Daily Archives: 2007-02-18 05:20:40 UTC

Ancient Novels and the Gospels

The following notes are taken from pages 74-76 of Mary Ann Tolbert’s Sowing the Gospel: Mark’s World in Literary-Historical Perspective (1989). A wonderful collection of ancient novels can be found in Reardon’s Collected Ancient Greek Novels (1989). Chariton, Xenophon of Ephesus, Achilles Tatius, Longus and others make fascinating reading as they bring us closer to the literary culture in which our gospel authors themselves were embedded. Modern novels are about psychological motives and development. Not so ancient novels. They were about plot and action and the principles of character illustrated through the action. (Tolbert also cites Kermode, whom I feel a little embarrassed to mention again here for who knows how many times now.)

Following is a summary of the characteristics of ancient novels that must affect our views of the gospels, and after the summary I will list a few possible implications. read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 10

(P.S. on chapter 9: another interesting thing I learned in the previous chapter was that the notion of “translating” a text among some ancients was nothing like our concept. Josephus says he was going to make a translation of the Hebrew scriptures, no more or less, but of course he does do much more and less in his complete retelling of them. That point pretty much allows anyone to interpret Papias’s claim of Matthew being a translation from an original Aramaic as meaning anything.)

10. Models of Oral Tradition

Bauckham attempts in this chapter to place the eyewitnesses within the context of the scholarly models of the processes of transmission of gospel traditions. read more »