Conceptions of Gospel & Legitimacy
in Early Christianity

Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament No. 324

By: James A. Kelhoffer
June 2014
Mohr Siebeck
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9783161526367
422 Pages
$277.50 Hardcover


The struggles to define what "gospel" was and to bolster a leader’s or a group’s legitimacy amidst inter-ecclesial competitors are hallmarks of much early Christian literature. Commencing with James A. Kelhoffer’s inaugural lecture at Uppsala University, this volume makes available sixteen revised and updated articles, originally published between 1998 and 2013, focusing on method, "gospel" and legitimacy. In regard to method, it is argued that the so-called "historical-critical method" should not be construed as just one method in contrast to (or, as an alternative to) newer methods and approaches to biblical studies. Kelhoffer’s investigations of "gospel" in early Christian literature include when εὐαγγέλιον came to designate a written "Gospel," whether Basilides of Alexandria wrote a Gospel, Paul’s concept of Heilsgeschichte , and patristic debates about the original conclusion to Mark. Examinations of struggles for legitimacy survey a range of topics and literature - the prayers attributed to the Maccabees, miracles as a confirmation of Paul’s legitimacy as an apostle, Luke’s apologetic portrayal of Paul as a former persecutor of the church, a readiness to withstand persecution as a source of authentication according to Paul and the Revelation of John, Hippolytus of Rome’s attacks against miracle-working ‘heretics,’ and the allegedly higher status of maimed "confessors" at the Council of Nicaea. Those already familiar with Kelhoffer’s Miracle and Mission (2000), Diet of John the Baptist (2005) and Persecution, Persuasion and Power (2010) will find in this volume refreshing insights suggested but not developed in his other books.


Survey of contents:

I. Reflections on Method
New Testament Exegesis as an Academic Discipline with Relevance for Other Disciplines - Early Christian Studies among the Academic Disciplines - The Significance of the Earthly Jesus in Matthew

II. Conceptions of "Gospel" in Early Christianity
"How Soon a Book" Revisited: ΕUΑΓΓΕΛΙΟΝ as a Reference to "Gospel" Materials in the First Half of the Second Century - Basilides’s Gospel and Exegetica ( Treatises ) - The Struggle to DefineHeilsgeschichte : Paul on the Origins of the Christian Tradition - The Witness of Eusebius’s ad Marinum and Other Christian Writings to the Original Conclusion of Mark

III. Struggles for Legitimacy
The Maccabees at Prayer: Pro- and Anti-Hasmonean Tendencies in the Prayers of First and Second Maccabees - Suffering as Defense of Paul’s Apostolic Authority - Paul and Justin Martyr on the Miraculous: A Comparison of Appeals to Authority - The Gradual Disclosure of Paul’s Violence against Christians in Acts as a Defense of the Lukan Paul - Revelation’s Date, the Imperial Cult and the Value of Christians’ Suffering in Revelation 1-3 - "Hippolytus" and Magic: An Examination of Elenchos IV.28-42 in Light of the Greek Magical Papyri - The Search for Confessors at the Council of Nicaea

IV. Varia
Suppressing Anger in Early Christianity: Examples from the Pauline Tradition - Early Christian Ascetic Practices and Biblical Interpretation: The Witnesses of Galen and Tatian