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Hypertextuality and Historicity in the Gospels


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 2 The problem of the historicity of the Gospel material


Numerous factors contribute to the complexity of the problem of the historicity of the Gospel material. Some of them are related to the particular literary char- acter of the Gospel texts, which, as was demonstrated above, generally refer to other texts rather than to historical facts. Other factors are related to the present state of research on the historicity of the Gospel material, research which is highly conditioned by its hidden assumptions, traditionally used methods, widely accepted results, etc. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of these fac- tors is necessary for settling the issue of the historicity of the Gospel material. 2.1 The Old Testament background The so-called ‘historical books’ of the Old Testament were for centuries re- garded as describing the real history of the Jewish people. In modern times, this traditional conviction was severely shaken, but nevertheless even critical schol- ars were inclined to believe in the historicity of at least the basic elements of the history of the chosen people, as it had been presented in the Pentateuch and in the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehe- miah.1 The most recent research on the use of the procedure of sequential hyper- textual reworking of earlier texts in later texts of the Old Testament has revealed that the so-called ‘historical books’ of the Old Testament primarily refer to other texts2 rather than to historical facts. Moreover, even when they refer to historical facts, they often heavily distort them in order to illustrate or demonstrate...

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