Poetics, the study of the making of literary works, regards the gospels as literature, in contrast to the historical-critical approach. Petri Merenlahti makes the case that poetics offers a vital critical tool to interpreting the gospels. But he argues that poetics must also be 'historical', as perceptions of literary form and value are not fixed, but evolve and develop from one time and culture to another.
Merenlahti provides a comprehensive account of the development and the state of the art of poetics and narrative criticsm. Through scrupulous methodological discussion and detailed analysis of gospel narratives, he also offers a potentially highly productive future programme for historical poetics in gospel studies.