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Richard Burridge’s acclaimed study of the Christian Gospels is significantly updated and expanded in this second edition. Here Burridge engages the field of Gospel studies over the last hundred years, arguing convincingly for viewing the Gospels as biographical documents of the sort common throughout the Graeco-Roman world. In pursuing the question of his book’s title, Burridge compares the work of the Christian evangelists with that of Graeco-Roman biographers.
Drawing on insights from literary theory, he demonstrates that the widespread view of the Gospels as unique is false and discusses what a properly “biographical” perspective means for Gospel interpretation. New to this second edition of What Are the Gospels? are a long final chapter detailing the recent paradigm shift in Gospel scholarship—a shift due in large part to this very book—a foreword by Graham Stanton, and an appendix on the absence of comparable early Jewish biographies.
“It is hard to imagine how anyone could invent something which is a literary novelty or unique kind of writing” (Page 12)
“secondary stage is when other writers begin to produce literature based consciously on the primary model” (Page 44)
“literary units of stories, anecdotes and sayings are the primary building blocks of all βίοι” (Page 138)
One of the hotly debated topics of recent years has been what type of literature the Gospels are. Richard Burridge reviews the data and discussion and proposes a solution. . . . This treatment of the questions will serve as a standard for future work.
—Religious Studies Review
Burridge’s book is the most comprehensive and lucid discussion of the genre of the Gospels yet undertaken. . . . This is a book that students of the Gospels cannot afford to avoid. . . . It is a truly astonishing tour de force — interdisciplinary biblical scholarship at its very best.
Burridge reexamines the old question of the genre of a Gospel. He situates it within the fluid genre of Graeco-Roman biography through a study exacting in terms of new methods, a wealth of data, and rigor. . . . This is an immensely learned volume. . . . It not only represents a superb survey of the topic but also breaks new ground.
—Catholic Biblical Quarterly
This volume ought to end any legitimate denials of the canonical Gospels’ biographical character. It has made its case.
—Journal of Biblical Literature