The Genre of the Gospels: How the Consensus Changed (Part 1)

Part 1: A Sea Change Ultimately, the problem with identifying the genre of the synoptic gospels as Hellenistic biographies or Graeco-Roman histories is that these terms are insufficient to describe their form, genesis, and purpose. Published in 1989 by SCM Press, Studying the Synoptic Gospels remains one of the best resources for learning about the … Continue reading “The Genre of the Gospels: How the Consensus Changed (Part 1)”


The Secret of the Power Behind the Gospel Narrative (Charbonnel Continued)

This post continues my series on Nanine Charbonenel’s Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure De Papier but this time I will begin with a personal experience. I posted about it a couple of years ago under the title The Faith Trick. The experience was the realization that the power by which I was “transformed into a new person” … Continue reading “The Secret of the Power Behind the Gospel Narrative (Charbonnel Continued)”


How the Gospels Became History

We discuss here the second of three parts of the chapter about “scriptural fulfillments” in Nanine Charbonnel’s Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure de Papier . . . . . . The Jewish Scriptures spoke of times that were supposed to be fulfilled in coming days and in the text of the New Testament we read of those … Continue reading “How the Gospels Became History”


How Jewish Gospels Became Christian Gospels

This post follows on from A Midrashic Hypothesis for the Gospels . We are going through Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure de Papier by Nanine Charbonnel. All posts so far are archived at Charbonnel: Jesus Christ sublime figure de papier. Nanine Charbonnel [NC] at this point begins to study how the fictive figure of Jesus in the … Continue reading “How Jewish Gospels Became Christian Gospels”


The Gospel of Mark as a Dramatic Performance

If we are serious about the idea of expanding our horizons with interdisciplinary studies, even those of ancient theatre, there is much that is thought-provoking here. From time to time I encounter the idea that the Gospel of Mark was in some way related to dramatic performance or Greek tragedy. Mary Ann Beavis brings much … Continue reading “The Gospel of Mark as a Dramatic Performance”


Review, part 11. Comparing the Lives and Deaths of Aesop and Jesus (Litwa: How the Gospels Became History)

Chapter 11 of How the Gospels Became History again makes for fascinating reading as M. David Litwa explores in some depth the idea of the scapegoat in Greek myth as one part of the cultural and mythical context in which the gospels were written. The technical (Greek) term is pharmakos [link is to a brief … Continue reading “Review, part 11. Comparing the Lives and Deaths of Aesop and Jesus (Litwa: How the Gospels Became History)”


Review, part 3b (The Thesis) : How the Gospels Became History / Litwa

We arrive now at a point where I am beginning to find more agreement with, and renewed interest in, M. David Litwa’s thesis in How the Gospels Became History. Having dismissed Dennis MacDonald’s proposal that the gospels (in particular Gospel of Mark) were created intertextually with not only various Jewish books but also Greco-Roman ones … Continue reading “Review, part 3b (The Thesis) : How the Gospels Became History / Litwa”


Review, part 3a (Homer and the Gospels) : How the Gospels Became History / Litwa

M. David Litwa opens chapter 2, “A Theory of Comparisons”, of How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths, with the following epigraph: The issue of difference has been all but forgotten. —Jonathan Z. Smith It is all too easy to overlook differences, agreed. I seem to recall drawing questionable conclusions about the world’s … Continue reading “Review, part 3a (Homer and the Gospels) : How the Gospels Became History / Litwa”


Once More — Homer, History and the Gospels-Acts

I know some readers find it difficult to accept that our canonical gospels and Acts were seriously influenced by the epics of Homer, the Iliad and Odyssey. Here is something (two things, actually) to think about. We think of “history” as a genre of literature that is meant to convey the idea of facts, truth, … Continue reading “Once More — Homer, History and the Gospels-Acts”


Review, pt 1c: How the Gospels Became History / Litwa (Looking like history?)

Continuing from part 1b … M. David Litwa’s opening chapter of How the Gospels Became History is an overview of ancient history-writing looked like, including its frequent allowance of myth, and how the canonical gospels fit in with this type of literature. So far we have been moving slowly as we take note of what ancient … Continue reading “Review, pt 1c: How the Gospels Became History / Litwa (Looking like history?)”


Review, pt 1b: How the Gospels Became History / Litwa

In the first post we cited ancient authors on the meaning of myth.  Two more authors that M. David Litwa cites: A fable (mythos) is a fictitious story giving an image of truth . . . Aelius Theon, 1st C CE (Kennedy 2003. Progymnasmata) A myth aims at being a false tale, resembling a true … Continue reading “Review, pt 1b: How the Gospels Became History / Litwa”


Meaning of Midrash (Are the Gospels Midrash?)

We know that the gospels contain many stories that are based on Old Testament narratives. Jesus raising Jairus’s daughter is clearly developed on similar miracles by Elijah and Elisha; Jesus stilling the storm has rewoven core elements of the story of Jonah; the miraculous birth of Jesus finds its mirror opposites in the miraculous births … Continue reading “Meaning of Midrash (Are the Gospels Midrash?)”


Is “Son of Man” in the Gospels a mere idiom for “I”, the speaker?

Have recent posts here about two “son of man” sayings of Jesus missed their mark (claiming to be references to Daniel 7) if the term “son of man” was simply a common way for a speaker to refer to himself? Vermes argued that, in addition to being a normal term for “man”, the Aramaic bar … Continue reading “Is “Son of Man” in the Gospels a mere idiom for “I”, the speaker?”


How the Gospel of Mark Retrofitted Jesus into a Pre-Existing Christ Idea

The background to the following post is The Gospel of John as  a form of Jewish Messianism? (Part 2). It presumes some awareness of how in some Jewish quarters Daniel 7’s Son of Man was being interpreted in a way that led to controversial Jewish texts like the Similitudes of Enoch and the Gospel of … Continue reading “How the Gospel of Mark Retrofitted Jesus into a Pre-Existing Christ Idea”