Bible Review 9:1, February 1993

Bible Books

Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development

Helmut Koster (Philadelphia/London:Trinity Press International/SCM Press Ltd., 1990) 480 pp., $19.95 paper

The apostolic fathers were not familiar With the Synoptic Gospels per se, but instead drew their apparent quotations, of the Gospels from oral traditions that continued to circulate down into the second century. Thus argued Helmut Koester in his 1954 dissertation at the University of Marburg directed by the German theologian Rudolph Bultmann. Ever since, Koester, the John H. Morison Professor of New Testament and Winn professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School (and BR columnist), has devoted a good portion of his productive career to studying the problems posed by the ancient Christian gospels, both canonical and non-canonical. His concern to understand the history of the gospel traditions has now culminated at the pinnacle of his career in an important study that has already begun to make a significant impact on the discipline.

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