The publication of Richard Burridge’s What Are the Gospels? in 1992 inaugurated a transformation in Gospel studies by overturning the previous consensus about Gospel uniqueness. Burridge argued convincingly for an understanding of the Gospels as biographies, a ubiquitous genre in the Graeco-Roman world.
To establish this claim, Burridge compared each of the four canonical Gospels to the many extant Graeco-Roman biographies. Drawing on insights from literary theory, he demonstrated that the previously widespread view of the Gospels as unique compositions was false. Burridge went on to discuss what a properly "biographical" perspective might mean for Gospel interpretation, which was amply demonstrated in the revised second edition reflecting on how his view had become the new consensus.
This third, twenty-fifth anniversary edition not only celebrates the continuing influence of What Are the Gospels?, but also features a major new contribution in which Burridge analyzes recent debates and scholarship about the Gospels. Burridge both answers his critics and reflects upon the new directions now being taken by those who accept the biographical approach. This new edition also features as an appendix a significant article in which he tackles the related problem of the genre of Acts.
A proven book with lasting staying power, What Are the Gospels? is not only still as relevant and instructive as it was when first published, but will also doubtlessly inspire new research and scholarship in the years ahead.
Preface to the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition Foreword to the Second Edition Preface to the Second Edition Preface to the Original Edition Abbreviations [new to the 25th anniversary edition] Gospels and Biography, 2000-2018: A Critical Review and Implications for Future Research A. The Literary Theory of Genre B. Gospel Scholarship and Commentaries C. Gospel Genre and Audience D. The Genre of Acts E. Roman Catholic Reactions F. Biography and Historiography G. Further Implications for New Research Conclusion Critical Review Bibliography
PART ONE: THE PROBLEM 1. Historical Survey 2. Genre Criticism and Literary Theory 3. Genre Criticism and Graeco-Roman 4. Evaluation of Recent Debate
PART TWO: THE PROPOSED SOLUTION 5. Generic Features 6. The Generic Features of Early Graeco-Roman Bioi 7. The Generic Features of Later Graeco-Roman Bioi 8. The Synoptic Gospels 9. The Fourth Gospel 10. Conclusions and Implications 11. Reactions and Developments Appendix I: Analysis Charts of Verb Subjects Appendix II: Gospel Genre, Christological Controversy and the Absence of Rabbinic Biography Appendix III: The Genre of Acts—Revisited Select Bibliography Index of Passages Index of Names and Subjects
Richard Burridge is Visiting Professor of Biblical Interpretation at King's College London.
A paradigm shift within a field…implications of the paradigm shift he has initiated will continue to be debated for many years to come.
~Louise Lawrence, Conversations in Religion and Theology
I suspect that biblical scholarship might well divide into pre-Burridge and post-Burridge, such is the significance of his work.
~Ian Markham, First Things
The most comprehensive and lucid discussion of the genre of the Gospels yet undertaken…It is a truly astonishing tour de force—interdisciplinary biblical scholarship at its very best.
~Mark W.G. Stibbe, Biblical Interpretation
The proof of good scholarship is that it continues to have a lasting impact on the discipline—in this case the discipline of New Testament Studies. Richard Burridge’s critical work on ancient Graeco-Roman biographies and how our canonical Gospels fit into that sort of genre of literature was groundbreaking two decades ago, and is still relevant and important to our discussions of such matters today. The Gospels are not cleverly concocted myths, nor are they fractured fairy tales; they are instead historical studies focusing on the life and ministry of a genuine historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, revealing what sort of person he was, and what his character amounted to. This is a book every serious student of the New Testament should have in their libraries, especially now that we have the bonus of further reflections on the subject in a new Introduction.
~Ben Witherington III, Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary and Emeritus Doctoral Faculty, University of St Andrews, Scotland
A double delight—the original classic on the genre of the Gospels in its second edition plus an extensive review essay charting the fascinating story of its influence. The combination constitutes a highly readable resource bringing students up-to-date in the debate about the relationship of ancient biographies to both the Gospels and Acts and showing how the significance of that discussion continues to be immensely fruitful for the interpretation and appropriation of these texts.
~Andrew T. Lincoln, Emeritus Professor of New Testament, University of Gloucestershire
Just when you might think that Richard Burridge would have nothing more to say following his all-embracing, monumental presentation of the four Gospels as Graeco-Roman biography, think again. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition heaps even more arguments and incisive insights upon his massive trove of evidence. Once again, a ‘must read.’
~David P. Moessner, A. A. Bradford Chair of Religion, Texas Christian University
In enviably clear and elegant prose, Richard Burridge’s doctoral dissertation effectively dislodged the prevailing view that the gospels were an entirely new genre. Now, twenty-five years on, he has provided the original text with a thorough overview of the extent to which the ‘gospels as biography’ hypothesis has been taken up as the new scholarly consensus. The results are truly impressive and a fitting testament to one of the most significant scholarly publications of the last century.
~Helen K. Bond, Professor of Christian Origins, Director of the Centre for Christian Origins
Burridge’s book is a standard and exemplary resource for historical research on the Gospels.
~Ben Witherington III
Already a classic, Richard Burridge's What Are the Gospels? broke new ground and effectively shifted the consensus on the genre of the Gospels. It's the starting point for all the work on the subject that follows, and merits close attention by all students of the Gospels, especially in this new edition that catches new readers up on discussions subsequent to the previous editions.
~Craig Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary
Richard Burridge set out to disprove the claim that the Gospels belong to the genre of Greco-Roman biography. In the process, the data compelled him to change his mind and write What Are The Gospels? This is a watershed book, primarily responsible for moving the majority of New Testament scholarship to a place where it either regards the Gospels as Greco-Roman biographies or as being closely affiliated with that genre. For New Testament scholarship, it is one of the most important books of the twentieth century. This 25th Anniversary Edition contains more than one hundred new pages in which Burridge interacts with critics who have taken issue with his thesis and summarizes the findings of other scholars who have built upon his work, teasing out important implications of the Gospels being of a biographical genre.
~Michael R. Licona, Associate Professor of Theology, Houston Baptist University