Michael R. Cosby

Author, Scholar, Speaker

Portraits of Jesus: An Inductive Approach to the Gospels

Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.

“Bravo! A book that communicates the excitement of studying scripture by putting students in touch with the Bible itself! Cosby offers exegesis in disguise, serious academic scholarship decked in the familiar robes of collegial Bible study. He provides valuable information as he takes us through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but always steps back to let us discover the best insights for ourselves. The result is an engaging introduction to the Gospels that is at once dependable and delightful, perceptive and potentially life-changing. A lively and lucid guide to the distinctive witnesses of the four Gospels and to the person of Jesus Christ that they reveal.”

—Mark Allan Powell, Leatherman Professor of New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Author of Jesus as a Figure in History


“Too often we try to enter the Gospels only through sermons or books about the Gospels.  Rarely do we take the time to reflect on them directly. Portraits of Jesus compels us to read the Gospels with a new depth of understanding. As we do so, we find a greater excitement as we come to know the Jesus to whose life and ministry the Gospels bear witness. I recommend this book for all who want to cut through the preconceptions of tradition and scholarship and grapple with the biblical text itself.”

Tremper Longman III, Gundry Professor of Religious Studies, Westmont College


“Over the last two thousand years a host of people have tried to tell us who Jesus really was—more often than not, he appeared as nothing more than the character his interpreters wanted him to be. We are engaged in yet another quest for the real Jesus today. The fact is, as Portraits of Jesus shows us, there is only one real Jesus, the Jesus of the Gospels, and the strength of this book is in its letting the Gospels speak for themselves. Cosby’s inductive approach and engaging style draw the reader into the text and his thoughtful questions bring the individual episodes of the Gospels to life. In this way Jesus is presented as the Gospel writers would have wanted it, not as a figure of the past, but as a living challenge to us today.”

—Walter Elwell, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Wheaton College


“This is a book clearly written by a master teacher. It invites students to focus on the gospel accounts themselves, allowing critical issues to emerge as part of the experience of reading the gospels, instead of suggesting that academic study of scripture is solely the analysis of literary and historical problems within the text. While the book imposes no theological perspective on the reader, it cultivates his or her ability to draw theological convictions from scripture. Portraits of Jesus provides a long-needed alternative for courses on the gospels.”

—Randy L. Maddox, Walls Professor of Wesleyan Theology, Seattle Pacific University


“Cosby deftly balances critical, practical, and theological approaches to Gospel texts. His work is consistently insightful. It was designed for use by upper-level undergraduates, but it would be useful by anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Jesus as he is presented in the canonical Gospels. Enthusiastically recommended.”

—Thomas F. Johnson, Dean of the Seminary, George Fox University

Book cover: Portraits of Jesus.

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