Are the Canonical Gospels to be Identified as a Genre of Greco-Roman Biography? The Early Church Fathers Say ‘No.’

Liberal-critical and evangelical-critical scholarship has recently attempted to iden- tify the Gospels with the ancient style of writing known as Greco-Roman biography. The author has already established this position as highly tenuous, reflecting a cycle in New Testament studies that often seeks novelty in interpretation (cf. Acts 17:21, καινότερον—”new,” “unique,” “novel”). A close examination of the nascent church Fathers, especially as found in the first great church historian, Eusebius, reveals that the early church decidedly rejected the Greco-Roman historiographic tradition. Prominent early Fathers deprecated the quality of historians like Thucydides and Plutarch who are now identified with the Gospel tradition in New Testament scholarship. Instead, the early Fathers identified the historiography of the Gospels with the Hebrew tradition as evidenced in the Old Testament, reflecting the historical genre of Old Testament promise, now seeing the fulfilment of those promises. They also affirmed the absolute trustworthiness and accuracy of the canonical Gospels as produced of the Holy Spirit of truth. Once again, critical scholarship, being influenced by the Enlightenment, has chosen to disregard the voice of the early church as the nature of the Gospels.