I love the story of the Inklings, a loosely defined group of writers who met often to read drafts of current projects to each other. The most famous members of the group were Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but there were others. Sometimes they would offer suggestions to each other, and sometimes they would listen to those suggestions. Each had a distinctive voice. Tolkien and Lewis shared a common faith, wrote out of that faith, but had very different styles.
I thought of them when I realized the other night that there was another group of famous writers who spent some time together in Rome. Paul, Mark, and Luke were all in Rome at the same time. Between them, these writers are credited with sixteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. It’s possible that Peter was there at the same time, adding in two more books.
Since I realized this, my mind has been running through the conversations. I’ve pictured them sitting on benches in front of the place Paul lived under house arrest. They take turns reading sections.
Luke reads the section in Acts where Paul and Mark’s cousin Barnabas get into an argument about Mark’s abandoning them. After Luke finishes, Mark turns to Paul and says “You know, Barnabas never talked about that argument. He said that the two of you disagreed about something. He never could say anything mean. He was always encouraging.”
Paul reads parts of the letters he’s writing to Colossae and Ephesus. Peter nods. Later he’ll say “just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”
Mark reads the section about a young man running away when Jesus is arrested. He says, “Is it okay to talk about losing my clothes?” The soldier Paul is chained to just smiles.
The pictures of these four talking in my imagination make me smile.