I read the Gospels to get to know Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. For a long time I would basically gloss over or outright reject the miracles in the story as legendary accounts, particularly the birth narratives. I was deeply interested in Jesus of Nazareth the man first, because that is how he become known. I wanted insight into he who “made our hearts burn” and sparked a faith that has lasted millenia. It seemed to me that miracles and such obscured who he was: more ignorance from my post-Enlightenment indoctrination. I won’t make that mistake again.
As Bart Ehrman writes:
The Christian Gospels
- The Gospels are best seen as ancient biographies of Jesus
- Ancient biographies had several distinctive characteristics:
- They were usually based on oral and written sources (sometimes biographers showed a preference for the oral).
- They were less concerned with relating historical events than with showing the character of the main figure through his or her words, deeds, and interactions.
- They did not utilize “character development,” since most ancient people believed that a person’s character was relatively constant throughout his or her life.
- They often portrayed the main figure’s character at the very outset of the narrative.