From Jonathan Pennington Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction (Baker Academic, 2012), 38-49.

  1. We need to study the Gospels because they have been central to the Church throughout its history.
  2. We need the Gospels because Paul and the other New Testament writers presuppose and build upon the story and teaching of Jesus.
  3. We need a healthy diet of the Gospels because although the written form of the Gospels is subsequent to most of the Epistles, the traditions behind them are not; they go back to the time of Jesus himself and the immediately following years, passed down through oral (and eventually written) repetition.
  4. We need the Gospels because in them we get a more direct sense of the Bible’s great story line.
  5. We need the Gospels because in them we get a concentrated exposure to the biblical emphasis on the coming kingdom of God.
  6. We need the Gospels because there are different languages or discourses of truth.
  7. We need the Gospels because they are in many ways a more comprehensive and paradigmatic type of map.
  8. We need the Gospels because encountering Jesus in narrative helps us grow in experiential knowledge and helps us realize that reality does not always fit into neat little boxes of “truth.”
  9. We need the Gospels because in the Gospels alone we get a personal, upfront encounter with Jesus Christ.

You can read for free online the table of contents, the foreword by Richard Bauckham, and the first chapter, “What Are the Gospels? Defining Gospel.”