Monthly Archives: February 2007

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 14/WIFTA

6am Thursday 1st Mar 07:

Yes miracles of healing and exorcism would be memorable but what is important in the context of the gospels is that these were unlike the ‘normal’ works of healers and exorcists in the ancient world (1.27; 2.12; 3.22). read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 14

Meanwhile, have made a few minor changes/additions to points 3 and 6 (’emotional involvement’ and ‘point of view’) in my previous chapter 13 discussion since originally posting it.

14. The Gospel of John as Eyewitness Testimony

This chapter attempts to establish three points:

  1. that the author of the gospel of John identifies himself as “the Beloved Disciple” (– but exactly who that was B reserves for a future chapter)
  2. that the original ending of the gospel was 21:24-25
  3. that significant “we” references testify to an “authoritative we”

On these three points I found Bauckham’s conclusions (although not all his arguments) refreshingly persuasive. read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 13

13. Eyewitness memory

Richard Bauckham uses this chapter to relate modern studies in memory psychology “to gospel traditions in a systematic way”. RB acknowledges that others like Crossan have addressed memory studies before but B is attempting to apply them more specifically in a range of cases of eyewitness recall and as the sources of gospel episodes. B’s purpose for this study is once again to attest to the “authority” of the Jesus traditions in our canonical gospels:

How are we to gauge the reliability or otherwise of the gospel traditions? How far would they have been accurately preserved even within the memories of the eyewitnesses themselves? (p.319) read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 12b

We probably should envisage . . .

We probably should envisage a carefully compiled and formulated collection of Jesus traditions, incorporating other important eyewitness testimony as well as that of the Twelve themselves, but authorized by the Twelve as the official body of witnesses. (p.299)

This would surely be not too difficult to test. What would we expect the final compilation of this collection to look like? What features would it have that would clearly indicate it was “carefully compiled and formulated”, and that it incorporated different classes of eyewitness testimonies? read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 12a

12. Anonymous Tradition or Eyewitness Testimony

Eyewitnesses: a superfluous hypothesis?
Bauckham argues that the primary sources of the gospel authors (following best historical practice by ancient standards) were the eyewitnesses. He therefore takes issue with Dunn when he says:

[ I]t is almost self-evident that the Synoptists proceeded by gathering and ordering Jesus tradition which had already been in circulation, that is, had already been well enough known to various churches, for at least some years if not decades. (p.291 — Dunn p.250)

But then Bauckham seems to admit that Dunn’s statement here is quite sufficient as an explanation for our gospel materials when he responds: read more »

Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Interlude

So far Bauckham has not addressed two of the most graphically told gospel scenes to explain how his eyewitness hypothesis accounts for them: his series of trial appearances and scourgings and his resurrection appearances. read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 11/WIFTA

Added about a day after the original post:

Knew it would be a mistake to rush that last chapter. (wifta: ‘what i forgot to add’). Had originally intended to address Bauckham’s Theissen reference:

Certainly something happened when the traditions were appropriated by the writers of the Gospels, but it could not have been so discontinuous with the attitude of the oral traditions themselves. The nature of the traditions . . . shows that they made reference to the real past history of Jesus. The fact that this is stated in the excellent textbook The Historical Jesus, by Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz, shows how far the mainstream of Gospel scholarship has moved . . . (p.277)

B’s reference to the gospels recording “real past history” is to pp.102-104 of Theissen. Here are a few quotations from those pages in Theissen: read more »

On Paul meaning The Small

Blogs are for thinking as we go so here is a thought on the run —

We all know that the name of the leading apostle, Simon, was changed to Peter, to mean Rock. (Matthew 16:18) Early Christian literature, including the church’s interpretation of the Jewish scriptures, has much to say about the theological imagery of “the/a rock” and from this literature we can sometimes appreciate what the name Peter may well have meant among those early Christians.

Paul was clearly the leading apostle among the gentiles, and the name was, like Peter, not original. Saul the persecutor was known, after Acts 13:9, as Paul, but the author of Acts gives the readers no explanation for this name change. read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 11

11. Transmitting the Jesus Traditions

In this and the next chapter Bauckham presents his case for the manner in which the Jesus traditions were transmitted by the eyewitnesses of Jesus, in particular by the Twelve as represented by Peter. He claims that: read more »

Ancient Novels and the Gospels

The following notes are taken from pages 74-76 of Mary Ann Tolbert’s Sowing the Gospel: Mark’s World in Literary-Historical Perspective (1989). A wonderful collection of ancient novels can be found in Reardon’s Collected Ancient Greek Novels (1989). Chariton, Xenophon of Ephesus, Achilles Tatius, Longus and others make fascinating reading as they bring us closer to the literary culture in which our gospel authors themselves were embedded. Modern novels are about psychological motives and development. Not so ancient novels. They were about plot and action and the principles of character illustrated through the action. (Tolbert also cites Kermode, whom I feel a little embarrassed to mention again here for who knows how many times now.)

Following is a summary of the characteristics of ancient novels that must affect our views of the gospels, and after the summary I will list a few possible implications. read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 10

(P.S. on chapter 9: another interesting thing I learned in the previous chapter was that the notion of “translating” a text among some ancients was nothing like our concept. Josephus says he was going to make a translation of the Hebrew scriptures, no more or less, but of course he does do much more and less in his complete retelling of them. That point pretty much allows anyone to interpret Papias’s claim of Matthew being a translation from an original Aramaic as meaning anything.)

10. Models of Oral Tradition

Bauckham attempts in this chapter to place the eyewitnesses within the context of the scholarly models of the processes of transmission of gospel traditions. read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 9

9. Papias on Mark and Matthew

In this chapter Bauckham investigates the words of Papias to further test his claim that Peter’s teachings were indeed the direct source of Mark’s gospel. I found this chapter the most “meaty” so far in Bauckham’s book and enjoyed the wide-ranging discussion and up-front way he addressed the arguments of other scholars rather than relegating contrary thoughts to footnote citations. read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 8/WIFTA

I have completely re-written the last section of my chapter 8 review (the discussion of the fleeing naked youth) after discovering I had initially misread B’s citation of Brown re symbolic interpretations.

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Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 8

8. Anonymous Persons in Mark’s Passion Narrative

I enjoyed Backham’s opening paragraph. Until reading this I had not had opportunity to discover some of the more detailed reasons scholars have wondered if the Passion Narrative pre-existed independently before being incorporated into Mark’s gospel. It is logical to conclude that if an author writes the bulk of his book as a chain-like series of loosely connected episodes, but then concludes with a complex of episodes in which each episode presupposes some other episode, and the presence of one hangs on the webbed links to the others, — it is logical to conclude that the latter was not original to the author who composed the first part. (Unfortunately the logic is not conclusive since one sees exactly the same type of two-part book mirrored in Homer’s Odyssey — a loosely chained sequence of discrete events followed by a highly integrated complex of events.)

Bauckham sums up the main thrust of his “argument” till now as attempting to explain why some characters are named when the norm appears t be for characters to be unnamed. In chapter 8 B considers those contrary cases where the fact that some characters are UNnamed appears to be unusual. read more »