Friday, October 15, 2010

Scholarly Opinion On The Gospels' Genre

In his recent commentary on Matthew, Grant Osborne writes the following about scholarly opinion on the genre of the gospels:

"The current consensus is that the closest parallel is Greco-Roman biography, but that should probably be widened to include Jewish as well as Hellenistic biographies." (Matthew [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010], p. 30)

Here are the comments of some other New Testament scholars:

"Lemcio's work coheres strongly with the general, though quite recent, acceptance in Gospels scholarship that, generically, the Gospels are biography - or, more precisely, they are biographies (bioi) in the sense of ancient Greco-Roman biography." (Richard Bauckham, Jesus And The Eyewitnesses [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2006], p. 276)

"Readers throughout most of history understood the Gospels as biographies (Stanton 1989a: 15-17), but after 1915 scholars tried to find some other classification for them, mainly because these scholars compared ancient and modern biography and noticed that the Gospels differed from the latter (Talbert 1977: 2-3; cf. Mack 1988: 16n.6). The current trend, however, is again to recognize the Gospels as ancient biographies. The most complete statement of the question to date comes from a Cambridge monograph by Richard A. Burridge." (Craig Keener, A Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew [Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999], p. 17)

In an email earlier this year, Michael Licona told me that Richard Burridge recently mentioned to him that the scholarly trend is toward seeing the gospels as biographies rather than "literary inventions" or "myth".

1 comment:

  1. It would not be hard for one interested to pick up a copy of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, written at the same time as the Gospels, and gauge for himself the plausibility of the thesis. I believe it will stand up, although the truth of the Gospels does not depend on their being biography in either an ancient or a modern sense.