Preaching the Passion: Interpreting the Evangelists


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Book Details

Format: Paperback (154 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-78959-240-5

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Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are the heart and foundation of Christian faith and the gospel accounts give us an incredible window into those events. Beginning with Mark, the first account to be written, these six series of sermons interpret the four Gospel narratives of Jesus’ passion and death. Gregory Dunstan believes that we hear the gospel best in the individual tellings of the evangelists, finding truth within the divergences of their accounts. He discourages us from seeking our own “harmonization” to smooth out the differences, and even from wading too deeply into the work of scholars to establish a historical core behind their divergences. The four Gospels are the authenticated “witnesses” to Jesus’ death and resurrection. The differences between them give rise to a range of legitimate interpretations of Jesus’ death. These sermons explore and celebrate that richness of meaning and understanding.

Taking account of critical scholarship, but written in accessible language, this is an exploration of the foundation of Christian faith for any who would like to know more.

This must be applauded overall as a gem of a book. Perhaps the most pertinent keys to appreciating its message are simply that it is written by a diligent priest who is a faithful disciple and who in a previous life worked as a landscape architect. Hence, there is a pastor here – just read the warmth of the dedication and listen to him speaking with his people after they buried loved ones (p.53) or as they contemplate the prospect of further decline in their parish (p.75). There is a Nathaniel here – like the Christ-follower of old the author is one in whom there is ‘no deceit’ (p.129). And, perhaps most poignantly of all, there is a gardener here – arguably the most captivating aspects of the work derive from those moments when Dunstan invokes his own expertise such as with the acanthus thorns (p.18), or the passionate voice that speaks of what a garden really ought to mean.

Preaching the Passion reads well, it offers challenge, it is full of hope, it resounds with confidence, and it is Christ-honouring.

From a review by Maurice Elliott in Search, the journal of the Church of Ireland

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