The gospels are full of memorable vignettes – Pontius Pilate washing his hands, Jesus healing a blind man, Mary Magdalene weeping at the cross. It’s no surprise that these scenes have an established place in Western art, literature and culture. But what do we really know about any of these characters and the early Christian literature that they inhabit? Drawing on recent research into the transmission of oral traditions, the effects of memory, fictionalization, patriarchal bias and ancient biography, the present lecture examines the gospels in their first century contexts and assesses how much we can know about these fascinating yet elusive characters.
BIOGRAPHY Helen Bond is Professor of Christian Origins and Head of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. She specialises in the socio-political context of first century Judaea and the narrative world of the gospels. She is the author of a number of studies on biblical characters and a regular contributor to TV documentaries.