Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Gospels as Covenantal Literature

Identifying the genre of the Gospels has received a great deal of attention since the discipline of form/literary criticism has become prominent in biblical study. Scholars have looked to the cultures of Greece, Rome and Israel to find other pieces of literature that can serve to help identify the genre of the Gospels. Given the fact that the Gospels were written in the context of first century Judaism, and that their content centers on the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the long awaited Messiah of the Jewish scriptures, it is interesting that little attention has been given to the history of Israel and their scriptures and to the concept of covenant to help identify the genre of the Gospels. Both the history of Israel and their scriptures are grounded in the concept of covenant, and it is Israel's covenant relationship with God that serves as the basis for their hope of the coming Messiah. It is, therefore, important and necessary to understand the Gospels within their covenantal/redemptive-historical background to properly identify their genre. When examined in light of the Old Testament concept of covenant in its ancient Near Eastern context, one finds that the Gospels form the Preamble and Historical Prologue of the New Testament (Covenant).

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