CHAPTER X
LITERARY TYPES

The character of a writing is partly determined by the class or genre to which it belongs. The writer will work quite differently if his subject is to be expressed in poetry or in prose, as an argument or a narrative, a novel, a biography, a textbook, a sermon, a letter, an apocalypse or a tragedy. And the reader of each work will form a more understanding judgment about it if he can place it in its proper literary setting and identify the literary class to which it belongs. To classify Luke's work seems, therefore, the beginning of wisdom.

All four of the gospels appear at first sight to fall under a familiar category--the biography. We call them lives of Christ like our modern "lives" and we naturally seek to understand them by the ways of modern biographies; or if we are more careful and learned, by the ancient biographical methods. We know that the βίος as a definite type of literature existed in the days of Luke and in the Hellenistic culture to which he belonged. The Parallel Lives by Plutarch, which were familiar to many generations of Englishmen, come from a contemporary of Luke and classical students know of other examples in Latin as well as Greek. Tacitus' Agricola and Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars have as subjects statesmen and men of action, as do the biographies of Plutarch. But leaders of thought, philosophers and teachers also sat for portraits to the biographers. Their lives were not so full of public incident, but private anecdotes and quotations from their

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