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date: 16 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The basic question of what the gospels actually are from a literary point of view should have been one of the first things biblical scholars sorted out and agreed about. However, 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. This article first looks at genre theory and then sketches a brief historical overview of scholarly approaches to the gospels. This leads 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.

Keywords: gospel, critical theory, genre, Graeco-Roman world, Jewish world, ancient biography

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