My friends are too well-mannered to ask why I should attempt to write a single ‘amalgamated’ gospel using a kind of patchwork of material from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I have learned, since I have finished it, that both Eusebius and a Syrian named Tatian had, many years ago, already attempted such a strategy.
Though the result of their attempts were popular, the Church did not approve. For one reason, the existence of several writers giving their own accounts added to the credibility of each as independent witnesses. As for my own attempt, more frequent questions have been asked about my use of blank verse. Are there not versions and translation enough? Does not the wish to write rhythmically confuse the meaning? Is not the abandonment of chapters and verses a road to further confusion?
My consistent answer to all these questions is yet more confusing and unsatisfactory. ‘I’m sorry. I have written verse, on and off for one reason and another, all my life.’
Presenting the gospels rhythmically took me four years to complete and it was for me more than an academic exercise. The task brought the life of Jesus and the relevance of his message closer to me. It became, as much as anything else, a way of staunching the wound of a personal tragedy.
My wife, Pat, lived with dementia during the latter part of her life. During this period, and after she died in 2014, I turned to the only place of comfort I knew: my faith. It was this faith that she re-enforced, daily, by the way she lived during sixty-two wonderful years of our happy marriage.
If anyone, or any group, for any reason, finds it supports their own belief or commitment as Christians, I give it to them gladly. If it is of no use to that end, I beg them to be rid of it. For those who would like to try it, my voice and the text are here, side by side.
My only word of warning is to suggest that the listener does not exceed at a sitting more than one of the twenty-three sections in which the work is divided. Only the parables, (or at least twenty-seven of them) have I rhymed. Printed copies of these are available for sale in book form: but they are, of course, already included in this website version of the gospel freely available.
From John Alan Davis, near his ninetieth birthday in the Year of Our Lord 2019.
You may access the material on this website without charge, but we would ask you to consider making a donation to ‘The Alzheimer’s Society’ as they campaign for change, fund research to find a cure, and support people and their carers living with dementia today.
‘The Poet’s Gospel’ is supported by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Under their auspices this material will be made more widely available in various formats for use by individuals and groups in Lent 2021.