern ethical issues as well as to more specialized problems such as the relations between the Synoptic Gospels.' The Expository Times

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