The New Testament in Its Literary Environment

By David E. Aune

An introduction to the literary forms of New Testament and early Christian writings in the context of the literature of the Judaic and Hellenistic traditions.

ISBN: 9780227679104


A study of the relationship between the New Testament writings and other literature of late antiquity. This comprehensive introduction identifies and describes the major literary genres and forms found in the New Testament and Early Christian non-canonical literature. Comparing them with those prevalent in Judaism and Hellenism, it sheds light on the conventions that the New Testament writers chose to follow.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 260

Trade Information JGEN

About the Author

David E. Aune is Professor of Religious Studies, Saint Xavier College, Chicago.


Foreword by Wayne A. Meeks

1. The Genre of the Gospels: Nonliterary and Literary “Parallels”
     “Gospel” as a Literary Form
     Modern Scholarship and the Gospels
     Genre Criticism and the Gospels
     The Gospels as a “Nonliterary” Genre
     Ancient Biographical Literature
     Greco-Roman Biographical Literature
     Israelite-Jewish “Biographical” Literature

2. The Gospels as Ancient Biography and the Growth of Jesus Literature
     The Form of the Gospels
     The Content of the Gospels
     The Function of the Gospels
     The Gospels as Greco-Roman Biography
     Later Jesus Literature

3. Luke-Acts and Ancient Historiography
     The Problem of Genre
     Hellenistic Historiography
     The Form and Content of History
     Constituent Literary Forms
     The Function of History
     Israelite Historiography
     Hellenistic Jewish Historiography
     Comparing Ancient Historiographies

4. The Generic Features of Luke-Acts and the Growth of Apostle Literature
     The Form of Luke-Acts
     Constituent Oral Forms
     Constituent Literary Forms
     The Content of Luke-Acts
     The Function of Luke-Acts
     Luke-Acts as General History
     The Apocryphal Acts

5. Letters in the Ancient World
     Greco-Roman Letters
     Aramaic and Jewish Epistolography

6. Early Christian Letters and Homilies
     Formal Literary Analysis
     Form-Critical Analysis
     Epistolary Styles of Discourse
     Types of Early Christian Letters
     Occasional Letters and Homilies
     General Letters and Homilies

7. The Apocalypse of John and Ancient Revelatory Literature
     What is Apocalypticism?
     Types of Ancient Revelatory Literature
     Early Christian Apocalypticism
     The Apocalypse of John
     Christian Apocalypses in Transition

Index of Selected Subjects
Index of Selected Biblical Passages

Endorsements and Reviews

In a period when literary and rhetorical criticism has once again become a major feature of New Testament study, the need for an authoritative treatment of the richly diverse literary context of the New Testament writings was becoming increasingly urgent. David Aune, one of very few New Testament scholars who can claim deep and thorough acquaintance with the full range of Jewish, Greek, and Latin literature of the period, has now met that need, and how! This magisterial handbook with its careful and lucid analysis of literary types and parallels and valuable bibliographical guidance will assuredly become a standard work, a constant companion, and a starting point for many a research paper and scholarly study over the next two decades.
James D. G. Dunn, Professor of Divinity, University of Durham

In recent years I have not read any introduction to the New Testament with as much interest and as extensive agreement as I found in reading David Aune’s The New Testament in Its Literary Environment. It is concise, precise, and sober, and at the same time it is written in a relevant and exciting style and offers an impressive quantity of information. Not only students and pastors but professors of New Testament studies as well can learn much from it.
Martin Hengel, Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, University of Tübingen

All of David Aune’s work is marked by a profound and wide knowledge of the Jewish and Graeco-Roman background of the New Testament. In this new book he has put this knowledge to excellent use in providing a comprehensive survey of the literary character of the books of the New Testament. He provides all the information necessary to enable the student to see the New Testament writings in their literary environment in the ancient world, and not simply as part of the canon of sacred Scripture.
I. Howard Marshall, Professor of New Testament Exegesis, King’s College, University of Aberdeen

This book provides a comprehensive guide to the relevant ancient documents, setting the New Testament back into its proper literary context and pointing out both the similarities to and the differences from the extant contemporary literature, both Greek and Jewish. The student will find it an invaluable introduction, packed with information and with ample reference to material for further study.
R. McL. Wilson, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Criticism, St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews