I have some unfortunate news to report, followed by some good news. The unfortunate news is that my debate with Andrew Pitts, which was scheduled for next week, fell through, due to the fact that we couldn’t agree upon the debate prompt for the discussion. I had wanted the discussion to focus on 1) the literary genre of the Gospels, and 2) how the question of genre affects their historical reliability. On the other hand, Pitts wanted to focus solely on the question of genre, noting that he wasn’t sure if his research lends itself to answering the question of historical reliability. Since I thought that a debate solely on genre, without the component of historical reliability, would be of less interest to readers of this blog, and since we couldn’t agree upon the direction of the conversation, the debate was canceled.
The good news, however, is that cancelling the debate frees me up to focus on other work, and I have decided to use that time to write book reviews. I noted in my previous announcement about the debate, that there are four new publications by Christian authors on my radar, one of which is Craig Keener’s recent volume Biographies and Jesus: What Does It Mean for the Gospels to Be Biographies?. Since my dissertation focuses on situating the Gospels within the genre of ancient biography, Keener’s new volume is certainly of interest to my current research. I decided to review chapter 6 of the volume–“Otho: A Targeted Comparison of Suetonius’ Biography and Tacitus’ History, with Implications for the Gospels’ Historical Reliability”–which is written by Keener himself. This chapter is particularly relevant to my own research background, since I wrote my M.A. thesis on Suetonius, and have likewise written multiple graduate papers on the Roman civil war of 69 CE, also dubbed the “Year of the Four Emperors.” My review of Keener’s chapter can be found in the subsequent post.