posted October 14, 2003

Book Examines Jesus and the Gospels

A textbook co-authored by Dr. Phillip Munoa III of the Hope College religion faculty considers Jesus and the Gospels both as a field of study and in the context of history.

Munoa co-wrote "Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction to Gospel Literature and Jesus Studies" with his former doctoral mentor, Dr. Jarl Fossum, who is retired from the faculty of the University of Michigan. Published by Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, it is based on their experience teaching the topic to students new to the field at both Hope and the University of Michigan.

"Our book goes beyond other texts by introducing beginning students to the field of gospel studies while at the same time orienting students to the accompanying field of historical Jesus studies," the authors note in their preface. "Several books have tried to do both, and those usually compressed their material and thus left out important topics that are essential to the study of gospel literature and the historical Jesus."

"Jesus and the Gospels" considers the way in which the books of the New Testament took shape based on earlier sources now lost and the editorial decisions of those who compiled them. It includes discussions of how the four Gospels are similar to and different from one another, and similarities to and differences from non-canonical works such as the "Gospel according to Thomas."The book explores the social and religious conflicts and traditions that characterized Israel at the time of Jesus, and the way that understanding such conflicts and traditions can inform understanding of the Gospels themselves. It considers Jesus in the context of the place and era, and includes an overview of past and current thinking concerning Jesus as a historical figure.

The book is divided into seven sections: an Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels; Studying the Gospels; the Canonical Gospels; the Non-Canonical Gospels; Jesus and His World; Jesus and His Life; and Jesus and His Teachings.

Munoa is an associate professor of religion at Hope, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1993. His areas of specialization include Gospel literature, Christian origins, early Christian literature, apocalyptic and pseudepigraphical literature, and early Jewish and Christian mysticism.

He completed his doctorate in Near Eastern studies at the University of Michigan in 1993 with Fossum as his dissertation advisor. During his doctoral studies he had taught a course at the university on Jesus and the Gospels, both as an instructor and as a graduate teaching assistant under Fossum's direction.

Munoa also holds a master of arts in Greek from the University of Michigan, and a master of arts in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. He completed his undergraduate degree in biblical studies at Grace Bible College in Wyoming.