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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

How does one distinguish more from less ‘literary’ texts of the early Christian centuries? What does ‘literary’ mean in such contexts? The failure to address these basic questions of language and method is a weakness of many contemporary scholarly treatments of early Christian literature and literary texts. Rather than propose a single, generally applicable literary methodology for early Christian studies, this article attempts to bring some clarity to current discussions by supplying elements of a genealogy of terms and methods hitherto in use. By observing past approaches to the ‘letter’ of early Christian texts, one may be reminded of the substantial dependence of modern idioms on text-based, ‘literary’ knowledge, including literature on western, Latin, and Christian institutions.

Keywords: early Christian texts, literary texts, Christian literature, literary methodology

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