What does it mean to speak about the
oral traditions behind the Gospels?
What important events happened between
the time of Jesus’ death and the writing of the New Testament Gospels? In what
contexts did people tell stories about what Jesus said and did? Who would be
telling these stories? What might they emphasize in the stories as they told
Does it seem possible to you that some
of the stories about Jesus were modified as they were told and retold? Why
would they have been? What kind of changes might have been made?
Is there any evidence that the
stories recorded in our Gospels are ones that had been changed in the process
of retelling? How convincing is this evidence to you? What other kinds of
evidence would you look for?
Why do scholars question the traditional
view that the four New Testament Gospels were written by persons named Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John?
Why is it important to recognize the
genre of a text?
What are the chief characteristics of
Greco-Roman biography as a genre?
In what ways are the Gospels like
Greco-Roman biographies? Why would understanding the Gospels as Greco-Roman
biographies help us to interpret them?
Taking into account the role of religion
in the Greco-Roman world (see chapter 2), what missionary tactics do you think
would be most effective for early Christians?
How many people in the Roman Empire
were literate? What does it mean to “read” a book in antiquity? How do scholars
understand the relationship between oral culture and history?