How To Use This Approach

Approaching the Gospels Together is a time-tested way of reading the stories of Jesus in a small-group setting, guided by questions to help each person discover for themselves the Good News of Jesus Christ.

This approach uses two unique books:

records-of-the-life-of-jesus-photo Records of the Life of Jesus by Dr. Henry B. Sharman is the text used by all members of the group, containing the text of the four Gospels.  The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (the Synoptic Gospels) are laid out in parallel format, providing the opportunity to compare the ways in which these three Gospel writers have recorded the life and teachings of Jesus. Following the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, which was written later and in a different style altogether, is then read in its own uniqueness.

The text is broken down into Sections and Paragraphs, allowing for easy reference.  Footnotes include information about specific words and about early manuscripts.  Hebrew Scripture and non-canonical references identify the source of quotations in the text and other background information.

marys-book-photo Approaching the Gospels Together by Mary C. Morrison is for the group facilitator only.  The heart of this leader’s guide is a sequence of thought-provoking questions keyed to the layout of Dr. Sharman’s Records of the Life of Jesus.  In addition, the leader’s guide contains helpful information in how to begin and support on-going group study.

Morrison’s book is also keyed to Throckmorton’s Gospel Parallels, but Throckmorton’s book does not contain the Gospel of John.  For a complete study of all four Gospels, using Dr. Sharman’s Records of the Life of Jesus is recommended.

Using these two books together is the key to unlocking the Gospels, allowing the group participants to take a good look at what is there and staying text-centered in the process.

Where to purchase these two books:

Records of the Life of Jesus can be purchased directly from the publisher, the Guild for Psychological Studies, by clicking HERE.

Approaching the Gospels Together can be purchased directly from the publisher, Pendle Hill, by clicking HERE.

Both books can sometimes be found on Amazon or other online sellers.  Before purchasing the Recordsmake sure you are purchasing the Second Edition published by the Guild for Psychological Studies, copyright 1991.  The original edition of the Records that was published in 1917 is now being reprinted by other publishers, but has two significant differences from the Second Edition.  First, the Bible translation used in the original edition is the English Revised Version of 1881; the Second Edition uses the Revised Standard Version of 1971.  Second, the original edition does not contain references to the Hebrew Scriptures or to non-canonical sources.

What a session looks like:

  • Participants are seated around a table, each with their own Bible and the text (either their own Sharman book or a photocopy of the page(s) to be read).
  • The leader has a copy of the Sharman text with the corresponding questions suggested in Morrison’s book.
  • The leader is responsible for determining the material to cover during a particular session and asking the questions to be explored.
  • Only the leader has the questions, which do not direct the conversation as much as they are used to follow the movement of the Spirit within the group.
  • By design, there is no homework for participants; the reading and discussions are done during the sessions.
  • References to Hebrew Scriptures are seen as vital to understanding Jesus’ life and teachings and are an integral part of the conversations.

Resources for the Leader:

Morrison’s book Approaching the Gospels Together contains helpful information for the group leader, including the following:

Some of this information can also be found on our Resources Page.

Are you ready to learn more?