Recently, a number of New Testament scholars have been very interested in exploring the possibility that the gospel writers might have been using literary devices in their work. Why do some of their accounts differ gospel to gospel? Did they embellish the facts? Did they create stories to make a point? Michael Licona (interviewed by CT on this topic) and other leading scholars are of the mind that some of these literary devices help explain why the gospel writers don’t tell the same exact narrative.

Christian philosopher Lydia McGrew is not convinced, however. After writing blog posts critically engaging this theory, she got significant pushback and decided to dive into the research in earnest. The result of that work is her recently published book, The Mirror and the Mask: Liberating the Gospels from Literary Devices (DeWard Publishing), which argues that literary device theory is not only unnecessary for resolving discrepancies but also may do more harm than good.

CT interviewed McGrew to find out why she’s not a fan of this approach to New Testament interpretation.

Tell us about the catalyst for this project.

I noticed that certain approaches to gospel differences and alleged gospel discrepancies were becoming more popular in the evangelical world and especially the apologetics community. I started looking into them, and I realized that these could potentially be quite a problem. My goal in writing this book is to show that the gospel authors were honest, clear reporters who were not deliberately changing the facts but were trying to tell what really happened.

There is a negative and a positive side to that. My concern with the kind of literary devices these scholars are talking about is that they would seriously ...

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The Mirror or the Mask: Liberating the Gospels from Literary Devices
The Mirror or the Mask: Liberating the Gospels from Literary Devices
DeWard Publishing
2019-12-10
582 pp., 24.99
Buy The Mirror or the Mask: Liberating the Gospels from Literary Devices from Amazon