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If the Gospels, our four Gospels in the NT canon, are biographies in genre what does that mean for history? Craig Keener in what will become a major milestone Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels (#ad), addresses this question with circumspect analysis and cautious conclusions.
I have now worked through this 500 pager and think his conclusions are worth posting here as I encourage every theological library to purchase a copy of this book:
Approaches - Gospels - Error - Gospels - Standards
Traditional skeptical and fundamentalist approaches to the Gospels have generally committed the same error: judging the Gospels by standards foreign to their original genre.
Keener’s argument is rooted in the conclusion that the Gospels are to be set in the “biography” genre and I agree, in the main, with that, though the Gospels themselves begin with them as “gospels” (telling the redemptive story of Jesus). Keener finesses the meaning of biography precisely in that direction but his interest — as always — is whether the Gospels are historically reliable. His conclusions:
Biographies - Figure - Lives - Poets
They are full biographies of a publicly known figure, rather than brief lives of poets.
They are from the most information-based period in the development of ancient biography, namely, the period of the early empire. Biographies in this period are generally developed beyond less historically minded earlier encomia, yet they also predate later hagiography. Comparing different biographies from this period about the same figure illustrates these biographies’ anchoring in information.
Gospels - Memory - Accurate - Information
The Gospels were composed within living memory of their subject, making substantive accurate information likely.
The most respected leaders in the traditioning community were eyewitnesses.
Leaders - Traditioning - Community - Disciples - People
Not only were the most respected leaders in the traditioning community eyewitnesses; they were also disciples, who of all people would work hardest from the start to preserve their mentor’s legacy and teaching.
Something not explored in this volume,...
Wake Up To Breaking News!
A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a Government intervention.