Gospels: Four Portraits, One Jesus


Course Description

The Gospels record the "greatest story every told," the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. To study the Gospels is to study the foundation of Christianity. To Christians worldwide, the man Jesus of Nazareth is the centerpiece of history, the object of faith, hope, and worship. Even those who do not follow Jesus admit the vast influence of his life. For anyone interested in knowing more about Jesus, study of the four biblical Gospels is essential.


In Four Portraits, One Jesus, author and professor Mark Strauss provides an expert and understandable introduction to these first four books of the New Testament and the life and person of Jesus. Like different artists rendering the same subject using different styles and points of view, the Gospels paint four highly distinctive portraits of the same remarkable Jesus.


With clarity and insight, Strauss illuminates these four books, first addressing their nature, origin, methods for study, and historical, religious, and cultural backgrounds. He then moves into a closer study of each narrative and its contribution to our understanding of Jesus, investigating elements such as plot, characters, and theme. Finally, he pulls it all together with a detailed examination of what the Gospels teach about Jesus' ministry, message, death, and resurrection, with excursions into the quest for the historical Jesus and the historical reliability of the Gospels.

By completing this course, you'll gain

  • an understanding of the genre and function of the four biblical Gospels
  • knowledge of the historical, religious, social, and cultural contexts in which Jesus lived and the Gospels were written
  • insight into the individual portraits of Jesus presented within each Gospel, the ways in which those portraits differ, and the reasons why
  • an introduction to the modern "search for the historical Jesus" and the historical reliability of the Gospels
  • a unifying overview, drawn from all four gospels, of Jesus' life, ministry, miracles, message, and death and resurrection
  • confidence in the Gospel's presentation of Jesus and familiarity with the key themes and events of each.

Course Instructor

Mark L. Strauss

Ph.D., University of Aberdeen


Mark Strauss is profess of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in San Diego. He has written The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, Distorting Scripture?: The Challenge of Bible Translation and Gender Accuracy, Luke in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary series, and Mark in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.

Course Outline

1.   What are the Gospels?

2.  Exploring the Origin an Nature

3.  Reading and Hearing the Gospels

4.  The Historical Setting of the Gospels

5.  The Religious, Social, and Cultural Background to the Gospels

6.  Mark

7.   Matthew.

8.  Luke

9.  MIDTERM EXAM


10.  John

11.  Searching for the Real Jesus

12.  Historical Reliability of the Gospels

13.  Contours and Chronology of Jesus' Ministry

14.  Jesus' Birth, Childhood, and Early Ministry

15.  Message and Miracles of Jesus

16.  Messianic Words and Actions of Jesus

17.  Death and Resurrection of Jesus

18.  FINAL EXAM

Course Textbook

This course is based on Mark L. Strauss' book, Four Portraits, One Jesus. While taking this course, you will have online access to most of this book's contents. However, if you want off line access or want this book in your personal library as a long-term reference, you may purchase it by clicking on the button to the right which will link you to amazon.ca. 


Clearwater College is a participant in the Amazon.com.ca, Inc. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.ca. When you purchase from amazon.ca by linking through our website, Clearwater College receives a referral fee not only for this book, but also for any other purchases during your session on Amazon after linking through our site.


Course Details

Gospels: Four Portraits, One Jesus

by Mark L. Strauss


16 Units, Self-paced

6.5 Hours of Video

12 Month Access to All Online Content

3 Credits toward a Certificate, Diploma, or Degree

Support by a Clearwater College Professor


Price: $510 CAN