Charles H. Talbert on the Gospels as Biographies

The Jesus Memoirs

Charles H. Talbert (What is a Gospel: the Genre of the Canonical Gospels [London: SPCK, 1978) helped to revive the case that the Gospels were basically equivalent to ancient bioi (the plural of bios or “life”). Talbert defines a bios as a “prose narrative about a person’s life, presenting supposedly historical facts which are selected to reveal the character or essence of the individual, often with the purpose of affecting the behavior of the reader” (17). It differed from historiography in its focus (i.e. an individual subject versus the primary influences in the social or political arena), its type of narrative (i.e. individual anecdotes or interconnected narratives with cause and effort), and its function (i.e. encomium or peripatetic praise, informative Alexandrian biographies, romances that entertain or stir the emotions, and histories that instruct politicians or please the citizens) (16-17).

Talbert challenges the form critics directly on their arguments that the Gospels cannot be ancient biographies due to their mythic structure, their…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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