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What Are the Gospels?: A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography (The Biblical Resource Series) Paperback – August 9, 2004
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"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."
"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."
Catholic Biblical Quarterly
"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."
Journal of Biblical Literature
"This volume ought to end any legitimate denials of the canonical Gospels' biographical character. It has made its case."
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Top Customer Reviews
Richard Burridge begins by discusses genre, how it develops and evolves. He offers a dozen or so characteristics by which we can judge the genre of a book. No one item by itself proves that a given book belongs to a certain genre, he argues.
Following a few longish sections that establish his methods of analysis, Burridge introduces ten works that belong to the category of Graeco-Roman bioi, five from before the time of Christ, five from shortly after. Applying the criteria he mentions earlier to these works, he establishes what an ancient biography was really like. Then he considers the Synoptic Gospels, concluding that they clearly fit into this category. Next he performs the same operation with the Gospel of John, and concludes that it is also an example of ancient biography.
I think Burridge proves his case, that the canonical Gospels do belong to the category of ancient bioi, or biography. (Be prepared for a few words of Greek in the text.) But what does that mean to call the Gospels "biography?" Among the examples of Bioi he considers are Tacitus' Agricola, a sober account of a Roman general written by his son in law a few years after his death, and Apollonius of Tyana, a tall tale loosely based on a New Age guru that talks about various breeds of dragon in India, and was written more than a hundred years after the alleged life it portrays. So the simple fact that a work belongs to the category of bioi, does not prove that it is true.
Burridge notes however that Apollonius is rather on the fringe of the genre. In some ways, the Gospels are closer to Agricola.Read more ›
The intent of this book is not to prove the historicity of Gospels, but to prove their genre. By establishing their genre, then we can better understand the intent of the authors.
The well reasoned conclusion in Burridge's book is: the Gospels fit the ancient genre of biography.
In doing so he discusses a lot about genre and analysis (this section was a bit tedious for me, but it was thorough). In all of the discussion and examples we learn how the ancient biographies are much different from modern ones. This is a key point, because I think much of the debates and criticisms of the gospels are done from the perspective of a modern biographical viewpoint. The ancients wrote biographies differently than those that are written today. But this does not make them more or less true. It is a matter of emphasis. Today we want to know the details about dates, eye color, and a year by year accounting of events. The ancients were more selective in their biographies, and often focused on character not a chronological "play by play" of a person's life. The ancient biographers did not just write to catalogue facts about a person, they often wrote to demonstrate why or why not we should emulate their subject. Moderns too have such motives, and even biases, but they are often less up front about them. In many ways the ancients are superior in this regard, because it makes it easier to distinguish between data and commentary.Read more ›
Here is Dr. Burridge's reply: "I'm glad to hear that you feel that the scholarship helps with your ministry - this is indeed the driving force behind most of my writing."
I humbly invite those who are keen on correct doctrinal teachings and preachings to submit once again to the study of the Gospels and grasp the book. He himself was to come back to the Gospels having written a massive monograph: WHAT ARE THE GOSPELS? to help his personal struggle in spiritual life.
The monograph is a groundbreaking study in the study of the Gospels. He is a classicist turned New Testament scholar. His graduate study in classic was done in Oxford, and the doctorate in Nottingham. He aptly demonstrates that the Gospels are a kind of ancient "Bioi." Find what the ancient "Bioi" with contemporary biographies. The technical work has been strongly condensed in FOUR JESUS, ONE GOSPELS?: A SYMBOLIC READING.
I am really happy to find the popular volume, since the explanation are employing the most popular literary and visual art works--as C. S. Lewis' NARNIA and Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS. Recently I wrote a paper for an academic journal on how to read the Bible with imagination, and I was helped by Tolkien's LOTR. And Dr. Burridge aptly provides me with samples.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Richard Burridge's GENRE HYPOTHESIS is somewhat far fetched, even for ecclesiastical elites, let alone ordinary people. Read morePublished on July 13, 2013 by Donald Smith
Book review ratings should be based on trying to measure the difference between:
1 - What the author was supposed to do
2 - What the... Read more
N T Wright has said that anyone, from now on, who wants to tackle the problem of what genre the gospels belong to will have to tackle this book first.
And no wonder. Read more