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Connecting GospelsBeyond the Canonical/Non-Canonical Divide$
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Francis Watson and Sarah Parkhouse

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198814801

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198814801.001.0001

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Jesus and Early Christian Identity Formation

Jesus and Early Christian Identity Formation

Reflections on the Significance of the Jesus Figure in Early Christian Gospels

(p.233) 11 Jesus and Early Christian Identity Formation
Connecting Gospels

Jens Schröter

Oxford University Press

Whether they came to be regarded as canonical or non-canonical, the many gospels produced in the early Christian centuries shed light on the ways in which Jesus was received and interpreted from sometimes conflicting perspectives. The dividing line between ‘accepted’ and ‘rejected’ writings, which emerges during the second and third centuries, is blurred by the fact that canonical and non-canonical gospels draw on similar or related traditions. They also overlap in their perspectives on Jesus’ earthly activity and his relationship to God or the heavenly realm. This chapter aims to provide an overview of approaches to the significance of the Jesus figure in the context of early Christian identity formation. In spite of relatively early recognition of differences that led some gospels but not others to attain ‘canonical’ status, the manuscript evidence from papyri finds indicates a more fluid relationship between texts on either side of the canonical boundary.

Keywords:   canon, manuscripts, papyri, non-canonical gospels, identity

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