Saturday, February 11, 2012

Were the gospels anonymous?

John Moles 
Hengel does/did use the first argument you cite but others as well (e.g. the very rarity and distinctiveness of the traditional titles). As for the Ignatius (and others) argument, Hengel retorts that Christian writers could still do this in the period when the titles were undoubtedly known. The arguments on both sides seem to me finely balanced, unless of course one thinks one can find internal ‘self-inscriptions’ within the Gospels (as, for example, Bauckham thinks in the Fourth Gospel, with complicated numerological arguments which I can’t possibly assess). I just think the general assumption of anonymity is a little glib, especially considering the huge proportion of internally anonymous texts in the ancient world, even in relevant related genres like historiography and biography, only a tiny proportion of which were actually anonymous, naming normally being conveyed by existing reader knowledge or by the titulus (whether on papyrus or codex).

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