A Mathematician, A Psychologist, A Dramatist, and A Philosopher Write a Book:

Or, How The Gospels Came To Be

"Now that we've stood around talking for fifteen minutes, perhaps we could actually get started?" Matthew said.

Luke glared at him. "I have started. John was telling me about The Lazarus Incident. If only the man hadn't died again already. If only you'd had a psychologist there to interview him."

Mark snorted. "Only you would look at Jesus' greatest miracle and think of psychology."

"I mean," Matthew raised his voice, "we should start deciding who is writing what. I have compiled a list of prophecies Jesus fulfilled—"

"A list!" John spoke up. "You cannot base a book on a list!"

"Perhaps we should sit down," Luke said in a deliberately reasonable tone, "and share our ideas. Where do we want to begin this book?"

"At the beginning seems logical," answered logical, academic Matthew. "Obviously His birth was the beginning of a series of miraculous fulfillments of prophecy—"

"You cannot begin a book with a birth!" dramatic, impatient Mark objected. "There is no dramatic tension in that! Everyone knows He was born."

"Oh, and where would you begin it? With His death?"

"That would be an excellent idea," Mark grinned. "But I want to open it with a very weird figure that grabs the attention—John the Baptist. Then straight into the Baptism—the Holy Spirit tackles Him like a rock dove—and then being driven out to the desert. Three powerful images that will make people sit up and stare—especially the Romans."

"That is…certainly an intriguing idea," Luke, the psychologist and humanitarian, said carefully. "I think I agree with both of you. We should begin with a birth, but it should be John the Baptist's. That was the first true miracle in the whole story. Think how interesting it will be to start with Zechariah's response to an angel! I have already interviewed some of the people who were there—Elizabeth told everything to her sister, and her sister told it to her son—"

"Luke, if this were up to you, all you would talk about would be sick people and how the beggar in the street responded to Jesus," Matthew said. "That is good, and we will incorporate it, but we have to put in the basis of why He did everything He did. All of history is carefully constructed to point to the moment of His birth, and it must be brought out."

Mark groaned. "So write a theology book. This thing has to be interesting."

"People will find it interesting if we put in the human interest angle," Luke insisted. "People like to read about others' problems and how they are taken care of. The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth is like Abraham and Sarah. The fulfillment of a deep need against all odds."

Matthew started to argue with him. Mark shrugged and turned to John. "They are both wrong. This book needs power. Oomph. You have been quiet. What do you think? John? Hello! Are you even paying attention?"

John the dreamer turned his gaze to him. "What?"

"You haven't even been listening! We've been arguing about how to open the book. How would you do it?"

John smiled. "With the beginning. 'In the beginning was the Word…'"

"The word? What is that supposed to mean?"

"It means something that reaches into the depths of human need and fulfills it."

"Oh, you are as bad as Matthew."

By now Matthew and Luke were arguing Magi and shepherds.

"…that He reached out of Israel to bring in the witness of scholars such as the Magi is a highly significant event!"

"And the fact that He sent a legion of angels to poor, unclean shepherds isn't?"

"It did not fulfill scripture," Matthew said stubbornly.

"Therefore it is not important?"

"Everything that happened was important. But we only have so much room."

"I want to write my own book," Mark interrupted.

They all stared at him.

"I think we all do," Luke agreed.

"Right, so we'll each write the things that stand out to us. I will write the power of His miracles, and you can write your compassionate, analytical, psychological stuff, and Matthew can write his theology book of prophecies fulfilled, and John will write…whatever he will write. Philosophy or something."

"His love," John said.

"I thought you said it was going to be about words. Never mind. What do you all say?"

They all nodded their agreement. Matthew mused, "Do you think we'll be able to get a publisher?"

Author's note: This story is a joke. It's not how it actually happened.