For unlimited access to Class Notes, a Class+ subscription is required.
March 12, 12
The Emergence of “Christian” Literature: The Gospel Genre
What is a Gospel and how should we read it?
- Until recently, gospels regarded as Sui generis, unique genre with
unique characteristics. - of early Christianity
- This idea seems to be at odds with what gospel writers
themselves thought they were going – example from Luke 1:1-4
- Also, in order for a reader or hearer to understand a text, I must
be possible at least to a certain extent to put it into some
category of meaning. – A set of expectations to the reader –
allows the reader to understand what they are reading (genre)
-Literary genre: group of texts that demonstrate coherent and
habitual relationship or arrangement of literary features (style,
form, content, purpose, or function).
-Literary form: Basic components or elements of the genres that
give them structure.
- The gospels didn’t come out of “nowhere” as a totally new and
unique form of literature – no one would have been able to read
them, if that were the case.
- The gospels existed as part of literary genre- they came out of a
certain literary context.
- The word gospel – means “good news”
- From Greek euaggelion (evangelist, evangelize)
-Includes idea of proclamation – used in context of imperial cult
(worship of the emperors), piece of imperial good news (victory,
birth of an heir) blazed across empire.
- Mark: transforms oral proclamation about Jesus into a literary
work – author of Mark primarily responsible for eventual us of
term as designation for genre of text. (Mattew: “account,” biblos;
-“Gospel” not designated as literary form within the New
Testament texts – used as a technical term to define either Jesus
and what is doing or the proclamation of Jesus more specifically,
- Turning an oral proclamation into a literary work.
The Genre of the Gospels
- Mark starts off with Baptism.
- How character develops – influences – not something from Mark’s
- Doesn’t talk about personality – someone’s perspective.
- Time flow – chronological order – not present.
- Gospels can be considered to be ancient biographies (emphasis on
the ancient – not modern biographies!) – called “lives” in Greek