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The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies Provides a comprehensive survey of Biblical scholarship in a variety of disciplines.



Gospels

Richard A. Burridge

1. Introduction

It might be thought that a basic question such as what the gospels actually are from a literary point of view would have been one of the first things for biblical scholars to sort out and agree about. Yet the history of the last century or more of critical study is one in which the pendulum has swung back and forth—from a biographical approach to the gospels to considering them to be unique, and then back to biography again.

In order to answer the question of the genre of the gospels properly, it is necessary to understand two key areas: the critical theory of genre and the kinds of literature contemporary with the gospels within the Graeco-Roman and Jewish worlds around the first century. Therefore, we shall look first at genre theory and then sketch a brief historical overview of scholarly approaches to the gospels; this will lead to the recently developing consensus that the gospels are a form of ancient biography and some current issues of debate and future directions of research.

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Oxford University Press

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