The Blended Gospels
The Jesus Story is a seamless narrative woven from the different perspectives of the four Gospel writers–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Gospels were placed one after another in the part of the Bible called The New Testament. The first three are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels because they describe events from a similar point of view, as contrasted with that of John. Each Gospel was written to a particular audience to portray a unique aspect of Jesus’ life and teaching. When these four reports are combined into a complete flowing narrative, we have the chronological order of every known fact of Jesus’ life. By omitting duplication, the four books fit together perfectly. The result is not a literary curiosity but a more convincing and readable story than any of the four Gospels alone.
This masterpiece, which took 23 years to complete, is true to the original Greek and yet easy to read. As for organization, the story is divided into seven sections—Jesus’s preparation, each of the four years of his ministry, his final week, and his death, resurrection, and ascension. Between these sections the story flows without the distraction of chapter and verse references, subject headings, footnotes, cross-references and commentary. You’ll be able to read the story of Jesus as you would a novel.
Design and Printing
The book will have a classic, woven cotton hardcover and a ribbon for marking your place. The binding will be stitched not glued, allowing pages to lay flat when open and remain durable over time. The font is easy to read and the paper is the same quality as you’d find in classical books—not what is normally used in Bibles. The top edge will have gold gilding—customary with older books so that when it sits on a shelf, the gold can be seen from above: the gild also seals the book, keeping out dust and moisture. Sized at 4 ½ by 6 ¾ and less than three hundred pages in length—it will be small enough to comfortably fit into a backpack or purse.
Because the book is a limited edition with no plans to reprint, every copy will be sequentially numbered. There is not now, nor has there ever been, a blended Gospel laid out to read like this. Nor has there ever been such a high-quality cover and interior. This book is printed to be enjoyed for years, if not generations.
This Unique Translation
Since the second century AD, roughly 170 blended or harmonized versions of the Gospels have been published, a number of very good ones appearing in the twentieth century. But the blended version used in The Jesus Story is unique for several reasons.
First, this version utilizes the “interweaving” method of harmonizing the four Gospels. Rather than laying out the four texts separately in parallel columns or horizontal lines, they are carefully interwoven to read as one complete story. Other versions of interwoven Gospels are often selective. When the Gospel writers report the same event, other versions may use the account with the most information while minimizing or omitting the contributions of the others. But wherever possible this version uses every word from every Gospel in order to provide a complete story.
Second, this version has been thoroughly authenticated using English and Greek texts. Though they consulted more than twenty English translations, the authors, Johnston Cheney and Stanley Ellisen, also checked the integrity of their work against the Greek text of the United Bible Society of 1966. The process of translating and authenticating was painstakingly and prayerfully completed over a period of twenty-three years. The fascinating story of Cheney and Ellisen’s work is summarized below.
Third, the chronology of events in this narrative reflects the authors' scholarly conviction that Jesus’ earthly ministry covered a period of about four years instead of the traditionally accepted three years. The readings in this book are organized on this basis.
As you read through The Jesus Story you can be sure you are getting the whole story—every detail of Jesus’ life and ministry as originally provided by the four Gospel writers, yet skillfully blended together into one narrative.
(click the image to view larger)
The four interlocking circles encompassed by a larger circle represent the four Gospel writers blended together into a single story.
Gustave Dorè’s Art
I’ve always had a fondness for Gustave Dore’s Life of Jesus. One of the most prodigious artists of the 19th century, his work was often featured in Bibles and I thought it would be a nice addition to The Jesus Story. I hope you like the twenty images I’ve chosen.
The Production Company
The Jesus Story will be printed and bound by RR Donnelley, the largest and one of the most prestigious printers in the world. RR Donnelley was recognized with 41 awards in the 2014 Gold Ink Award competition, one of the print industry's most prestigious competitions. The Gold Ink Award winners were selected from approximately 1,000 entries submitted in nearly 50 different categories. Winning pieces surpassed their competitors based on print quality, technical difficulty and overall visual effect. A panel of distinguished graphic arts professionals judged entries over the course of four days.
I’m excited to have this award winning company produce The Jesus Story, and I’m confident it will be printed and bound with the utmost skill and precision. Eric Webber, my print broker, helped me identify them as the best printer for The Jesus Story.
The Design Team
After searching for a team to design the cover and interior layout I decided to go with Faceout Studio. This award winning creative team, located in beautiful Bend, Oregon, has won national awards for numerous book covers. They are considered the best-of-the-best by their contemporaries. And I was privileged to work with creative genius, Emily Weigel, who came up with the logo, cover, and the interior layout.
About the Rewards
I tried to come up with rewards that would enhance your experience with The Jesus Story and make it easier to give it to a family member or friend.
The Jesus Experiment: If you’re someone who wants to experience the life of Jesus in a refreshing way, you’ll love this book. But it’s not a book to be read and placed on a shelf. I would encourage you to read it quickly-in a week or two-and then go back through it one week at a time with a friend, family member or small group. Each week you’ll follow Jesus into a different situation-like Gethsemane where he faced his fears-and discover what he felt, thought, said and did. The following week when you face a similar situation-like fear-you’ll ask yourself what am I feeling, thinking, saying and doing. You’ll then ask God to bring your life into alignment with Christ. At the end of each week you’ll determine whether or not following Jesus closely resulted in a more abundant life. This would be a great companion to The Jesus Story.
Copies numbered between 100 and 299: I suspect there are some who would like to secure a copy of the book with a low print-run number. In order to provide that I’m offering two rewards which will guarantee you’ll get a low number. Future versions of The Jesus Story won’t be numbered so these will be unique volumes for collectors or as a special gift.
Jesus Christ the Greatest Life: Compiled by Robert A. Meltebeke this volume provides study notes, commentary, maps, chronological charts and much more to help you understand the historical, geographical and cultural setting of the life of Christ. The biblical text is the same as The Jesus Story but is formatted for study.
Solid walnut sleeve with logo on face: Built in the USA with walnut from the groves of southern Wisconsin. Each board is handpicked and constructed by tradesmen and women in Forest Lake MN. Traditional joinery and assemblies hand built with softened edges, finished in a controlled atmosphere to achieve the quality deserving of the literature this book-sleeve will carry.
The Man Behind The Jesus Story
Attending college in the early twentieth century, Johnston Cheney specialized in English, the humanities, public speaking, and Greek—where he showed exceptional skill—along with three years of Bible and theology.
When he returned from World War II Cheney devoted himself to studying the Gospels in Greek. During this time he discovered that the three different accounts of Jesus’ baptism in the Greek New Testament could be blended into a single narrative without leaving out any of the words. Soon he began applying this process to other parts of the four Gospels. Growing in his devotion to the task of compiling Christ’s life into a single narrative, he memorized nearly all of the four Gospels in the original Greek language from the Textus Receptus.
After twenty years of work he showed his blended translation to Dr. Earl Radmacher, then president of Western Theological Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Impressed with Cheney’s keen ability in the Greek of the Gospels, Radmacher connected him with seminary professor Stanley Ellisen, Th.D., a scholar in the life of Christ. Ellisen was similarly impressed with Cheney’s unique translation. The two men labored side by side on the project for three more years. Ellisen’s expertise as a scholar and editor proved to be invaluable to the book’s first edition.
Shortly after completing his work, Cheney suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak. Assured that his book would soon be published, he penned his final words to his family in his own hand: “I love you all.” Then he passed into the presence of the Lord whose story he had labored so long to tell in a simple and seamless way.
The first edition of Cheney and Ellisen’s blended Gospels was published by Western Seminary in 1969 under the title The Life of Christ in Stereo. A subsequent edition, entitled The Greatest Story, was published by Multnomah Books in 1994. These first two editions of the book were laid out as traditional Bibles and are now out of print.
But one man was not content to allow Cheney and Ellisen’s excellent translation to disappear. Robert A. Meltebeke, Dr. of Ministry, an acquaintance of Ellisen and Radmacher, acquired the rights to the blended translation. Enlisting Ellisen’s help, Meltebeke published another edition of the work entitled Jesus Christ, The Greatest Life (Paradise Publishing, 1999), including a leader’s guide and study guide. Shortly after completing his work on this edition, Dr. Ellisen passed away.
In early 2015 Bill Perkins approached Bob Meltebeke about creating a unique version of the blended Gospels in which the four Gospels could be read like a novel, without chapter and verse references, footnotes, endnotes or commentary. Bill's desire to publish such a book flowed from his monthly reading of the blended Gospels for 36 consecutive months. Dr. Meltebeke agreed that such a version would be unprecedented and would provide readers with a unique way to experience the story of Jesus. And so this version of the blended Gospels came to life.
White Horse Press
When I approached Bob Meltebeke, the owner of the blended Gospel manuscript, about licensing it, he insisted it be licensed to a non-profit rather than a for-profit company. He also wanted no royalty payments made from the profits of the book. For that reason the non-profit I lead, White Horse Ministries, formed a doing business as (DBA) called White Horse Press.
When looking for a videographer I wanted someone with an artistic touch whose work would move people. I’m fortunate to have found nineteen-year-old, Micah Bartel, from Lake Oswego, Oregon. I’m blown away by the video. He did an amazing job and made the process fun.
Risks and challenges
As the author of over 20 published books I’m well acquainted with the publishing world. While most of my books were published by major publishing houses, I have successfully self-published numerous books. Because of this I’m acquainted with the challenges of editing, cover design and book layout, printing and distribution. I’ve already dealt with each of these potential challenges by having the book edited, the cover and layout completed and the printer lined up for the work. Once the Kickstarter campaign is complete I should be able to quickly get the book printed.
The one potential delay I can’t control involves when the printer will actually get to The Jesus Story. This is because the printer needs to put the book in line to be printed. They can’t do this until the campaign is completed and we know how many books to print. Once I let the printer know the size of the print-run, The Jesus Story will be assigned a print date. I hope to have the book printed and to the fulfillment company by the middle or end of October so it can be shipped in time for Christmas. However, there may be print delays over which I have no control. Once the campaign is completed, I’ll keep sponsors updated during the process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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