A gospel describes the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, purportedly recorded by witnesses of the time. No extant written gospel dates from a time at which any such witness might still have been alive, thus tradition holds that the gospels were orally transmitted until committed to paper.
The three "Synoptic Gospels" -- Matthew, Mark, and Luke -- are largely in accord with each other and told from similar viewpoints. The remaining gospel, that of John, is also canonical but differs in substance from the other three. Nearly all branches of Christianity consider all other ancient gospels, including those of Thomas, James, Mary, as well as numerous others, as apocryphal.
Stephen C. Barton (editor). The Cambridge Companion to the Gospels. Cambridge University Press. 2006. 300pp.
Richard Bauckham. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. William B. Eerdmans Publishing. 2006. 538pp.
David Alan Black. Why Four Gospels? The Historical Origins of the Gospels. Kregel Publications. 2001. 118pp.
Richard A. Burridge. What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. Cambridge University Press. 1995. 306pp.
Ron Cameron (editor). The Other Gospels: Non-Canonical Gospel Texts. Westminster John Knox Press. 1982. 191pp.
Robin Griffith-Jones. The Four Witnesses: The Rebel, the Rabbi, the Chronicler, and the Mystic. HarperCollins. 2001. 416pp.
Helmut Koester. Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development. Continuum International Publishing Group. 1992. 484pp.
David McCracken. The Scandal of the Gospels: Jesus, Story, and Offense. Oxford University Press. 1994. 216pp.
Pheme Perkins. Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels. William B. Eerdmans Publishing. 2007. 312pp.
Ronald Allen Piper. The Gospel Behind the Gospels: Current Studies on Q. E. J. Brill. 1995. 411pp.
Donald Wayne Riddle. The Gospels: Their Origin and Growth. University of Chicago Press. 1939. 304pp.
Mark D. Roberts. Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Good News Publishers. 2007. 202pp.
Graham Stanton. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press. 2002. 324pp.
Charles H. Talbert. What is a Gospel? The Genre of the Canonical Gospels. Mercer University Press. 1986. 160pp.
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