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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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General conclusions


The most recent research on the phenomenon of hypertextuality in the Bible, and particularly in the Gospels, has shed entirely new light on the issue of the historicity of the Gospel material. Contrary to the traditional view, which was widely upheld in modern bibli- cal scholarship, the most recent research on hypertextuality in the Gospels has revealed that the Gospels generally do not refer to the course of life, deeds, and words of the historical Jesus. They are rather results of the use of the highly so- phisticated literary procedure of sequential hypertextual reworking of the letters of Paul the Apostle and, in the case of the Gospels of Matthew and John, of the Acts of the Apostles, with additional hypertextual use of the sacred Scriptures of Israel, Josephus’ writings, and numerous other literary works (Homer’s Odyssey etc.). In this respect, the Gospels resemble numerous other biblical works, both of the Old and of the New Testament. The hitherto widely accepted hermeneutic presupposition that the Gospels have a relatively simple, basic referential meaning (which can by analysed through the reconstruction of their Sitz im Le- ben etc.) should therefore be generally abandoned. The most recent research on the use of the procedures of hypertextuality and ethopoeia in the Gospels has also revealed that all four canonical Gospels were written by theological disciples of Paul the Apostle. For this reason, in line with the principles of Paul’s theology (cf. 2 Cor 5:16; Rom 1:3-4; Gal 1:15-16 etc.), the...

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