The Epistles for All Christians

Epistolary Literature, Circulation, and The Gospels for All Christians


In The Epistles for All Christians, David Smith argues that epistolary literature offers analogous evidence of circulation to the Gospels. Since Richard Bauckham’s edited volume The Gospels for All Christians was published in 1998, debate over the validity of the contributors’ claims that the Gospels were written for “all Christians” has revolved around interpretation. Smith brings circulation to bear on the conversation.
Studying ancient media practices of publication and circulation and using social network theory, Smith makes a compelling case that if the evangelists did not expect their texts to circulate they would be atypical.

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David A. Smith, Ph.D. (2017), St. Mary’s University Twickenham, is Lecturer in Bible and Theology at Johnson University. His latest publication is “Paul’s ‘Friends’: Rethinking Paul in Light of His Social Network,” Stone-Campbell Journal, 22/1 (2019).
List of Figures

 1 Chapter Summaries

1 Refocusing the Lenses
 1 Interpretation vs. Circulation
 2 What About the Epistles?
 3 Correcting the Vision

2 Expected Circulation of Early Christian Epistolary Literature
 1 Circulation to Multiple Locales
 2 Circulation to “All Christians”
 3 Conclusion

3 Actual Practice of Early Christian Circulation
 1 Transmission
 2 Catholicizing Tendencies
 3 Letter Collections
 4 Manuscripts
 5 Allusions
 6 Circulation of Books and the Gospels
 7 Conclusions and Summary

4 Circulation and Social Networks
 1 Social Networks and Early Christianity
 2 Social Network Analysis of Early Christian Letters
 3 Conclusion
 1 This Study
 2 Future Study
Anyone interested in the audience of the Gospels or early Christian literature, and anyone interested in ancient media practices.
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