‘Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom.’ ( Prologue, Rule of St Benedict)
I entered the monastery in 1993 and so have consciously lived the cycle of the liturgical year 28 times. That’s a lot of exposure to Scripture. I’m often asked what drew me to the monastery. In truth, a big draw was the beauty of the Psalms and the way in which Scripture is woven throughout the monastic day.
As I have journeyed with the Gospels, I have come upon several books which have been an enormous help to me in digging deeper into the text. I am always on the look out for an interpretive key that can help me when I find the text difficult, or things seem to have gone a little dry.
THE GOSPEL OF MARK
One of my favourite finds is: The Spiritual Landscape of Mark’s Gospel, by Bonnie Thurston
Bonnie Thurston journeys through Mark’s Gospel exploring the symbolism of wilderness, desert, sea, valley etc. I found it a very helpful way to approach passages which have become very familiar to me.
You can read a sample here:
Since my A Levels I have followed the work of scripture scholar Nicholas King sj. I chanced upon this unassuming little book in our library.
It’s 30 pages long and not a single word is wasted. (I am not sure if it is still in print.)
You can listen to Nicholas King on Mark’s Gospel here:
He has also produced a whole series of lectures on the New Testament which make very engaging listening. Nicholas King is very much a teacher and guides you through the texts in way that is fresh and often challenging. ( This is available on Amazon)
Belmont Abbey have recently produced a very good online retreat on Mark’s Gospel:
This material is very accessible and beautifully put together by Dom Brendan Thomas osb.
THE GOSPEL OF LUKE
Witness: Five Plays from the Gospel of Luke
Several years ago I came across these plays on Radio Four. I love the scope for the imagination that a radio play allows. I was captivated by the opening sentences voiced by Peter:
‘The lake means all to us. We’d starve without it.’
After each play there is a discussion with a panel of experts. These discussions gave me some helpful insights. (Available on Amazon)
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
I have long been an admirer of the work of poet, priest and songwriter Malcolm Guite. Some years ago he gave a talk to my community entitled ‘Poetry and Prayer’. He is a captivating speaker and has a deep love for the Scriptures. He makes a great deal of his work available on his blog. I particularly recommend his talks on John’s Gospel which he as helpfully themed as Life, Light, Love and Glory.
You can listen to his talks here:
THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
Strangely, I can’t think of anything books that stand out for me on Matthew’s Gospel. This is not because of any difficulty with the text.
New Testament scholar Paula Gooder has a range of helpful material on the Gospels. I found this talk very good:
Her website has a wealth of resources:
Lastly, I have one recommendation for a good introduction to the Gospels: Beginnings, Keys that Open the Gospels, by Morna Hooker. I love her clear and fresh style. This book is a gem.
You can read a sample here:
I hope you find something which inspires you in this round up.