AND THE ABSENCE OF RABBINIC BIOGRAPHY:
SOME IMPLICATIONS OF THE
Richard A. Burridge
It is a privilege and a delight to contribute this essay in honour of David Catchpole. I first met him at the British New Testament Conference in September 1986, when I was delivering a paper which contained the first public airing of the substantive idea of my doctoral work on the genre of the gospels.1 I little expected to find myself a year later appointed as Lazenby Chaplain to the University of Exeter, whereupon David invited me to do some New Testament teaching with him in the Department of Theology. It was through this experience of teaching together both in the university and in extra-mural activities that I came to appreciate David's passion for the traditio-historical method of studying the gospels. At the same time his support and encouragement for me to finish my doctorate and get it published was as constant as it was helpful.
Therefore I have chosen to draw on this material and develop it further in this essay to look at how my work on gospel genre might affect our chosen area of christological controversy. It will begin with a brief summary of my argument about gospel genre and biography, which leads to the concentrated christological focus on the person of Jesus. We then consider some implications of this for christological development and controversies. Finally we will discuss the question of why no biographies were written of other Jewish rabbis in the first century; this notable absence suggests that the biographical
1 I have to admit it was David's Somerset County Cricket Club sweatshirt which
attracted my attention as a fellow supporter! Many of our subsequent debates on
the New Testament, including some of the ideas in this chapter, were conducted
on days out at the cricket—and I wish him many happy days at the Taunton
ground in his future retirement.