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Creativity and inspiration Criticism of scripture

Some of our actual readers may be feeling by now that this is all very exciting, but perhaps a bit much! It is usually a good idea in a picture gallery to sit down and take stock occasionally. So far, we have seen that the four gospels are like four portraits of Jesus, and that we need to consider each one carefully to appreciate its particular message. The genre of the gospels is ancient biography, because of the large number of generic features they share with Graeco-Roman lives. This fact alone should make us listen attentively to the individual portraits of Jesus, since biography is designed to tell us something about a person. Then we noted the various tools used by scholars: source criticism, analysing the sources of the gospels and which ones used which others; form criticism, looking at the different types of individual passages; redaction criticism, stressing the evangelists as editors of their material, leading us on to consider them as authors, concerned for the composition of their narrative; literary criticism, with its analysis of the text, plot, structures, rhetorical techniques and the place of the reader. Lastly, we have discovered the need to contemplate the entire history of their influence upon people and cultures. These are all helpful aids when standing before the gospels’ portraits of Jesus, but we may be excused for feeling a little footsore!…

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