Hurtado on Genre

Nick Norelli has a quote up from Larry Hurtado that I think is interesting:

In practical terms “genre” refers to the features of a writing that set up certain expectations in readers and that dispose them to treat a given writing in a particular way. Thus, for example, we know to suspend disbelief in reading stories in the modern genre of science fiction, whereas we should demand to know the experimental demonstration behind the results of a scientific paper. We know we are to react differently to the report of a violent murder in the newspaper than to the account of such a crime in a murder mystery novel. The practical question about the Gospels is whether they exhibit features from the wider literary practice of the time that appear to have been intended to dispose readers to respond to these writings in particular ways, or at least would have had such an effect upon readers.

Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, 279-80.

Of course, the question of genre is applicable to all texts and ought to be the first step a person takes in interpretation. Martin Goodman is fond of pointing this out.

Thanks for the quote, Nick.


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