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Review on Rivers of Living Water -- A Visual Harmony of the Four Gospels

"Rivers of Living Water" by Yueh H. Goffin, is a one-of-a-kind Gospel harmony that couples both synopsis scholarship and beautiful artistic simplicity. The book focuses on Jesus' Galilean ministry while Ms. Goffin's second project will focus on Jesus' Judean ministry and Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. While this Gospel harmony's strength is its presentation, the scholarship behind it must be sound to warrant usefulness. Therefore, this review will look at Rivers' scholarship validity before discussing the artistic aspects and usefulness.

In comparing the text of Ms. Goffin's work, the order of the harmony is her own scholarship. She uses the RSV and while several synopses use this translation, her division of the text into pericopes also differs subtly. Neither difference is extreme nor unfounded. For instance, where most synopses link each of the Gospel openings together in one presentation, Ms. Goffin orders them as if they were building blocks of a story: the story of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. Likewise, Ms. Goffin's detail in naming pericopes is greater than most other works. For instance, rather than simply listing Jesus' circumcision in the temple (Lk 2:21-38), she notes when He is named and then lists His presentation. And, finally, the notations used in most scholarly synopses are absent in this presentation; however, lexical study is not the intent of this text. All this is to point out that Ms. Goffin's synopsis of the Gospel is not simply a copy of others' work. It builds upon their work. While this review has focused on the scholarly side thusfar, the truly unique nature of this book comes in its presentation, which Ms. Goffin has painstakingly undertaken over the past several years as a labor of love for God.

Considering the solid foundation of the Gospel text in this book, the unique artistic nature of Rivers must be considered. The visual presentation of the Gospel accounts is where Ms. Goffin's most significantly unique contributions lie. The layout of the text is akin to a musical score. Whereas in music each line represents a note, Rivers' lines represent a Gospel author. The top line is Matthew, with following lines providing the text from Mark, then Luke and, finally, John. To further denote the different authors in the harmony, each author has an assigned color. Matthew is red, Mark orange, Luke blue and John green. If a word in a pericope resides in multiple Gospels, then the word spans each line and changes colors as it goes. This means, letters of words from all four Gospels look like a rainbow. This provides a unique and beautiful depiction of the Gospel harmonies. To think the author changed pens up to 16 times to create one letter is astounding. The only exception to this color scheme is found in the pericope titles, which are shown in solid purple. Where other Gospel harmonies develop complex processes and formats to compare the Gospels, Ms. Goffin has created a simple and beautifully artistic method of showing Gospel relationships. Through this unique and visually stimulating presentation, Gospel harmony and, thus, God's glory are emphasized.

Ms. Yueh Goffin has created a truly novel approach to Gospel harmony, and in the process shown her exemplary dedication to God and His Word. This book will be a blessing to readers and will help lay-people, and pastors dig deeper into the Word of God.

David Leaumont
MDiv-Biblical Studies (In progress)
Liberty Theological Seminary
June 26, 2010