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ALETTI Jean-Noël

The Birth of the Gospels as Biographies. With Analyses of Two Challenging Pericopae

2017, pp. 178.

In the cultural context of the 1st century of our era, to write a life of Jesus – what we call a Gospel – constituted an apparently impossible challenge to overcome.  For it was not simply a matter of being inspired by the biblical precedent, the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Samuel and David from sacred writers.  It was also necessary to confront the Greco-Roman genre of the biography, whose protagonists were exclusively “great men”, who enjoyed an excellent societal recognition.  Yet, Jesus, rejected by his coreligionists because of his death on the cross as a blasphemer and seducer of the people, could not a priori expect  a biography of this genre.
The synoptic Gospels have, as a consequence, reconfigured the “biographical” genre of the era by originally using the phenomenon of the recognition.
Behind the birth of the Gospel genre, there is thus the invention of a narrative model, whose focal point is the recognition of Christ in his Easter paradox. 
This model is the raison d’être of the narratives attributed to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Aletti Jean-Noël, Jesuit, teaches at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He is known for his works on the letters of Paul as well as on the two narratives attributed to Luke, the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.