Jesus Tradition – early Christian traditions from and about Jesus – plays an important role in New Testament letters, not only in the Gospels and Corpus Paulinum, but also in the seven Catholic Epistles (the epistles of James, I and II Peter, I John, and Jude, which are addressed to the universal Church rather than to an individual or a particular church). This dissertation revolves around the relationship between the Catholic Epistles and the traditions about Jesus that have informed the Gospels.
Based on the research, two important observations can be made. First of all, there is a fundamental unity in the witness of the Catholic Epistles regarding their reliance upon and appropriation of Jesus Tradition. The same Jesus can be recognized throughout all Catholic Epistles (with the possible exception of Jude, since its brevity does not supply enough information for clarity about its relation to Jesus Tradition), and this Jesus is not merely a theological construct, but a historical person, very much in line with the Jesus from historical Jesus research.
Second, a fundamental unity is observable between the canonical Gospels, Corpus Paulinum and the Catholic Epistles. All three corpora are consciously witnessing to Jesus. Each corpus has its own distinct way of doing this, and the Catholic Epistles can be seen as witnessing Jesus from an apostolic perspective.
Roelof Alkema is serving as a pastor at De Stadskerk in Groningen, The Netherlands.