The Gospels as Biography Part 2 (Richard Burridge)

I am posting part II of my notes on Burridge’s (B) What are the Gospels.  To read my charts below, here is the Legend: T=title, O=opening, VS=verb subjects, Sp=space allotment, M=mode, L=length, St=structure, Sc=Scale, U=Literary Units, S=Sources, MC=characterization method, Set=Setting, Top=Topics, A=atmosphere (tone), QC=characterization Quality, F=Function (social setting/ocasion) I=Authorial intent

Ch 5 (109-27) lists generic features including structure/form and content/material to enable comparison (110): opening features (title, opening, prologue/preface), subject, external features (mode, metre, size, scale) and internal features (style, tone, mood, attitude, values, characterization) (111).  Under opening features (112-3), titles may convey genre or act as a ‘master word’ to the work (112), but they may be a later addition by  grammarians (113).  A first sentence or prologue can act the same way (e.g., epistolary greeting) in a work’s opening  (113).  Under subject (113-7), the ancients saw subjects as “appropriate” to genres (epic=heroes, dialogues=truth, justice, beauty) (113-4) while B looks at statistics on verbal subjects (114-6; cf. Appendix 261-74) and space given to aspects of a subject’s life (116-7).  Under external features (117-21), mode constitutes the intent as oral (speech) or written (written works often read aloud), the construction as prose or verse, and the type of narration (117).  Metre was important to certain genres (117). Length affects how long it takes to read and how much of the scroll(s) is needed (118) and some genres are generally lengthy (historiography, epic, philosophical dialogue), short (orations, hymns, epigrams) or medium (historical monograph, romance, bios) (118-9). Structure is how a work is organized from continuous chronology (epic, history, story) to conversational (dialogue) (119-20). Scale can be wide (all events of a year) to narrow (a person, place, event) (120). Literary units come in many types (stories, speeches, dialogues, anecdotes, sons, descriptions) (120).  Genres employ sources (archives, letters, histories, bioi, sayings/maxims, oral reports) in different ways (120-1).  Using words/deeds to reveal character is not exclusive to one genre but we expect similar characterization methods in a genre (121).  Under internal features (122-6), setting can be determinative (pastoral genres, epic battles) (122), topoi can be familiar to a genre (e.g., comedic plotlines) but may cross genre lines (122), style can be high/middle/low (popular) (123), tone ranges from tragic to triumphant to irreverent and works of a genre may have similar tones (123-4), quality characterization may depend on the genre (B points out that “personality” development is modern but the ancients allowed change in moral “character”) (124-5), occasion indicates the function (festival, dinner party, funeral, panegyric for new ruler) (125), and authorial intention is the contract set with readers (e.g., praise/ecomium, several purposes) (125-6).

Ch 6 (128-53) covers 5 bioi before the Gospels from the origins in rhetorical ecomia in the 4th cent BCE to the Hellenistic/Alexandrian and Roman periods:  Isocrates Evagoras, Xenophon’s Agesilaus, Satyrus’ Euripides (Peripatetic bios), Cornelius Nepos’ Atticus and Philo’s Moses (129-33).  The chart below shows many common features (subject, title, unequal space allotment, internal features, serious style though can be light-hearted [Satyrus], prose narrative [but Evagoras a speech, Euripides in dialogue], medium length, topical, mixed material, anecdotal) (152-3).  There were limits on the flexibility as Xenophon’s Memorabilia is not a bios because of its excessive length, philosophical dialogue and absent chronology (153).

Iso

Xen

Saty

Nep

Ph

T

133

Evagoras Agesilaus biōnanagraphē…Euripidou (added) Atticus (part of De viris illustribus) Peri tou biou Mōuseōs
O

133

-34

Prologue to Evagoras’ son Nicoles, hard to praise man’s virtue in words (Evag. 1-11), Subject named at start Prologue (Ages 1.1), same theme as Evagoras, Subject named at start Missing,subjectat start Lacks Preface, subject named right at start Preface (I.1), to write life of Moses, subject named at start
VS

134

-35

Name in 69/370 sentences (18.7%), Nominative 35 (9.5%) Name in 65/252 sent. (25.8%)
Sp

135

-38

(in

%)

-Intro (14.5)-Context (9.8)

-Early years (13)

-Comparison (8.7)

-Deeds & virtue (14.5)

-War deeds (17.5)

-Evaluation (11)

-End (11)

-Intro/early years (4)

-Persian campaign (37.4)

-campaigns & deeds (12.7)

-Virtues (35.2)

-Summary (10.7)

Unknown -Early years, education, Rome (26)

-Civil War Years (32)

-Character & anecdotes (25)

-Late years, death, end (17)

-Preface (0.6)

-Life, King (53.4)

-Preface (2)

-Lawgiver (8)

-Priest (18.8)

-Prophet (16.3)

-Death, end (0.6)

M

138

Prose, oral, speech for festival to honour dead one and addressed to son Prose, similar rhetorical features but intended as written Prose, written in dialogue w/ some verse in metre and 3 speakers Continuous prose narrative Continuous prose narrative
L

139

About 5000 words About 7558 words Unknown, guess 7000-8000 words About 3500 words About 32000 words
St

139

-41

Chronology (birth to death), inserts topics at various points (style, character, views on women, Athens) Chronology (birth to death), background and 40 years covered in 1 page before king, topical insertion (his virtue) Chronology (birth-death) Chronology (birth to death), 1 chapter on ancestry & birth before adult life at 23 years, topical insertion Chronology, unlike other records that can be dated Philo relies for Moses public life as king on Pentateuch, topical insertion (law, priesthood, prophet)
Sc

141

Limited to subject Limited to subject Limited to subject Limited to subject (notable as part of last half century of Roman Republic) Mostly limit to subject (recounts events, customs tied to Moses)
U

141

-42

Mixture (esp anecdotes), formal oratory (prooimion, exordium, etc) Mixture (esp anecdotes) Mixture, Dialogue w/ quotations & anecdotes Mixture (esp anecdotes) but units less clear Mixture (esp anecdotes), legends & miracle stories
S

142

-43

Various sources, omits Evagoras’ ignoble death Served under subject in Asia 396-4 BCE, actions meeting his disapproval in Hellenica are omitted in the bios Euripides’ dramas, poets, comedy, Philochoros (Oxy. Pap. IX) Personal knowledge of subject (13.7) Scripture, oral tradition (I.4)
MC

143

-44

Praises Evagoras using formal methods of comparison (e.g., Cyrus), descriptive & narrative character Deeds (I.6), Agesilaus’ courage (I.20, 27, 36; II.8) History cares about deeds & bios virtue as well (De vir ill. XVI; Pelop. 1.1), Atticus is careful, economical, loyal, pater familias
Set

145

Cyprus Individual scenes of Agesilaus’ virtue Athens, Sicily, Macedonia. Dialogue setting Rome -Egypt, wilderness. Moses introduces topics
Top

145

-46

Ancestry (Zeus, Trojan War hero Teucer), birth (in omens & portents), education, deeds (gov’t, war), virtues Ancestry (Heracles, Sparta), education, deeds (campaigns), virtues (III-XI), death (X.3-4; XI.16) Ancestry, education, deeds (dramatic contests), virtues, death (Frag. 39.xxi) Ancestry (ancient Roman), education, deeds (avoids public office & war, finances, friend to all), virtues (13-18), death (22) Ancestry (Chaldean, Egypt), birth (biblical tale), education, deeds (king, exodus, law-giver, prophet, priest), virtues, death (II.291)
Sty

147

High, rhetorical (antitheses in 43-46) High rhetoric (succession of virtues in III-IX) Literary pretensions, but also popular anecdotal level Short, simple sentences and less vocab for wider audience Accessible, less allegory for wider audience
A

147

-48

Respectful & serious, hortatory Respectful & serious, hortatory light-hearted, dialogue of friends, gossip & moralist Respectful & serious, hortatory Respectful & serious, hortatory
QC

148

-49

Stereotypic (encomia) Stereotypic Stereotypic Stereotypic loyal & economical, but shrewd financier Stereotypic
F

149

Educated & ruling class, festival for son of deceased Educated & ruling class, apologetic after death Educated & ruling class, pop interest in stories Educated & ruling class, inform wide audience Educated & ruling class, inform others on Moses
I

149

-52

Encomia & eulogy, exemplary, Memory Encomia & eulogy, exemplary, Memory, apologetic Exemplary in criticism of Euripides haughtiness or aloofness, Entertain, Informative Informative, Memory Exemplary, Informative, Didactic, apologetic

Ch 7 (154-90) covers 5 bioi after the Gospels:  Tacitus’ Agricola, Plutarch’s Cato Minor, Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, Lucian’s Demonax, and Philostratus Apollonius of Tyana (155-60).  We get the same impression of family resemblance with some flexibility.

Tac

Pl

Suet

Luc

Ph

T

160

-61

Cornelii Taciti de Vita Iulii Agricolae liber incipit Katōn (Part of Parallel Lives) De vita Caesarum Bios Dēmōnachtos Ta es tonTuanea Apollōnion
O

161

-62

Formal Prologue, theme about how such works not possible under Domitian, classifiesas vita No Prologue in Cato Minor as prologue & initial comparison in partner Phocion (ch 3) Beginning of first life Divus Julius was not preserved, other Lives begin with ancestry Prologue refers to purpose & other philosophers & subject’s name (1-2) Prologue refers to purpose & other philosophy sources & subject’s name (I.1-3)
VS

162

-63

Agricola subject of 18% of verbs & further 4% in speeches, Britain/Britons 14% & add 7% in speech of Calgacus (Ch 30-32).  Reason: he conquered Britain Cato’s name in 42.5% of sentences, nominative 14.9% In Caesar subject in 34.4%, nominative 11%.  Pompey 35.8 & 12.1%. Marius 32 & 9.2. Sulla subject 32.4 & 11.2% (subjects 1/3 of sentences & 1/10 of work) Subject 33.6% of verbs & speaks a further 1/5 (19.7%) of the time
Sp

164

-67

(in

%)

-Ch 1-3 (5.6)-Ch 4-9 (40-78 CE, birth & education only ch 4) (12.6)

-Ch 10-17 (18.3)

-Ch 18-24 (78-82 CE) (13.4)

-Ch 25-8 (83 CE) (7.2)

-Ch 29-39 (1 year = 84 CE!) (26.1)

-Ch 40-3 (84-93 CE) (9.3)

-Ch 44-6 (7.5)

-Birth, child, education (15.0)

-Slave Wars, Military Tribune in Asia (9.2)

-Quaestor (10.3)

-Cicero Consul; Catilinarian Conspiracy (11.5)

-Pompey & Caesar, Cato in Cyprus (13.8)

-Praetorship (10.3)

-Growing tension (6.9)

-Civil War, Pharsalus (5.7)

-Last days in Africa, death (17.3)

Divi Aug

-Ancestry & family (3)

-Birth, early years to accession (3.5)

-Wars & military affairs (16)

-Admin & rule of empire (35)

-Personal & family matters (36)

-Death, omens, funeral, will (6.5)

-Preface (6)

-Life & character (25)

-Anecdotes & sayings (60)

-Later years, death, conclusion (9)

-Into (0.9)

-Early years (4)

-Travels & dialogues (68.8)

-Prison, trial (21)

-Later events, death, appearance, honours (5.3)

M

168

Continuous prose narrative in 3rd per, 2 speeches, influence from Sallust & Livy in middle Continuous prose narrative, chronology, many sayings/speeches Continuous prose narrative, non-chronological topical order Not continuous prose narrative, unconnected anecdotes & stories Continuous prose narrative, formal dialogue blocks
L

168

-69

7000 words 16500 words (pair Phoc.10000).Only Antony, Alexander, Pompey longer, while Parallel Lives 10000-11000) Lives average 10000 words (Divi Julius 12000, Augustus 16000) Just over 3000 words Massive 82000 words
St

169

-71

Chronology (birth to death), major space to battle of Mons Graupius & the insertion on background on Britain (10-17) Chronology (birth to death), follows chronology very closely by year (easier for politician), apologizes for topical insertion on relationships with women (25.5) Barest chronology from ancestry & family & accession to death, topical sections on virtue & vice, foreign policy, home admin. Barest chronology quickly from birth & education (ch 3-5) to anecdotes on character (ch 5-10) & loose linked stories or sayings (ch 12-62) Appears to have a chronology in set of journeys but little dating.  Like the other 4 bioi, returns to chronology for last days, death, funeral & evaluation
Sc

171

-72

Broad w/ history, geography & ethnography of Britain but narrower than historical monograph Limited to subject (in spite of major events at end of Republic) Limited to subject (esp due to topical arrangement) Limited to subject (esp due to anecdotal approach) Broader w/ geography, history & ethnographyat points.
U

172

-73

Mixture (anecdotes, geography, speeches, stories) Mixture (anecdotes, notable saying, speeches, stories).  Differ Life to Life (personal details; apophthegms; history or tragic elements) Mixture Mainly sayings as part of pronounce-ment story Similar to Demonax, legends or miracle-stories as well
S

173

-75

Oral family tradition, personal memory, Agricola’s notes, senatorial records & letters, other writers (Strabo, Pliny, Varro, Caesar, Livy, etc) 150 historians cited in Moralia & Lives, 25 sources behind 6 late Republic Lives (Pollio, bioi, memoirs, primary sources, letters & documents, oral), Thrasea Paetus & Munatius Lives of Cato Many sources (documents in imperial archives, letters of Augustus), often compares & criticizes different accounts Personal student for long period Traditions from cities Apollonius visited, accounts & letters, Maximus of Aegeae, Moiragenes, disputed Damis
MC

175

-77

Direct praise in last chapters (44-6), in the narrative thru events (gov’t, war) & motives or thoughts, deeds & ways Classic statement on character in small things (Alex 1.1-3; Cato 24.1; 37.5; Phoc. 5.4); anecdotes, stories, sayings, direct statement in comparison Topical (military, consulship, conduct, virtue & vices), little direct analysis of character except from deeds & words Manner of life & temperament (ch 6-8), revealed in anecdotes & sayings that follow Brief comparison with other philosopher (VII.-4), but mostly from stories
Set

177

-78

Diverse = Anglesey (ch 18) in Scotland to Rome (ch 43), Britain Rome, Asia for military tribunate (ch 9-15), Cyprus to sort out Ptolemy (ch 34-9), Civil War in Greece & Africa Rome Athens Ancient Mediteranean& India
Top

178

-80

Ancestry (city, grandfathers, father, mother), no birth (in omens & portents), education (one story of mom against his early love of philosophy in ch 4), deeds (in Britain provincial admin, military skill), virtues, death (emperor’s interest, funeral) Ancestry (great grandfather Elder Cato), no birth, education (anecdotes: Pompaedius Silo holds 4 year old Cato out window, childhood concern for unjustly imprisoned playmate in game [2]) & taught by Sarpedon & Antipater the Stoic), great deeds, virtues, death (detailed to the minute, funeral) Ancestry (always begins w/ family except Titus & Domitian as covered in Vespasian), birth (place & shrine in divi Aug. 5-6), great deeds (under various headings), virtues (public & private virtues & vices), death (graphic details of deaths & memorable last words, praetor sees Augustus ascent [100]) Ancestry (Cyrpus), no birth, education (I.4-5), deeds (brilliant words for the situation), virtues (13-18), death (funeral & honours) Ancestry (Tyana), birth (vision of Proteus & swan dance in I.4-6), education (I.7-13), deeds (miracles, travel), virtues, death (post-mortem visions, differing accounts of ascent & appears to doubting young man, did not find tomb [VIII.30-1])
Sty

180

-81

Rhetorical, oratory & history (influence of Livy & Sallust), pithy epigrams No Atticizing trend; drew on history, rhetoric & moral philosophy, literary koine Simple, precise, technical language, accurate quotes Rhetorical on a popular level, simple & clear style Imperial patronage but popular story & narrative style
A

181

-82

Respectful (even eulogy) & serious, mood may shift, hortatory to Roman virtue Respectful & serious (fits end of Republic), stern (austere) & moralistic (Republican & Stoic values) Between light (racy anecdotes, court gossip) & serious (matters of state, virtues & vices have moralistic concern) More light-hearted, witty banter, approval of subject & values but not hortatory Between light & serious (respectful, eulogistic), superior philosophy & good stories
QC

148

-49

Stereotypic (great soldier & wise statesman, victim of bad emperor), but some personal touches Cato=austere, brilliant, isolated, conservative.Suicide shows nobility.  Some Lives have change in character & may be moralistic or just interest in character Stereotypic, anecdotes have realistic feel
F

184

-85

Educated upper class, dinner party (style, tone, maxims, oratory) Dedicated to Roman Q Sosius Senecio, Graeco-Roman educated class (explains Roman customs to Greeks), attitude against the masses, for rich friends to read Wider social circle (debate over senatorial or equites & pop setting) Dedicated to Julia Domna, upper social setting, to correct popular ignorance of figure
I

185

-86

Encomia (3.3; 45.3), entertain (noble avage of 30-2), memory (46.3), apologetic (held office under Domitian) Exemplary (24.1; 37.5), moralistic & didactic (esp Phoc. 3.3-5), entertain (various Lives), didactic (44.7-8; 9.5; 53.2), apologetic against criticism or correct false views Informative, Entertain Exemplary (2), entertain, memory (2), didactic (67) Informative (I.2-3), entertain, didactic, apologetic (against Christians)

Ch 8 (191-219) examines the Synoptics in the same light:

  • T (192-3) = Mark altered euangelion (gospel) to cover the preaching and life of Jesus, influencing the identification in the 2nd cent of euangelion with Jesus books in the standard titles
  • O (194-5) = the extent of Mark’s opening is unclear but it is not formal, unlike Luke’s preface (L. Alexander scientific classification does not dispute the bios affinities of Luke & Acts).  Matt launches straight into ancestry (cf. Nepos, Plutarch), Mark begins with a sentence (cf. Xenophon, some of Plutarch’s Lives [Timoleon 1]) & Luke has a preface (cf. Lucian, Philo paragraph prefaces; Isocrates, Tacitus & Philostratus longer) and all announce the subject at the start (Luke after the preface at start of narrative).  Mark & Matt have OT allusions (cf. arche in Mk 1:1 & biblical titles).
  • VS (195-7)=Jesus is the subject 24.4% of verbs of Mark and a further 1/5 (20.2%) as speaker of teachings or parables (cf. Satyrus).  Matthew/Luke have 17.2/17.9% or 1/6 of verbs and Jesus as the speaker 42.5% (Matt) and 36.8% (Luke), the difference as Matthew emphasizes Jesus’ teaching blocks and Luke supplies more narrative settings (cf. philosophical dialogues)
  • Sp (197-9) = Matt: infancy (4.5%), preparation (3.9), Sermon on Mount (10.4), ministry (6.7), mission of disciples (3.8), ministry (7.4), parables (4.9), ministry & Peter’s confession (12.7), church (3.3), journey to Jerusalem (18.2), eschatology (9.1), Supper to Easter (15.1).  Mark: prep (2%), Galilean ministry (9.9), disciple call/ministry (17.9), mission/blind disciples (17), journey to Jerusalem (17), Jerusalem ministry (17.1), Supper to Easter (19.1).  Luke: preface (0.4), Infancy (11.1), prep (4.4), Galilean ministry (23.9), Journey to Jerusalem (35.3), Jerusalem Ministry (9.3), Super to Easter (15.6). Plutarch (17.3%), Nepos (15%), Tacitus (10%) and Philostratus (26%) similarly focus on a subject’s last days and the cross as important as key battles/campaigns of other subjects (198-9)
  • M (199) =mainly continuous prose narrative (less than Plutarch’s Lives or Tacitus’ Agricola, but more than Lucian’s Demonax), oral tradition, public reading
  • L (199-200) = Matt 18305 words, Mark 11242 and Luke 19428 (parables average <100 so inadequate genre)
  • St (200-2) =Baptism (Matt/Luke = infancy) to Passion, large amounts of ministry material arranged topically, basic chronology from Galilee to Jerusalem (less than Agricola or Agesilaus, more than Demonax or Porphyry’s Pythagoras)
  • Sc (202) =narrow on Jesus as typical of bios literature
  • U (202-4)=sayings, anecdotes, pronouncement stories (cf. Lucian, Philostratus, Plutarch)
  • S (204-5) = Lk 1:1-4 “many”, oral and written sources (B accepts the standard Synoptic solution)
  • MC (205-6) = not direct statements but by words/deeds.  Lack of character development does not refute their bios status (206)
  • Set (206-7) = Galilee and Jerusalem, focus on individual more than place like other bioi
  • Top (207-9) = ancestry, birth (not in Mark but also omitted in Agesilaus, Atticus, Cato Minor, Demonax), childhood and education (Luke; cf. single stories in Evagoras, Agricola, Cato) (208), deeds, virtues (not systematic like Agesilaus III-XI, Atticus 13-18 or Suetonius’ Caesars, but virtues through narrative like other bioi) (209), death & consequences
  • Sty (209-10) = Koine w/ Semitic influence, Mark has the roughest Greek with parallels to Alexander Romance or other rough prose bioi that may not have survived (cf. 218).  See also the popular style of Satyrus or Lucian and Plutarch’s resistance to Attic archaicizing.
  • A (210-1) = serious, reverence (even worship) to subject but unlike encomium, mood varies, ethical content
  • QC (211-2) = stereotypical, but anecdotes give Jesus a real character
  • F (212-4) = nothing explicit about Gospel communities, review of patristic and modern scholarly hypotheses but texts do not contain sufficient info except for desire to tell about Jesus
  • I (214-7) = Shuler misreads as encomium bioi (different kind of praise of religious community rather than a public funeral) (214), exemplary (discipleship), informative, entertain (esp. Luke-Acts), preserve memory (though the risen Jesus is still active), didactic, apologetic/polemical

Ch 9 (220-239) takes the same approach to John:

  • T (222) = original authorship debated, the addition of the standard title shows it was perceived as belonging in the same type as the Synoptics
  • O (222-3) = (pre-Johannine?) hymn, echoes of Genesis (cf. OT allusions in Mk/Matt), not a generic feature but the subject is named after the prologue which does parallel other bioi
  • VS (223-4) = Jesus is the subject of 1/5 or 20.2% of verbs with a further 1.1% when he is called by a title (e.g., Word, Son, etc), over half the verbs (55.3%) are taken up with reference to Jesus words or deeds
  • Sp= Prologue (2%), beginning/call of disciples (3.8), ministry & signs (48.6), Bethany (7.8), entry to Jerusalem (4.5), Last Supper (4.3), Discourses (13.3), Passion & Easter (15.7)
  • M (225) = continuous prose narrative, extended discourses/dialogues inserted (interestingly chooses “life” over sayings or dialogue format)
  • L (225-6) = about 15416 words
  • St (226) = Prologue to Passion, alternating between Jerusalem and Galilee with Bethany interlude (11:1-12:11), geographical & chronological order with discourses inserted
  •  Sc = narrow (Jesus)
  • U (227) = stories (does not use anecdotes or pronouncement stories in same way as Synoptics), dialogue or extended conversations (cf. Apollonius, Socratic literature), speeches/discourse
  • S (228-9) = B judges it unlikely that John knew the Synoptics, uncertain about hypothetical sources (Bultmann’s Signs, Discourses and Passion source) and prefers multiple revisions of text in school (cf. philosophical schools)
  • MC (229-30) = mainly by words and deeds, especially “I am” sayings, occasional narrator asides
  • Set (230) = geographical (Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem), centres on Jesus
  • Top (231-2) = ancestry in divine realm, missing birth & childhood (cf. insults about Nazareth), great deeds (signs), virtues in the narrative, death and consequences
  • Sty = Koine with Semitisms, uniform language and limited vocab, unified feel with key words and dualistic contrasts
  • A (234) = serious and reverential, fairly uniform didactic purpose
  • QC (234-5) = lacks realism as portrayal of divine being, but narrative has more real feel though stereotyped character
  • F (235-7) = environment with Jewish (OT, Rabbinic, non-conformist ‘Judaism’) and Graeco-Roman (Platonism, Stoicism, proto-Gnosticism) influence, conflict with synagogue, no explicit communal setting
  • I (236-7) = Jn 20:30-1, revealed in signs and passion, apologetic against “the Jews”

Ch 10 (240-59) discusses B‘s contributions in the evaluation of past research (240-1), choice of good methodology (241) and verdict on Gospels’ genre (242-3).  The 4 Gospels belong to the same generic family despite their differences (244-7). B opposes putting them in different subtypes (a la Talbert) and thinks Luke & Acts should be distinguished, though Acts may be a bios of the subject’s followers or church like Dicaearuchus’  biographical work on Greece (Peri tou tes Hellados Biou) or related genre like a historical monograph (cf. Cicero, Ad. Fam. V.12.2-4) (246).  Other proposed genres having to do with tragedy or comedy refer to the “mode”, not genre (Fowler’s 3 levels) (247).  The mixed origins of bios works is relevant to the pre-history of the traditions before Mark and its secondary imitations (Matt, Luke, John) and tertiary re-interpretations away from the bios pattern (apocryphal) (247-5).  Against the view that the evangelists were unacquainted with high literature, generic rules were taught in Hellenistic primary education with children given extracts of classical literature in moral education and mediated to the public through teaching/debates at the market/theatre/courts/dinner parties (252), early Christians were from a cross-section of economic classes (253), and Mark’s author likely had a minimal popular education while the more educated Matt/Luke brought Mark more in conformity with the bios genre (253-4).  The hermeneutical implications is that the Gospels must be interpreted according to standards of ancient bioi  in all their diversity (255-6) and the life of the subject (Jesus) is key to their meaning (256-8).

*My charts seem to be getting cut off and I can’t shrink it down further, so here are the last two columns of each:

Nepos

Philo

T Atticus (part of De viris illustribus) Peri tou biou Mōuseōs
O Lacks Preface, subject named right at start Preface (I.1), to write life of Moses, subject named at start
VS
Sp(in%) -Early years, education, Rome (26)

-Civil War Years (32)

-Character & anecdotes (25)

-Late years, death, end (17)

-Preface (0.6)

-Life, King (53.4)

-Preface (2)

-Lawgiver (8)

-Priest (18.8)

-Prophet (16.3)

-Death, end (0.6)

M Continuous prose narrative Continuous prose narrative
L About 3500 words About 32000 words
St Chronology (birth to death), 1 chapter on ancestry & birth before adult life at 23 years, topical insertion Chronology, unlike other records that can be dated Philo relies for Moses public life as king on Pentateuch, topical insertion (law, priesthood, prophet)
Sc Limited to subject (notable as part of last half century of Roman Republic) Mostly limit to subject (recounts events, customs tied to Moses)
U Mixture (esp anecdotes) but units less clear Mixture (esp anecdotes), legends & miracle stories
S Personal knowledge of subject (13.7) Scripture, oral tradition (I.4)
MC
Set Rome -Egypt, wilderness. Moses introduces topics
Top Ancestry (ancient Roman), education, deeds (avoids public office & war, finances, friend to all), virtues (13-18), death (22) Ancestry (Chaldean, Egypt), birth (biblical tale), education, deeds (king, exodus, law-giver, prophet, priest), virtues, death (II.291)
Sty Short, simple sentences and less vocab for wider audience Accessible, less allegory for wider audience
A Respectful & serious, hortatory Respectful & serious, hortatory
QC Stereotypic loyal & economical, but shrewd financier Stereotypic
F Educated & ruling class, inform wide audience Educated & ruling class, inform others on Moses
I Informative, Memory Exemplary, Informative, Didactic, apologetic

Lucian

Philostratus

T Bios Dēmōnachtos Ta es tonTuanea Apollōnion
O Prologue refers to purpose & other philosophers & subject’s name (1-2) Prologue refers to purpose & other philosophy sources & subject’s name (I.1-3)
VS Subject 33.6% of verbs & speaks a further 1/5 (19.7%) of the time
Sp

(in

%)

-Preface (6)

-Life & character (25)

-Anecdotes & sayings (60)

-Later years, death, conclusion (9)

-Into (0.9)

-Early years (4)

-Travels & dialogues (68.8)

-Prison, trial (21)

-Later events, death, appearance, honours (5.3)

M Not continuous prose narrative, unconnected anecdotes & stories Continuous prose narrative, formal dialogue blocks
L Just over 3000 words Massive 82000 words
St Barest chronology quickly from birth & education (ch 3-5) to anecdotes on character (ch 5-10) & loose linked stories or sayings (ch 12-62) Appears to have a chronology in set of journeys but little dating.  Like the other 4 bioi, returns to chronology for last days, death, funeral & evaluation
Sc Limited to subject (esp due to anecdotal approach) Broader w/ geography, history & ethnographyat points.
U Mainly sayings as part of pronouncement story Similar to Demonax, legends or miracle-stories as well
S Personal student for long period Traditions from cities Apollonius visited, accounts & letters, Maximus of Aegeae, Moiragenes, disputed Damis
MC Manner of life & temperament (ch 6-8), revealed in anecdotes & sayings that follow Brief comparison with other philosopher (VII.-4), but mostly from stories
Set Athens Ancient Mediteranean & India
Top Ancestry (Cyrpus), no birth, education (I.4-5), deeds (brilliant words for the situation), virtues (13-18), death (funeral & honours) Ancestry (Tyana), birth (vision of Proteus & swan dance in I.4-6), education (I.7-13), deeds (miracles, travel), virtues, death (post-mortem visions, differing accounts of ascent & appears to doubting young man, did not find tomb [VIII.30-1])
Sty Rhetorical on a popular level, simple & clear style Imperial patronage but popular story & narrative style
A More light-hearted, witty banter, approval of subject & values but not hortatory Between light & serious (respectful, eulogistic), superior philosophy & good stories
QC Stereotypic, anecdotes have realistic feel
F Dedicated to Julia Domna, upper social setting, to correct popular ignorance of figure
I Exemplary (2), entertain, memory (2), didactic (67) Informative (I.2-3), entertain, didactic, apologetic (against Christians)
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2 Responses to The Gospels as Biography Part 2 (Richard Burridge)

  1. […] are Bioi, i.e. ancient biographies of the sort written in that historical and cultural context. His latest post features a chart comparing the features in a number of works (the right column of which […]

  2. […] Cambridge University Press, 2013) (HT James McGrath on Facebook).  In my notes, both Talbert and Burridge hinted that Acts may be a bios of a subject’s successors or school, so I will be interested […]

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