Study Guide

Three Gospels

by Reynolds Price

Three Gospels Essay - Critical Essays

Three Gospels

Noted author Reynolds Price presents in THREE GOSPELS his translations of the Gospels of Mark and John and his own narrative of the life of Jesus. The book is an attempt to tell an old story faithfully in a fresh and appealing way, and it is a witness to Price’s faith in the message and power of Jesus.

A general preface and prefaces to each gospel make a significant contribution to the book, comprising almost as many pages as the gospels. They provide historical background and information useful to understanding the translations, deal with questions of authorship, and give insights into Price’s perspectives, motivation, and qualifications for undertaking this work.

In the general preface, Price discusses his lifelong interest in the Bible, traces the history of the canon, and deals with issues of style, contrasting the appeal of Mark’s plain, abrupt style with John’s self-confident and powerful style. Texts are translated into literal English by Price from Koine Greek in which the Gospels were written. Numerous changes convey the force of the original more clearly. For example, “gospel” is translated “good news”; “sin” is translated “error”; and the “kingdom of God” is translated “reign of God.”

In each preface, Price summarizes the gospel story, with references to background information or details omitted. In the translations, verse and chapter indications are omitted, some redundancy of the King James Version is corrected, and some passages are clearer, but the frequent omission of punctuation and a very literal translation make the going rough at times.

Price’s own gospel follows Mark’s chronology, integrating selected events and discourses from other gospels and a few invented speeches. It presents the story with a clarity that will appeal to modern readers. Price’s honesty and skill as a storyteller make THREE GOSPELS a rewarding experience for both lay and scholarly Bible readers.

Sources for Further Study

America. CLXXIV, March 16, 1996, p. 18.

Booklist. XCII, February 15, 1996, p. 963.

The Christian Century. CXIII, June 5, 1996, p. 633.

The Christian Science Monitor. May 30, 1996, p. 14.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. June 30, 1996, p. 6.

The New York Times Book Review. CI, May 19, 1996, p. 12.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLIII, April 8, 1996, p. 60.

Southern Living. XXXI, June, 1996, p. 130.

The Washington Post Book World. XXVI, May 5, 1996, p. 4.

The Wilson Quarterly. XX, Summer, 1996, p. 102.