Applying a Multidimensional Cognitive Model to Gospel Genre Studies

  • Elizabeth Evans Shively (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


This presentation offers an interdisciplinary approach to gospel genre studies, using the Gospel of Mark as a test case. The current consensus in gospel genre research is that Mark (and the other canonical gospels) belongs to the Greco-Roman biography genre, largely based on outdated literary theories. I argue that instead of looking for “the” genre of the gospels, we should shift the focus to their “genre structure.” And instead of accounting for Mark’s genre largely in light of formal literary features, we should account for it in light of the its earliest producers and users in their social contexts. My chief argument is that the earliest evangelist invented the gospel genre by recruiting contemporaneous literary genres in order to address a certain situation and for particular communicative and pragmatic aims. Crucially, my approach shifts the focus of genre studies from textual properties alone to the cognition and contexts involved in hearing or reading. My strategy is to integrate insights from rhetorical (New Rhetoric), cognitive, and literary genre theories in order to produce a multidimensional analytical model for understanding and explaining gospel genre. Yet an overarching cognitive model provides the conceptual glue for this model (M. Sinding; G. Steen). In particular, I employ conceptual blending to account for the generic mixture and change that generated the Gospel of Mark (and its imitators) in the dimensions of its action, rhetorical situation, and discourse; and for how its producers and users make meaning.
Period19 Jun 201923 Jun 2019
Event titleCognitive Futures in the Arts and the Humanities: Paradigms of Understanding-Sharing Cognitive Worlds
Event typeConference
LocationMainz, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Gospels
  • Genre
  • Conceptual Blending
  • New Rhetoric