"'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
— Jesus, Matthew 22:37-40
The first four books of the New Testament, chronicling the life of one Jesus Christ. Their name means "Good News"; the idea behind the Gospels is that they exist as "good news" to be spread by Christians to the world. As a result, each of the four has a slightly different tone and target.Matthew - Compares Old Testament scripture with Jesus’ deeds, to appeal to Jews.Mark - Estimated to be the oldest Gospel, written for the Romans, and portrays Jesus as the miracle worker.Luke - Written for Gentiles, and emphasizes Jesus as a Nice Guy who preached kindness and charity. Has the most in-depth look into his origin story and contains the most parables.John - The most introspective Gospel, written for Christians.Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the "Synoptic Gospels" because they tell largely the same story (from Greek syn=together, opsis=seeing). It's generally accepted in modern Biblical scholarship that Mark was written first, and that Matthew and Lukenote Or whoever wrote those books, but let's not get into ''that'' fight copied off of Mark and another source that no longer exists (usually called "Q", from German "Quelle", meaning "Source") containing Jesus' sayings and parables. John is substantially different from the other three, and may have been included in the canon primarily because of its depth of theology despite the fact that it contradicts the Synoptics on the details of Jesus' life at certain points. Again, we must emphasize: the Gospels are supposed to be "good news", not "modern historiography"; the contradictions aren't meaningful in the face of the overall message.
Tropes found in the Gospels:
Actually, I Am Him: Jesus did this from time to time. One example comes from John chapter 9, after curing a man of his blindness:
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and worshiped him.
A Taste of the Lash: Pilate has Jesus scourged in an attempt to placate the mob that's calling for Jesus' crucifixion. They still want him dead.
Author Appeal: Luke, who was a doctor, notes several medical details in his accounts that the other authors glossed over, such as that the girl who Jesus brought back from the dead died of a high fever, or that Christ was sweating blood at Gethsemane.
Ex-tax collector Matthew focuses on money. Example: He was the only to say how much Judas was paid for his betrayal.
Beware the Nice Ones: For an Incorruptible Pure Pureness who preaches love, kindness, and forgiveness, this isn't the case where Jesus loses it when He spots the merchants making His father's house into a den of robbers instead of a house of prayer.
Bittersweet Ending: Jesus is gone but the apostles vow to spread his message to the rest of the world.
Bigger Than Jesus: Ironically enough, Jesus himself invokes this trope, mentioning that he's "greater than Solomon" and "greater than Jonah."
Child Prodigy: Jesus is depicting discussing the Torah with much older and better learned men when he's only a preteen.
Enemies Equals Greatness: Some verses such as Matthew 5:11-12 and John 15:18-20 deal with this as far as following Jesus is concerned. The former assures that being hated and persecuted leads to great rewards, whereas the latter assures that it's better to have enemies than to be God's enemy.
Evil Gloating: The Romans mock Jesus heavily while torturing him before finally killing him, asking him if he's really the King of the Jews. They even put up a sign above his head on the cross reading Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). *
And that's where that INRI thing comes from in paintings.
Famous Last Words: Even these are in Rashomon-Style: all of the Gospels have Jesus saying different things on the cross. (It's possible he said all of them, just at different times, or maybe it's just artistic license.)
Flat Earth Atheist: Not quite atheists per se, but some people denied Jesus' divinity even immediately after watching Him perform real-life miracles.
Insane Troll Logic: After seeing Jesus cast out demons, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. Jesus points out that if that were the case, it would make Satan's kingdom A House Divided.
Friend to All Children: Jesus. He got quite annoyed with His disciples when they tried to stop children from "bothering" Him, explaining that little children had exemplary faith in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Healing Hands: Jesus spent a great deal of time healing sick people.
Holier Than Thou: Jesus thoroughly berated the religious leaders of his time for being like this. Needless to say, they didn't take it well.
Implausible Deniability: After Jesus' Resurrection, the Jewish leaders bribed the guards to say they were asleep and the disciples stole His body. However, this alibi leaves the little questions of why they were asleep at their post, and how they knew exactly what was going on while they were asleep!
Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Jesus is not only the son of God, but the only man who has never sinned a single time in his life. It is important to notice that while he never sinned, theologians and religious folk will point out that he faced every temptation known to man, but rejected all of them without using his godly powers, in order to set an example for mankind.
Informed Judaism: Jesus and most of his followers were Jews, obviously, since Christianity didn't formally exist yet. They're not really portrayed as doing a whole lot of religiously Jewish stuff though besides celebrating Passover and questioning whether it's okay to eat non-kosher foods (possibly to depict them as But Not Too Foreign for non-Jewish audiences).
Intimidating Revenue Service: Whenever Jesus needs an example of a profession that everyone will instantly recognize as corrupt and sinful, he mentions... Prostitutes? Pharisees? Torturers?... Tax collectors.Justified, since in Ancient Rome tax collectors were pretty universally reviled for extorting money from their countrymen while being on the take. Also averted, in that some tax collectors such as Matthew and Zacchaeus are shown to be redeemed.
Jacob Marley Warning: Invoked in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. After his death, the Rich Man in hell asks Abraham to send a warning to his surviving brothers so they can repent and avoid his fate. Abraham subverts the trope, however, explaining that if they didn't believe Moses and the prophets, they wouldn't believe a ghostly messenger either.
Jesus Was Way Cool: Zig Zagged, perhaps on account of being an Unbuilt Trope. There are many moments when people regard Jesus as totally awesome, but just as many moments when He's abandoned, misunderstood, hated, and finally executed— sometimes by the very same people who thought He was so cool a few chapters before.
Jumped at the Call: This happened with most of the apostles. Jesus would simply say "Follow me," and they would drop everything they were doing and follow Him.
Justified: At the time, the Rabbi would choose their successor this way between their pupils, all of which should know the full Law by then (becoming a Rabbi being the dream job back then). The apostles weren't educated from their childhood but instead had become workers, so it was kind of a really unexpected honor for them.
Given the political climate of the time, lots of people were named Jesus, hence him always being referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth". Tradition states that Barabbas, the man released in Jesus' place, was also named Jesus *
Barabbas, or Bar Abba in Aramaic, is actually his last name, meaning "son of the Father".
Among Jesus' disciples, there were two men named James, two named Judas, and two named Simon (one had to be nicknamed "Peter"). On one occasion, John has to introduce dialogue by saying, "Judas, not Iscariot, said..."
"Judas who is not called Iscariot" is now known as St. Jude, patron of lost causes, because so few people would pray to him on account of the similarity.
The Book of John, written by John the Apostle, opens up by introducing another John, John the Baptist.
Also, depending how you count, there may be as many as four women (and definitely at least two) named Mary, apart from Jesus' Mother.
There are even two Herods— Herod the Great and Herod Antipas.
Positive Discrimination: The Samaritans are depicted in a positive light several times, most famously in the story of the Good Samaritan. This is because they were Acceptable Ethnic Targets at the time and there was a lot of mutual enmity between them and the Jews.
Quote-to-Quote Combat: In Luke 4 Satan tries to tempt Jesus into throwing himself from the highest point in the temple and quotes from the Psalms to suggest that God will prevent Jesus from falling to his death. Jesus shoots back with "you shall not tempt the Lord your God" from the book of Deuteronomy.
Rasputinian Death: Crucifixion is a horrible way to die, no doubt about it. It could take days before the victim died of blood loss, dehydration and exposure to the elements, which is why the victims' legs were broken on the day after to speed up the process *
this would put pressure on their lungs and make them suffocate, basically a Mercy Kill
. When they go to do this to Jesus, though, they find he's already dead. (Note that he was also tortured severely for hours before being put on the cross and forced to carry the big heavy thing all the way to the execution site.)
Rashomon-Style: There's a reason this page isn't called "The One Gospel." The four different versions of the story mostly serve to complement and expand on each other, though a few points are harder to reconcile. Among scholars, this is known as the "Harmony of the Gospels"; you can even buy editions of The Bible that lay out the four accounts side by side for easy comparison.
Jesus: How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people's bones and every kind of impurity.
Stealth Hi/Bye: Post resurrection, Jesus made sudden appearances even in locked rooms, and then disappearing just as suddenly.
Take a Third Option: (Matthew 22) Are we answerable to God or to earthly powers such as the Romans? *
Many Jews were pretty much sick of the Romans by this point and had no desire to pay taxes to support Roman idolatry and hedonistic living. The last thing they would have wanted to hear was a command to pay their taxes. If Christ had said that this was unnecessary, though, well...
(John 7-8) Will Jesus say that a woman caught in the act of adultery should be stoned or not? *
If Christ had said that she shouldn't be stoned, the Pharisees would have accused Him of violating the laws of Moses. If He had said that she should, He would likely have been turned over to the Romans, who didn't allow the Jews to perform their own executions.
Total Eclipse of the Plot: According to Mark, Luke and Matthew, a period of darkness occurred during Jesus' crucifixion, lasting from noon to 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It couldn't have been a solar eclipse — not only because it lasted three hours, but also because the crucifixion took place on the first day of Passover, which is held at full moon when solar eclipses cannot occur. Nevertheless, the evangelists probably imagined it as a total solar eclipse.
Ungrateful Bastards: Jesus healed ten lepers, and only one of them, a Samaritan, bothered to thank Him.
Jesus also told the parable of an man who, after having his debts forgiven by his master, went after a fellow servant who owed him a mere pittance in comparison.
Urban Legend of Zelda: Discussed TropeIn-Universe. Rumors were flying all over the place about Jesus' true identity, and only Peter (via divine intervention) gets it right; in the Gospel of John the author dismisses a rumor that "the disciple Jesus loved" wouldn't die—no, Jesus only said "if I wanted him to live until I came, what's that to you?"