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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Gospel ‘According to Homer and Virgil’: Cento and Canon
Sandnes, Karl Olav

Leiden: Brill, 2011 pp. xii + 280. $146.00

Series Information
Supplements to Novum Testamentum, 138


Description: In the fourth century C.E. some Christians paraphrased the stories about Jesus' life in the style of classical epics. Imitating the genre of centos, they stitched together lines taken either from Homer (Greek) or Virgil (Latin). They thus created new texts out of the classical epics, while they still remained fully within the confines of their style and vocabulary. It is the aim of this study to put these attempts into a historical and rhetorical context. Why did some Christians rewrite the Gospel stories in this way, and what came out of this? On the basis of these Christian centos, it … read moreis natural to address the view held by some scholars, namely that New Testaments narratives are imitations of the epics.

Subjects: Greco-Roman Literature, Literature

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Review by Dennis R. MacDonald
Published 9/4/2011
Citation: Dennis R. MacDonald, review of Karl Olav Sandnes, The Gospel ‘According to Homer and Virgil’: Cento and Canon, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2011).


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