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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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Chapter 1 Hypertextuality in the Gospels: some examples

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Hypertextuality is one of the most fascinating ways in which a given text can be reworked into another one. The notion of hypertextuality was introduced to lit- erary-critical studies by Gérard Genette. This French literary theorist defined hypertextuality as any relationship uniting a text B (which is in such a case called hypertext) to an earlier text A (which is called hypotext), upon which it grafts itself in a manner that is not that of commentary.1 By definition, hypertextuality is not based on verbatim repetition of the wording of the hypotext. For this reason, the research on hypertextuality should not be limited to the study of rather literal use of a given earlier text in a later text (for example, the use of the Gospel of Mark in the Gospel of Matthew), but it should consist in looking for common (but, on the other hand, creatively trans- formed) literary themes, ideas, and motifs of both texts, and only additionally in detecting common wording.2 Moreover, in the case of a truly hypertextual rela- tionship between two given texts, a high degree of literary creativity and imagi- nation on the part of the author of the hypertext should be allowed for.3 1 G. Genette, Palimpsestes: La littérature au second degré (Seuil: [s.l.] 1982), 13: ‘Hy- pertextualité [:] J’entends par là toute relation unissant un texte B (que j’appellerai hy- pertexte) à un texte antérieur A (que j’appellerai, bien sûr, hypotexte) sur lequel il se greffe d’une manière qui n’est...

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