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Jesus according to Scripture, 2nd Edition

Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels

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Updated Edition of a Bestselling Study of Jesus and the Gospels

In this work Darrell Bock, a leading evangelical New Testament scholar who speaks and teaches around the world, and Benjamin Simpson show that a coherent portrait of Jesus emerges from the four Gospels when they are taken seriously as historical documents. When read together, the Gospels provide a clear picture of Jesus and his unique claims to authority. This book surveys all the Gospel units and relates them to their parallel passages, showing how the literary and canonical relationships work. Offering up-to-date interaction with the latest discussions about Jesus, the second edition has been substantially revised and updated throughout and includes three new chapters on how we got the Gospels.


Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Part 1: The Four Gospels: Distinctive Voices and How We Got Them
1. Witnessing the Gospel
2. Remembering the Gospel
3. Retelling the Gospel
4. Overviews of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Part 2: Jesus according to the Synoptists
5. The Birth and Childhood of Jesus: The Hope of Promise (Matt. 1-2; Luke 1-2)
6. The Backdrop to Jesus's Ministry: John the Baptist, Jesus's Baptism and Temptations (Matt. 3:1-4:11; Mark 1:1-13; Luke 3:1-4:13)
7. The Initial Portrait of Jesus's Galilean Ministry: Teaching, Healing, and Controversy (Matt. 4:12-25; Mark 1:14-3:19a; Luke 4:14-6:16)
8. Jesus's Teaching on Relating to God and Others: The Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain (Matt. 5:1-7:29; Luke 6:20-49)
9. More Galilean Ministry: Miracles, Mission to the Outcasts, and Discipleship in the Face of Opposition (Matt. 8:1-12:50; Mark 3:19b-35; Luke 7:1-8:3)
10. From Kingdom Teaching to Confession: How the Disciples Began to Understand Jesus (Matt. 13:1-16:12; Mark 4:1-8:26; Luke 8:4-9:17)
11. Confession and Prediction: The New Reality, Part 1 (Matt. 16:13-18:35; Mark 8:27-9:50; Luke 9:18-50)
12. Toward Jerusalem: The New Reality, Part 2 (Luke 9:51-18:14)
13. Continuing toward Jerusalem: Ministry in Judea and Final Lessons (Matt. 19:1-21:9; Mark 10:1-11:10; Luke 18:15-19:44)
14. The Passion Week: Controversy, Prediction of Judgment and Return, Trial, Death, and Resurrection (Matt. 21:10-28:20; Mark 11:11-16:8; Luke 19:45-24:53)
Part 3: Jesus according to John
15. Introducing Jesus in John's Gospel: The Word Incarnate and the First Witnesses--John the Baptist and the Disciples (John 1)
16. The Book of Signs: Before the Hour (John 2-12)
17. The Book of Glory: The Farewell Discourse and the Johannine Passion Account--The Hour Has Come (John 13-21)


"I am pleased that a second edition of Bock's Jesus according to Scripture is now available. This book offers a needed corrective to the quirky portraits of Jesus that have appeared in recent years. As the title implies, Bock and Simpson present Jesus in the light of what the Gospels actually say. Readers will especially appreciate the accessible layout."

Craig A. Evans, John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins, Houston Baptist University

"The four Gospels are a vast forest in which even the well-initiated can lose their way, especially among the thickets of burgeoning scholarship. We should all be grateful not just for a big handy map like this but also for the experienced trail guides putting it into our hands."

Nicholas Perrin, president, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Two centuries of scholarly inquiry have demonstrated that the 'canonical Jesus' is the closest we will ever get to the 'real Jesus.' Jesus according to Scripture presents a portrait of this canonical Jesus through a detailed engagement with the Gospel material. Assuming a historically and theologically complementary relationship among the diverse and complex materials in the four Gospels, Bock and Simpson have with the second edition strengthened this important resource for assessing the meaning of Jesus of Nazareth for the twenty-first-century church."

Joel Willitts, professor of biblical and theological studies, North Park University

"That there are four canonical Gospels has always presented challenges for studying the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. Although reading each Gospel on its own terms is an essential step, and commentaries on the Gospels abound, all four need to be read together for the full picture of Jesus they provide. Jesus according to Scripture offers something of undeniable value: a comprehensive investigation of the portrayal of Jesus in the four Gospels informed by the best historical Jesus research, taking careful note of similarities and differences among the four accounts. The book represents a major resource for restoring the full portrait of Jesus from the Gospels."

Brian Rosner, principal, Ridley College

Praise for the First Edition

"Darrell Bock is a well-known expert in the Gospels, and in Jesus according to Scripture he provides a detailed analysis of the portrait of Jesus from each Gospel as well as a theological synthesis of Jesus' message and import as the Gospels portray him. Here we have a much more fulsome and helpful portrait of Jesus than is offered in many recent treatments of the historical Jesus. Highly recommended."

Ben Witherington III, Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary; emeritus professor, St. Andrews University

"After writing three entire commentaries on Luke, Darrell Bock naturally turns his attention to all four Gospels. Neither a contribution to historical-Jesus research nor a conventional textbook on the Gospels, this is a common-sense yet academically informed commentary--first on a synopsis of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and then on John. Laypersons, theological students, and pastors needing a review course will greatly benefit from it. In many ways, Jesus according to Scripture is a successor to Dwight Pentecost's Words and Works of Jesus, and a worthy one indeed!"

Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Seminary

"This book is a wonderful illustration of the value of canonical criticism. The author's great knowledge of historical criticism is here employed in a study that takes the final form of the biblical texts as a literary unity. Bock's work has a wonderful balance between a respect for the uniqueness of each Gospel and an appreciation of the overall unity in the portrait of Jesus provided for the church."

C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University

"This book drives students to the texts of the four canonical Gospels; defends their historical reliability; interpretively distinguishes the Synoptics from John in the main, but somewhat from each other as well; and harmonizes all of them as much as possible. Teachers of courses on the life of Jesus who want a textbook that blends these approaches are likely to find here just what they're looking for."

Robert Gundry, Westmont College (emeritus)

"In this book Darrell Bock has accomplished for Evangelical theology what the late Raymond Brown achieved for its Catholic counterpart: a judicious synthesis of the scholarship of his colleagues with the concerns of a canonical reading of Scripture. The result is a readable textbook that respects the exegetical diversity of the Gospels while emphasizing the unity of their underlying witness."

Bruce Chilton, Bard College

"Rooted in outstanding scholarship and written with exceptional clarity, Bock's presentation of Jesus' life and teaching will be of great help to pastors, Christian leaders, and students of Scripture. Our students have already benefited from a pre-published version of this volume and speak with enthusiasm about it."

Clinton E. Arnold, Talbot School of Theology

The Authors

  1. Darrell L. Bock

    Darrell L. Bock

    Darrell L. Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, where he also serves as senior research professor of New Testament studies. He is the author or...

    Continue reading about Darrell L. Bock

  2. Benjamin I. Simpson

    Benjamin I. Simpson

    Benjamin I. Simpson (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is associate professor of New Testament studies at the Washington, DC, campus of Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author of Recent Research on the Historical Jesus.

    Continue reading about Benjamin I. Simpson


"The new edition includes three new chapters, which extend the scope of the book by providing an excellent discussion of 'how we got the Gospels.' The major commentary section has also been significantly expanded and updated. . . . The second edition of Jesus according to Scripture provides an excellent, up to date, and solidly evangelical introduction to the Gospels and their testimony to Jesus."

Murray Smith,


"An exceptionally well written, organized, and presented work of outstanding scholarship, Jesus according to Scripture is unreservedly recommended for church, seminary, community, and academic library Christian Studies collections and supplemental studies reading lists."

Wisconsin Bookwatch

"This book argues that a coherent picture of Jesus emerges from the canonical Gospels that is rooted in history and yet has produced its own historical-cultural impact. This edition includes three new chapters on background . . . along with an expanded and updated discussion of the dating and authorship of the Gospels and updated references throughout."

New Testament Abstracts

"This work is powerful, well-researched, and expertly worded. . . . Bock and Simpson are names you can trust to proclaim the true Jesus as portrayed from the pages of Holy Scripture as well as to draw Orthodox conclusions from it. I highly recommend this text."

Geeky Calvinist blog

Praise for the First Edition

"Bock's research and the contents of this work are excellent. The breakdown of the harmony units is well designed and prudent. . . . This work is balanced and up to date in scholarship cited, yet pertinent scholarship from the past is also cited. . . . Jesus according to Scripture will serve as an excellent textbook for a course on the life of Jesus as well as a supplement in courses on the individual Gospels or a New Testament introduction."

Steven L. Cox,

Review of Biblical Literature

"This book comes from one of the most significant evangelical scholars active today. . . . The target audience is students who are taking courses on Jesus and the Gospels. . . . The book will serve as a useful textbook."

Simon Gathercole,


"This is a book that will meet the needs of many readers, particularly those who are coming to the Gospels with little knowledge of those books. . . . This book will be particularly helpful to first year students; anyone who had worked through it with a Bible and a synopsis would be in a very good position to proceed to further Gospel study."

John Fenton,

Theological Book Review

"Bock has provided an insightful look into the presentation of Jesus given by each evangelist. . . . There is a wealth of helpful and interesting information in this book. The most valuable feature of the book is Bock's careful analysis of how each passage is used in the Gospel where it is found, as well as how it is used or modified in the other Synoptic Gospels. By doing this, Bock has established the fundamental unity of the Gospel accounts of Jesus, against the tendency of much redaction criticism to separate and play one Gospel over against another. . . . The evangelical world has been presented with a significant work, which carefully and meticulously goes through each passage in the four Gospels and shows its significance both within that Gospel and across the Gospel accounts. This work needed to be done, since it shows both the historical plausibility of much of the Gospel accounts as well as the fundamental unity of the four Gospels. Thus, the evangelical world stands in debt to Darrell Bock for this wonderful presentation of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of the four evangelists. As a reference work, this volume will be a welcome addition to every scholar's and pastor's library."

James Bibza,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Bock has done a wonderful job presenting a study of Jesus that is both scholarly, yet accessible. A student of the Gospels could easily read the account from the Bible and then consult Bock's brief but poignant insights on each section of the Bible. Many times, Bock provides important details from the Jewish world that add valuable insights to the understanding of particular passages. . . . Jesus according to Scripture is a suitable textbook for courses on the Life of Jesus at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Additionally, pastors, teachers, and laity who are interested in the Gospels and Jesus, will find this book beneficial. Especially helpful is the composite picture of Jesus in his concluding chapter."

H. H. Drake Williams III,

Evangelical Review of Theology

"A fine handbook to the study of individual gospel sections. . . . Bock's reflections . . . are concise and helpful both for sermon and teaching preparation on specific passages and also for the discipline of walking with Bock through the whole of the gospel corpus in order to build a larger synthetic portrait of Jesus. It is obvious that Bock has read many commentaries and interpretive articles in gleaning choice insights."

Wayne Brouwer,

Calvin Theological Journal

"Such a work is long overdue, given the current excesses of the third quest. Biblical literalists will find this book a welcome and valuable tool in gaining a fresh and complete view of Jesus and his message. . . . Jesus according to Scripture will well serve pastors and Bible students as a conservative, comprehensive picture of Jesus from the four Gospels that a commentary on a single Gospel cannot do and a typical Third Quest volume will not do. This excellent micro and macro examination of the canonical Jesus will both theologically enrich and spiritually challenge the reader."

James R. Wicker,

Southwestern Journal of Theology

"A welcome and scholarly antidote to skeptical approaches to the gospel portrait of our Lord. . . . Although this work is primarily intended for theological students, if you want to develop your familiarity with and understanding of the gospels (Bock works with the premise that too few people are familiar enough with Gospel accounts as they stand); if you wish to understand the gospels and their challenge in their biblical and historical background without buying separate commentaries; or if you've ever wondered how to understand the differences between the gospel accounts when telling the same story--then this volume will be of great help."

Ian D. Glover,

Monthly Record

"We warmly recommend this attractively printed and biblically thorough volume as a tool for studying and teaching the Gospels in a way that honors their narrative diversity and integrity because it honors their Main Subject, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Nelson D. Kloosterman,

Mid-America Journal of Theology

"At once a successful harmony of the Gospels, a life of Jesus, and a commentary that specializes in addressing the skeptical results of critical scholarship for each passage in the Gospels. The close examination of parallel texts is particularly helpful. . . . [Bock's] candor and exegetical skill are commendable. . . . Jesus according to Scripture is a handy reference work that may be consulted in hopscotch fashion on an as-needed basis, but it also deserves at least one reading from beginning to end. . . . My own reading of it rekindled my admiration for Jesus and inspired me to more faithful discipleship."

R. Douglas Geivett,

Christian Research Journal

"Bock demonstrates a wonderful ability to read the biblical texts as a unified story, while still noting the unique contribution of each biblical author. Jesus according to Scripture will provide you with the tools to understand and impart to your congregation a solid knowledge of the life of Jesus."

"An extensive and erudite account that strives to piece together a thorough and accurate portrait of Jesus Christ as drawn from the synoptic gospels, as well as an analysis of Jesus' portrayal in The Book of John. . . . Presents the reader with a clear and cohesive portrait of the Christ himself. Jesus according to Scripture is a welcome and impressive contribution to Christian Theological Studies in general, and those who seek a clearer understanding of the Gospel depiction of the role and personhood of Jesus in particular."

Midwest Book Review

"[Bock] gives the reader a thorough commentary on the four Gospels, a must for any serious Bible student. . . . It is all penned in a readable style. . . . Numerous scholarly footnotes reveal the author's widespread reading, as does the bibliography. There is also a comprehensive textual and subject index. Recommended."

New Life