Chapter 5 Student Reading Guide

From Oral Traditions To Written Gospels

1. What does it mean to speak about the “oral traditions” behind the Gospels? How does the length of this period of oral transmission affect the written record?

2. Discuss the unprecedented spread of the Christian religion between the time of Jesus’ death and the writing of the New Testament Gospels (i.e., within sixty years the religion spread from a small group of disciples to all over the eastern Mediterranean regions). In what contexts did people tell stories about what Jesus said and did? Who would have told these stories? What might they have emphasized in the stories as they told them?

3. Does it seem possible to you that some of the stories about Jesus were modified as they were told and retold? Why would they have been? What kind of changes might have been made to them?