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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 3 Hypertextuality and historicity in the Gospels from a modern Catholic perspective

Extract

The acknowledgement of the fact that the Gospels are mainly hypertextual works, which only in their most important contents directly refer to history, can be perceived as hardly reconcilable with the Christian doctrine. Christian views concerning the extent and importance of the historicity of the Gospel material are of course diverse. To take only the most extreme examples, whereas for some Christians Jesus was simply a teacher of love, whose portrait in the Gos- pels only roughly corresponds to his actual course of life, for some believers it is of crucial importance that Jesus actually did and said everything that is written of him in the Gospels.1 Therefore, it seems impossible to investigate all possible Christian attitudes to the recently discovered phenomenon of extensive, system- atic use of the procedure of hypertextual reworking of earlier writings in the Gospels. Accordingly, it is reasonable to analyse the possibility of reconciling the idea of a generally hypertextual character of the Gospels with the principles of faith of the Church which nowadays holds a hermeneutically moderate position, namely the Catholic Church. 3.1 Divino Afflante Spiritu The encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, issued in 1943, was the first official document of the Catholic Church which marked a significant shift in the attitude of this Church to the issue of the historicity of the Gospel material. Whereas the two preceding encyclicals concerning biblical exegesis, Providentissimus Deus (issued in 1893) and especially Spiritus Paraclitus (issued in 1920), apologeti- cally defended the inerrancy of the Bible in historical...

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