Richard Burridge on the Gospels as Biographies

The Jesus Memoirs

Richard Burridge’s What are the Gospels: A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography (Cambridge University Press, 1992) is probably the main reason why the majority opinion of New Testament scholars think that the Gospels were ancient bibliographies. He begins by lamenting the lack of consensus in his day about the type of literature the Gospels embody: are they examples of a philosopher-vita, Socratic Dialogues, historical monograph, dramatic history, novel, tragi-comedy, or biographies (22-24). He admits, “as someone with a classical background, I was unimpressed with the arguments put forward by New Testament scholars, especially in America, to demonstrate the biographical genre of the gospels. Therefore a negative result was expected, exposing the biographical hypothesis as untenable. However, as the work has developed, I have become increasingly convinced that… it is indeed the right one and that the gospels are part of the genre of ancient βίος [Life] literature” (105-6).

In his preliminary work on genre, he…

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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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