What the Gospels Are

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 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 Jesus was: more ignorance from my post-Enlightenment indoctrination. I won’t make that mistake again.

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

  1. The Gospels are best seen as ancient biographies of Jesus
  2. Ancient biographies had several distinctive characteristics:
    1. They were usually based on oral and written sources (sometimes biographers showed a preference for the oral).
    2. 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.
    3. They did not utilize “character development,” since most ancient people believed that a person’s character was relatively constant throughout his or her life.
    4. They often portrayed the main figure’s character at the very outset of the narrative.

The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings p.65, Box 4.2

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