The gospel is, as everyone knows, “good news.” What is too often nowadays forgotten is that, for news to be good, expectations must have been grim. The doctor telling me that I have every chance of living to see my grandchildren is “good news” only when I had been living in the shadow of a diagnosis of galloping morbidity. “Good news” is sunshine breaking through a wrack of ominous clouds, not the promise of another hour of sunshine on a beautiful afternoon. If it is to be “good,” the news of the gospel must therefore stand out against a background of exceedingly grim expectations. A pardon from the governor is, after all, “good news” only to a prisoner, and most especially to a prisoner who is pining and fretting through his last hour on death row. And the grim expectation against which the information related in the gospel stands out as good is, of course, certainty of damnation and the suffering of eternal torments in Hell. To read the gospel as gospel, a man’s eyes, nose and throat must be burning with the stinking fumes of brimstone. Otherwise it’s just a story.