The Birth of the Gospels as Biographies: With Analyses of Two Challenging Pericopae
Meyer, Peggy Manning, translator
Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 2017 pp. x + 174. $28.00
Analecta Biblica Studia, 10
Description: In the cultural context of the 1st century of our era, to write a life of Jesus--what we call a Gospel--constituted an apparently impossible challenge to overcome. For it was not simply a matter of being inspired by the biblical precedent, the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Samuel and David from sacred writers. It was also necessary to confront the Greco-Roman genre of the biography, whose protagonists were exclusively great men, who enjoyed an excellent societal recognition. Yet, Jesus, rejected by his coreligionists because of his death on the cross as a blasphemer and seducer of the people, could not a priori expect a biography of this genre. The synoptic Gospels have, as a consequence, reconfigured the biographical genre of the era by originally using the phenomenon of the recognition. Behind the birth of the Gospel genre, there is thus the invention of a narrative model, whose focal point is the recognition of Christ in his Easter paradox. This model is the raison detre of the narratives attributed to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Literature
Review by Alexander Thompson
Citation: Alexander Thompson, review of Jean-NoŽl Aletti, The Birth of the Gospels as Biographies: With Analyses of Two Challenging Pericopae, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2019).
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