Daily Archives: 2007-02-15 21:36:15 UTC

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 »

Pastoral Epistles & the Acts of Paul (+ canonical Acts)

The Acts of Paul show a remarkable series of affinities with the pastoral epistles, particularly 2 Timothy. There are differences as well, but they are the sorts of differences that one expects to find in stories repeated orally. Someone is labelled as a coppersmith, now was that Alexander or Hermogenes? Paul always teams up with “two’s”: now was it Demas and Hermogenes or Phylelus and Hermogenes in this particular scene? That sort of variation.

In both the Acts of Paul and 2 Timothy we find:

  • Onesiphorus welcoming Paul
  • Paul staying with Aquilla and Priscilla
  • Paul imprisoned and rescued from a lion
  • Paul being deserted by his followers and defending himself in a court alone
  • Demas deserting Paul for love of material things
  • 2 false missionaries preaching the resurrection was a past event
  • Persecutions at Antioch, Iconium and Lystra (although 2 Timothy’s account contradicts the circumstances in both the Acts of Paul and our canonical Acts)
  • et al etc etc et al

A full list of the differences and citations can be found online at Acts of Paul and the Pastoral Epistles.

Most commentators have concluded that the Acts of Paul draws on the Pastorals as a source for its narrative details. If so, as MacDonald discusses in The Legend and the Apostle, one is unable to explain the differences between the details in the Acts of Paul and 2 Timothy. Why the different names for the 2 missionaries who are undermining households by preaching the resurrection is a past event? for example.

The explanation that does explain both the similarities and the differences, and is consistent with the types of differences we find (mentioned above), and that is discussed in MacDonald’s book and in part sourced to Harnack in Hennecke’s New Testament Apocrphya, is that the author of the Acts of Paul was relying on oral traditions. MacDonald argues that the author of the Pastorals was likewise drawing on the same or similar oral traditions.

Historicity of canonical Acts?
One sometimes hears that evidence for the historicity of our canonical Acts lies in part in its accord with names, places and events in the “genuine Pauline epistles”. If the mere fact that names, places and events appear in two genres of literature by different authors is testimony to historicity, then the same argument would inform us that the Acts of Paul and Thecla is also historical. Unless one says that comparing the “genuine” Pauline letters with the Pastorals is “no fair”. 2 responses:

  1. the fact that names, places and events found in “genuine diaries” are repeated in a later story does not and never can be a criterion for assuming the story to be as “true” as the original diaries or letters (c.f. movies “based on” books or real life events);
  2. how is it possible to decide which letters of Paul are genuine from the self-attestation of the epistles themselves? See my notes from of Ancient Epistolary Fictions by Rosenmeyer.