Fuller Theological Seminary’s Fuller Studio hosted a live stream of a continuous reading of the Gospels on September 11, 2019. The stream lasted over nine hours and featured people in different parts of the world reading through the four Gospels. Four Fuller professors also provided commentary before the reading of each Gospel.
“Whether you’re together with friends or family around the table, whether you’re alone in your room or on a crowded subway, know you are part of the church universal listening to God’s Word together,” says Tod Bolsinger, vice president and chief of leadership formation at Fuller.
The Goal Is to Get People Reading Scripture Together
The live stream project was a part of Fuller’s Communal Reading of Scripture series, which is an audio project that seeks to “gather people from all over the world to hear the Scripture together.”
As part of their effort to get people to listen to Scripture with other believers around the world, Fuller Studio launched Introductions to the Books of the Bible, a special video series which features professors in their respective areas of expertise explaining the themes behind each of the books of the Bible. Currently, only the commentaries on the four Gospels are available, although the entire series is scheduled to be available by March 2020.
In the live stream, readers take turns reading from the studio at Fuller’s main campus in Pasadena, California, to different locations across the U.S. and abroad. Readers are seen in California, Texas, Arizona, New York, Belgium, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. The group uses a range of English Bible translations including NIV, ESV, CEB, and NRSV.
English isn’t the only language featured on the video, either. A handful of readers can be heard reading from Cantonese, French, Korean, Spanish, Turkish, Fulfulde (spoken in Nigeria), and Tagalog translations of the Gospels.
Themes of the Four Gospels Discussed in Short Commentaries
In their commentaries, the professors point to what they believe are the most significant themes of each of the four Gospels. Dr. Tommy Givens starts out saying that Matthew highlights the importance of living in and reaching out to one’s own community just as Jesus did. Givens says this message has implications for the church today. “[Jesus] refuses to give up on what’s familiar even when that grows to be apparently stubborn at times, or difficult. And this, I think, should affect our vision of what it means to follow Jesus because we often romanticize that following Jesus or engaging in Christian mission will necessarily take us far away to something that strikes us as exotic, or move us to do something very dramatic and flashy,” Givens says.
Dr. Ahmi Lee likens Mark’s telling of the Gospel to an attention-grabbing, action-packed sermon that drives home the message that Jesus is the Son of God. “John Mark…is not interested in telling us a perfectly packaged story that we just have to sit back, sip our tea, and read as distant readers. Rather, we are invited into a captivating reality—life-altering, real-life story of Jesus that keeps us on the edges of our seats. Ultimately, Mark wants to show us who Jesus is, and he does this by including snapshots from Jesus’ life and ministry that revealed to us his unique identity and mission as the Messiah who is fully God and fully human,” Lee says.
Dr. Joel B. Green reflects on how Luke begins with Mary’s Song, also known as the Magnificant. Green believes starting the Gospel this way points to the theme Luke is getting at: one of revolution. Green explains “Mary’s Song prepares us for the rest of the Gospel of Luke..by portraying the coming of salvation in terms of reversal. Things get turned upside down. In fact, in the Song of Mary you have up-down language as well as in-out language. Up-down, leveling. In-out, so that the excluded are included based not on their position, not on what gender they were, not on how they were born, not on who their parents were, not on their wealth, and so on, but based on need and response.” Green also sees the theme of journey in Mary’s life and actions.
Dr. Marianne Meye Thompson believes the theme of the Gospel of John is that God is the God of all life, and that God is embodied in the person of Jesus. This Gospel borrows language from Genesis in its beginning, signifying the importance of creation. “Not only do the things that Jesus does show us that he is the life from God but the words that he speaks are also the words of life. ‘I am the bread of life.’ ‘I am the light of the world.’ ‘I am the good shepherd.’ ‘I am the door for the sheep.’ ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’”
The entire stream was captured and posted to YouTube, so you can watch or listen to the entire presentation at your leisure.