Taking a unique approach to harmonizing the Biblical accounts, Edwin Alan Salhany expertly weaves the four Gospel stories together into one continuous chronological narrative, removing duplication, and yet preserving all the details and nuances of the different writers. Using the venerable King James text, this is not a paraphrase, but a re-edit of the very Word of God. Doing in-depth biblical research and taking into account the distinct writing styles and format of the four Gospel stories, ‘The Gospel “Lite”’ gives a chronological and unduplicated narrative of the life of Jesus Christ. The book reflects Salhany’s expertise in theology and Scripture research. In a single text, all four Gospel stories are expertly embedded and combined while also preserving the details and nuances of the different writers. Each time period and incident in the Savior’s life is identified and labeled, with full text references, dates, and indexes providing a unique and enriching encounter with the greatest story ever told. The Gospel “Lite” enables the reader to study all four Gospels at the same time, while dealing with a single text. An invaluable resource for Bible students, faithful scripture readers, ministers, pastors and teachers.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Tell us about your book The Gospel Lite?
EDWIN ALAN SALHANY: The Gospel “Lite” is what could technically be called a synthetic gospel. This is where the author/editor uses existing material to produce something completely new, without adding any new material. There are four descriptions of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ in the Bible, with a lot of the material being nearly exact duplications. Using just the words and phrases from these various accounts The Gospel “Lite” weaves them together, in chronological order, to give the reader a composite, consolidated gospel, without any unnecessary repetition. In doing so, The Gospel “Lite” brings a whole new perspective to the Gospel story. It gives a more accurate account of the various encounters and events in the life of Jesus Christ and enables the reader to see the various incidents in relationship to one another. This, in turn, makes it easier to see how one event leads to the next, and how one encounter impacts later exchanges.
While The Gospel “Lite” makes it possible to easily do a devotional read of all four Gospel accounts at the same time, it is also an invaluable study and research tool. It can be difficult to keep the relationship between events and the chronology of their place in Christ’s ministry straight, but The Gospel “Lite” makes it easy to avoid mistakes. Moreover, the source references are clearly delineated and any variations between the gospel accounts are identified and presented within the text, so they are easy to spot. The Gospel “Lite” also includes comprehensive indices so the location of any specific text or incident can be easily located, whether from a specific Gospel or within the composite story. There are also several appendix articles and charts that can bring more clarity and understanding to some of the story’s nuances that a modern reader might not identify with or recognize.
BD: Tell us about yourself?
EAS: I was blessed to have been raised in a Christian home with a love for Jesus. My father was a missionary minded pastor and I spent most of my formative years in central Africa. Living apart from the typical western culture enabled the development of a global perspective and appreciation for other cultures. It also afforded the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Growing up I envisioned myself as a missionary doctor and enjoyed research and study. I also learned many practical skills, as we did not have access to many of the support systems available in more affluent surroundings. Having to “make do” is a great teacher of life skills and common sense! I was also privileged to enjoy a wide range of educational experiences.
Shortly after entering college on a fast-track pre-med program I realized that my temperament and personality was not best suited for Western allopathic medicine and I changed my program to more religious studies. I worked my way through school in various ministries and skilled labor pursuits. After graduating college with degrees in Theology and Applied religion, I obtained certification as a Master Automotive Technician, worked as an industrial arts teacher, maintenance director, Bible and History teacher, and served as an assistant and then interim school principal. I also spent a number of years as an Electronic Engine Control Specialist for a Ford dealership, all the while working with and for my local church. During these early years my wife (who is my college sweetheart and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing) started and built up a health ministry centered around a natural foods business. Eventually the health food store became our core means of financial support and we have been able to invest more time into church work.
BD: What led you to writing/creating this book?
EAS: As a church leader I was constantly looking for appropriate material to share with the church. One day I was especially impressed with the Apostle Paul’s declaration to the Corinthians that he was determined to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ. (1Cor2:2). The Gospels are the first-hand accounts of Jesus life on this earth and the thought struck me: Would it be possible to edit the actual text of the King James Version into a continuous, chronological narrative, avoiding needless duplication, and yet preserving the nuances of the various writers? Was it possible to weave the snippets of conversation, or the details of the various parables, recorded by the Gospel authors together in a manner that made sense? And, if it could be done, would it enhance my understanding of the Gospel story?
All the “harmonies” I could find were paraphrases, or simply the related passages in consecutive or parallel sections, so I decided to try to do it myself. What I thought would be a short study project turned into a lengthy adventure of research, delightful discovery, and dynamic spiritual growth. Urged by family and friends to share the project’s results I had the manuscript put into a book.
BD: What prompted you to write this book, essentially taking on the task of editing the bible?
EAS: To often, as Bible instructors or preachers, we tend to focus on some particular passage, parable, or incident in the Gospel story, and draw lessons from them for our current situation. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach it tends to leave out other important lessons that can be learned. Jesus did not live in a vacuum and randomly teach important Bible truths just out of the blue. His lessons were directed to specific people, under specific circumstances, and related to their specific need at the time. Understanding these relationships can bring a whole new perspective to His doctrines. Digging out these relationships, however, requires an attention to details that often seem inconsequential, and a knowledge of history, time and place many ordinary Bible readers, and professionals, do not have. Presenting the Gospel material in this consolidated, composite, chronological fashion makes it much easier to avoid mistakes in retelling the story, interpretation or application. It should also be remembered, that in the original manuscripts, there was neither verse delineation, capitalization or punctuation, elements that can greatly impact a modern reader‘s understanding.
BD: What was the journey like from when you first thought of writing the book to now having it published?
EAS: In a word, challenging. At the same time, the more I worked on the project the more exciting and rewarding it became because of the new insights I was getting.
It was also inspiring and rewarding to share what I was discovering with my church family as the project progressed. Almost from the beginning I have been preaching on and from the material, and, even though the book is complete, we are still exploring it. The depth of the insights gained is phenomenal.
Actually publishing the book was a learning experience also. Publishers for self-publication are everywhere, but I was not prepared for the amount of graphic layout, proofreading, and copy-editing that I had to do. I did find an independent copy editor to help, which was a tremendous blessing.
BD: Does this book reflect any of your own spiritual journey?
EAS: Only in the appendix. With my interest in the deeper spiritual significance of the Jewish traditions, customs, and Sanctuary / Temple services I learned a lot of new and interesting bits of information. I try to share some of these insights in the appendixes. So, while the book does not reflect my personal spiritual journey, writing it has certainly impacted and enriched my experience. I am glad I invested the time to put it together.
BD: Do you have plans to write other books?
EAS: Given the time I would like to put together a collection of the sermons I have preached on the Gospels, that grew out of writing The Gospel “Lite”, as a kind of commentary. These would definitely reflect how the Gospel, via The Gospel “Lite”, has impacted my life and ministry. I have also entertained the idea of developing a companion study guide to The Gospel “Lite”, possibly incorporating the insights I have gained, if God wills.
I have also thought about a similar project on the Tales of the Hebrew Kings, the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, another Bible area where there is a lot of duplication and overlap with significant details in alternative accounts. Incorporating the appropriate Psalms in their historical context could also be enriching.
When you think of it, the Bible is one story, but it is presented as a collection of 66 ancient books that are not exactly in chronological order. Could the material be arranged as one continuous story, and still preserve its unique character as the Word of God? It might be an interesting exercise.
BD: A lot of research and time must have gone into writing this where you weaved the four Gospel stories together into one continuous chronological narrative, removing duplication, and yet preserving all the details and nuances of the different writers. How long did it take you, did you have to do extra research, etc?
EAS: Writing The Gospel “Lite” was a three year adventure. Getting the book published took an additional year, so it turned out to be a much bigger project than I originally anticipated.
The obvious first step was to arrange the various related passages in a way I could compare them. While the basic chronological timeline is an area that has been thoroughly researched in the past, reconciling the internal chronology of each event, reconstructing stories and conversations that were remembered differently by the various writers, forced me into a much deeper study of the original texts, and the culture of the times than I had expected. Much like a lawyer piecing together the testimonies of various witnesses I had to do a little detective work, factor in human nature and try to put myself into the Gospel writers’ shoes, so to speak, even though I was not attempting an actual translation. I found it important to understand the political and spiritual climate of the times, as well as the actual geography of Palestine, the distance between the places the Gospels mention, and the travel modes and customs of the day. It also helped to have actually visited Israel and experienced the life and land for myself.
I also found it necessary to consult a variety of commentaries to be sure that I was being true to the intent of the Author and His witnesses. I wanted to be sure that my work merely enhanced our core understandings of Jesus life and ministry, rather than changing the message.
BD: Who do you think would most benefit from your book?
EAS: I truly believe that any student or reader of the Gospel story should have a copy of The Gospel “Lite”. In schools where courses on the Gospels are taught, The Gospel “Lite” should be required reading. It does not replace a study of the individual Gospel accounts, as each of the Gospel writers was addressing their target audience, with their own specific theme or objective in mind, but The Gospel “Lite” is different. It has no specific theme or target audience imposed on the retelling of Christ’s story. Because of this, the reader comes away with yet another, different perspective on the Person, life, and teachings of the most important figure to have ever graced our planet. It is my fervent hope that anyone reading The Gospel “Lite” will receive as great a blessing from reading it as I received from writing it.
The Gospel “Lite” is available from Amazon, Barnes ‘n Noble, and in many independent Christian bookstores. It is available in paperback, hardback, or electronic versions. You can also view some samples of the material on TheGospelLite.info. For more information visit TheGospelLite.com