Exploring 'The Big Picture' Behind the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
14 Nov 2014

Dr Robert Tilley will explore the Gospel According to St Matthew in a two day intensive course
at the CAEC

Study of the Gospels brings understanding of the continuity between the Old and New Testaments and how the message of the Church grew to include all people in an ever widening sweep of God's grace, says Dr Robert Tilley, one of Australia's leading Biblical scholars.

However for many Catholics, although we may recognise passages and are often able to quote from the Gospels, most of us have never read the Gospels from beginning to end, the Manager of Studies at the Archdiocese of Sydney's Catholic Adult Education Centre, Dr Peter McGregor comments.

"How can anyone appreciate and see the 'big picture' behind the Gospels or the context in which each was written without fully reading and understanding them," he asks.

Determined to bring greater understanding to men and women as well as the individual importance, meanings and nuances contained in each of the Gospels, the CAEC has embarked on a series of intensive two day seminars.

Conducted by Dr Tilley, who is a  lecturer in Bible Studies at the Catholic Institute of Sydney and University of Notre Dame Australia, the third seminar in the series will explore the Gospel According to St Matthew.

The series began with studies of the Gospels of St John and St Luke. Now in 2014, the liturgical year of St Matthew, the third Gospel will be examined in a two-day intensive seminar to be held at the CAEC at 3 Keating Street, Lidcombe on Monday and Tuesday, 24 and 25 November.

Dr Peter McGregor, Manager of Studies at the Catholic Adult Education
Centre, Lidcombe

"Although each Gospel shares a good deal in common with the others, with this being especially in respect of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the way each Gospel orders and edits its material can differ in very profound ways," Dr Tilley says. "For example both Matthew and Luke include in their accounts the economic language Jesus used. This is not so obvious in Mark or for that matter, John."

Although using similar language, Matthew and Luke often approached their accounts in different ways. For instance Luke tells the story of the conception and birth of Jesus by way of Mary but Matthew does so through Joseph.

However one of the most important reasons to become familiar with the Gospel According to St Matthew is because it is so Jewish in its content, Dr Tilley says, explaining that Matthew more than any of the other Gospels, accents the way in which Jesus fulfils the Law and the Prophets.

The Gospel According to St Matthew presents Jesus as the new Moses and the fulfilment of the Law of the Prophets

"The blessings of the Law served the promise given earlier by Abraham, the father of the Jewish faith. It is also probably why Matthew begins his genealogy of Jesus with Abraham whereas Luke traces the genealogy back to Adam. In a sense the Gospel of St Matthew shows us how the universal reach of God's blessings that was present in the Law is brought to fruition by Jesus," he believes.

Dr Tilley firmly believes that the more men and women of faith can understand the continuity between the Old and New Testaments, the more they will realise how the message of the Church to include all people in the ever widening sweep of God's grace, and thereby strengthen and deepen their own faith.

Reiterating Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Dr Tilley describes Scripture as the soul of theology.

"If Catholics wish to deepen their faith by way of a deeper understanding of Christ and the origins of the Church, they must read Scripture," he insists.

In addition to increasing their knowledge and understanding of the Gospels, seminar attendees may also find "consolation."

St Matthew the Evangelist

"A good deal of nonsense is said about the 'purity of the early Church,' when in fact we know from the New Testament the early Church was a lot like ours. It was full of problems. Not only problems in moral behaviour but in false teachings as well as teachings that had to be countered," Dr Tilley says.

Dr Tilley who is the author of 15 books including The Theology of Benedict XVI and Benedict XVI and the Search for Truth, is currently working on Job, a critique of negative theology in the light of justice.

He conducted the previous two intensive seminars on the Gospels According to John and Luke, which are now available as DVDs from the CAEC and will conduct the final seminar on the Gospel According to Mark next year which is also the liturgical year of St Mark.

To enrol for this fascinating and intriguing insight into the Gospel According to St Matthew to be held from 8.30 am until 4.30pm at 3 Keating Street, Lidcombe on Monday 24 November and Tuesday 25 November call the CAEC at 02 9646 9010 or email or log on to

Cost for one day is $55 and is $110 for the entire two day seminar.