In The Gospel of the Four, author Peter Boaz Jones knits together all four gospels of the Christian New Testament to provide a comprehensive account of the life and ministry of Jesus.
Jones proceeds chronologically, beginning with genealogy and accounts of Jesus’s birth, before describing Jesus’s baptism, ministry, death, and afterlife. Every few verses, Jones pauses for explication of varying lengths. Appendices chart Jesus’s miracles, parables, and timeline of events.
The explication is mainly devoted to mapping out seasons and journeys. The author’s largest concern is that nothing in the gospels be read as contradictory, so he expends most of his interpretive effort toward this end, clarifying Greek and Hebrew words where necessary. No effort is expended on exegesis, only on making events cohere; Jones is more interested in the symbolism of recurring numbers than in the content of Jesus’s teachings. While he painstakingly creates a credible timeline, Jones at no point regards his source material—even the more miraculous happenings—as anything other than reported fact. He does not consider whether duplications might indicate authorial borrowing, nor does he incorporate texts outside the authorized versions
Too often, the explication confuses more than it clarifies. To explain discrepancies, Jones sometimes decides that familiar events are actually distinct occasions; he suggests, for instance, that Jesus heals the servants of not one but two different Roman centurions, contrary to common interpretation. The continual efforts to look ahead to advise readers of coherencies leads to much unnecessary repetition. Many discussions take place far distant from the verses in which the information appears.
With its dense detail and focus on logistics rather than spiritual meaning, it’s uncertain how far this tome will go to fulfilling Jones’s purpose of making the Christian gospels accessible to skeptical youth. More likely, it’s those who already embrace the Christian Bible as literal truth who will appreciate this volume.