Four Portraits, One Jesus
Zondervan Academic

Four Portraits, One Jesus

The Gospels record the "greatest story ever told," the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. To study the Gospels is to study the foundation of Christianity.

At a Glance

  • An overview the genre and function of the four biblical Gospels with an unifying overview, drawn from all four gospels, of Jesus’ life, ministry, miracles, message, and death and resurrection
  • Teachings on the historical, religious, social, and cultural contexts in which Jesus lived and the Gospels were written
  • Insights into the individual portraits of Jesus presented within each Gospel, the ways in which those portraits differ, and the reasons why
  • An introduction to the modern “search for the historical Jesus” and the historical reliability of the Gospels
  • Access to all course material—video lectures; readings enhanced by reflection question, quizzes, exams, and the Cerego learning system to build memory retention of course objectives
  • 24/7 access for 12 months to complete the course at your own pace


120 hours


This course can be taken for academic credit through the BibleMesh Institute: Click Here.

More Details

Based on the popular textbook Four Portraits, One Jesus by Mark L. Strauss, is a thorough yet accessible introduction to the Four Gospels and their subject, the life and person of Jesus. Like different artists rendering the same subject using different styles and points of view, the Gospel authors paint four highly distinctive portraits of the same remarkable Jesus.

With clarity and insight, this course illuminates these four books, first addressing their nature, origin, methods for study, and historical, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Moving then into a closer study of each narrative and its contribution to our understanding of Jesus, investigating elements such as plot, characters, and theme; the course finally pulls it all together with a detailed examination of what the Gospels teach about Jesus’ ministry, message, death, and resurrection, with excursions into the quest for the historical Jesus and the historical reliability of the Gospels.

All course material—instructional videos, readings, practical exercises, and quizzes—is available online for study at your own convenience.

Course Outline

  1. What Are the Gospels?
  2. Exploring the Origin and Nature of the Gospels
  3. Reading and Hearing the Gospel Stories
  4. The Historical Setting of the Gospels
  5. The Religious, Social, and Cultural Settings of the Gospels
  6. Mark
  7. Matthew
  8. Luke
  9. John
  10. Searching for the Real Jesus
  11. Historical Reliability of the Gospels
  12. Contours and Chronology of Jesus’ Ministry
  13. Jesus’ Birth, Childhood, and Early Ministry
  14. Message and Miracles of Jesus
  15. Messianic Words and Actions of Jesus
  16. Death and Resurrection of Jesus

About the Technology

Author and Instructor

Mark L. Strauss
Dr. Mark L. Strauss

Ph.D., University of Aberdeen

Mark Strauss is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in San Diego. He has written The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, Distorting Scripture?: The Challenge of Bible Translation and Gender Accuracy, Luke in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary series, and Mark in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.