Red Ink in the Gospels

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“You call me teacher for so I am. Teach me your statues. If (anyone) loves me they will keep my words and my Father will love them.” (John 13:13, Psalm 119:12, John 14-23 KJV).

The gospels were written between 40 AD and 100 AD. There are other first century sources not included in the standard biblical text. The Gospel of Matthew reflects the method and deliberation of a careful Hebrew man. Young John Mark betrays the eagerness of a man who does not think too long before he acts. Luke is the work of a warmhearted Greek physician. John reveals the profound brooding thoughts of a devote apostle who had pondered long upon the mystery of Christ.

Red print (1901) is like a grammatical slowdown sign. These words, phrases and paragraphs are the essence of Jesus’ instructions for life, first recorded by Mark decades after the resurrection.

The story of Jesus began as an Aramaic and Greek oral tradition. Some non-academic New Testament publishers print Jesus’ supposed actual words using red typeface like bright patches of scarlet among all the lines of black ink.

Jesus was indeed a man of new words. “Let your light shine.” (Matthew 5:15). “Come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21). “Make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19). “I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25.)

This Lenten season we’ll read the red letter sentences and think about what Jesus thought was important. He is our salvation.

According to Thomas Jefferson “A valuable talent is that of not using two words when one will do.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen remarked “Only the teachable find a teacher, only the docile find the doctor, only the humble find God.”