Richard Burridge’s What Are the Gospels— Third Edition

Richard Burridge’s What Are the Gospels— Third Edition November 3, 2018

First of all, kudos to Carey Newman and Baylor Press for producing this third edition of Richard Burridge’s now classic study entitled What Are the Gospels? which first appeared as an SNTS monograph in the early 90s and helped produce a sea change in the field’s assessment of whether the Gospels are like ancient biographies or not. The answer is— most now think they are. The reason for grabbing a copy of this edition are several: 1) there is now some 100 plus pages of assessment of the reaction to the thesis since 2004 when the second edition of this study came out, a sort of Forschungsberichte by Burridge. The book then is quite up to speed and up to date now; 2) it also includes various essays by Burridge done along the way that are of relevance, including his discussion of whether Acts is of a different genre than Luke’s Gospel, and whether it matters. Burridge argues Acts is a biographical monograph, noting how historical monographs and ancient biographies often overlap or hybridize in antiquity when it comes to content. I would prefer to simply say Acts is an ancient historical monograph. It does not, for example, say anything of note about the deaths of its two most prominent human figures— Peter and Paul, which can hardly be left out of a biography. I am more open to the notion that Lukes Gospel is some sort of hybrid biography-monograph, but focusing on ‘the things that happened among us’ with an especially focus on Jesus, revealed through his ‘things’, his words and deeds. But I do not wish to quibble. Burridge’s book is a standard and exemplary resource for historical research on the Gospels, and I’m very grateful for it being put forth yet again for a new generation of readers. At over 500 pages, it will keep the reader engrossed and busy for a long time. The only other SNTS Cambridge monograph that has had this sort of impact and lifespan that I know of, is one which emerged a decade before Burridge’s— my Women in the Ministry of Jesus, which as was the case with Burridge’s monograph, was my doctoral dissertation.


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