|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
the book? For centuries, the ways people discuss the gospels have been shaped by later ideas that have more to do with the printing press and modern notions of the author than ancient writing and reading practices. In Gospels before the Book, Matthew D. C. Larsen challenges several subtle yet
problematic assumptions about authors, books, and publication at work in early Christian studies. He then explores a host of under-appreciated elements of ancient textual culture such as unfinished texts, accidental publication, post-publication revision, and the existence of multiple authorized
versions of the same work. Turning to the gospels, he argues that the earliest readers and users of the text we now call the Gospel according to Mark treated it not as a book published by an author, but as an unfinished, open, and fluid collection of notes (hypomnmata). In such a scenario, the
Gospel according to Matthew would not be regarded as a separate book published by a different author, but as a continuation of the same unfinished gospel tradition. Similarly it is not the case that, of the five different endings in the textual tradition we now call the Gospel according to Mark, one
is right and the others are wrong. Rather each represents its own effort to fill a perceived deficiency in the gospel. Larsen offers a new methodological framework for future scholarship on early Christian gospels.