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Hypertextuality and Historicity in the Gospels

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Bartosz Adamczewski

This book demonstrates that the Gospels originated from a sequential hypertextual reworking of the contents of Paul’s letters and, in the case of Matthew and John, of the Acts of the Apostles. Consequently, the new quest for the historical Jesus, which takes this discovery into serious consideration, results in a rather limited reconstruction of Jesus’ life. However, since such a reconstruction includes, among others, Jesus’ messiahship, behaving in a way which was later interpreted as pointing to him as the Son of God, instituting the Lord’s Supper, being conscious of the religious significance of his imminent death, dying on the cross, and appearing as risen from the dead to Cephas and numerous other Jewish believers, it can be reconciled with the principles of the Christian faith.

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Introduction

Extract

The problem of the reconstruction of the course of life, deeds, and words of Je- sus Christ is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating issues in modern biblical scholarship. In order to cope with this issue, scholars devised various recon- structive methods and procedures, which are usually presented today under the labels of several ‘quests for the historical Jesus’.1 In this way, notwithstanding all the differences between various scholarly proposals, a more or less coherent image of the historical Jesus as a particular Jewish religious and social ‘activist’, who lived in first-century Galilee, emerged and became more or less widely ac- cepted in mainstream scholarship.2 However, all reconstructions of the deeds and words of the historical Jesus, which were presented at various stages of the ‘historical Jesus research’, were formulated on one fundamental assumption, namely that the Gospels more or less directly refer to the life of the historical Jesus. Even if numerous modern scholars regarded various parts of the Gospel material as most probably unhis- torical, this basic assumption concerning the referential character of the Gospels was in fact never challenged. Consequently, scholars still generally believe that the Gospels in an at least fundamental way reflect the features of the life and person of the historical Jesus: his early activity in Galilee, his challenging inter- pretation of the Jewish law, his clashes with the Pharisees, his travel to Jerusa- lem, his conflict with the chief priests in the Holy City, etc. The most recent research on the hypertextual features...

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