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Reading the Gospels as History

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Chapter Summary

The four New Testament Gospels are virtually the only source for our knowledge of the acts and teachings of the earthly Jesus. They are received by the church as the work of inspired writers, apostles and prophets who were guided by the Spirit of God to give a true portrayal and interpretation of his life and work, and they are also historical documents whose origin and formation can be investigated and in some measure discovered. The topic in this chapter raises the question whether these two perceptions of the Gospels are in conflict. Under the influence of R. Bultmann and M. Dibelius the classical form criticism raised many doubts about the historicity of the Synoptic Gospels, but this form criticism itself was shaped by a number of literary and historical assumptions which themselves are increasingly seen to have a doubtful historical basis.

Keywords: classicalform criticism; Gospels; New Testament; prophets



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