This is going to be a multi-part reply to a most extraordinary chapter. In a bizarre way that Bauckham would not appreciate, B will find himself in league with his post-modernist devil against the intellectual values of the Enlightenment. The main differences between the two are firstly that B will often be arguing against a straw-man Enlightenment, and secondly that he will subtly shift definitions and contextual meanings of his terms as he proceeds.
In the end, Bauckham will in effect argue that the Holocaust, being a “uniquely unique” event, is at “the unspeakable horror” end of a “continuum of uncommon human experience”, with the miracles of the New Testament (also “uniquely unique”) at the opposing end of that continuum, which is “the awe and wonder” end. Further, for a truly intellectually honest and consistent reader of the respective “testimonies”, acceptance of one end of the continuum as an historical reality compels the acceptance of the other end. (Take your pick which end you would like to start from.)
In the course of the argument Bauckham will deplore one historian’s use of a metaphor from torture to describe his approach to evidence: to compel a document to yield evidence “in spite of itself”. Yet he will be oblivious to any irony when he himself uses the Holocaust as an exemplar of an epistemological method which will “demonstrate the truth” of a book that is widely seen among its victims as sharing a large measure of responsibility for the racism that led to the Holocaust.
I hope to address each portion of Bauckham’s discourse and expose the flaws in his pathway to his extraordinary conclusions: that the sources of the Gospels are demonstrably as valid and validating as the sources for the Holocaust, and that the theology that accompanies them is equally “true”.
18. The Jesus of Testimony
In this concluding chapter we must look more closely at this category of testimony, its epistemological status, its role in historiography and its significance as a theological category. (pp.472-3 of JATEW)
B is going to seek a common category of testimony that can be verified as a having constant epistemological status across a range of historiography, ancient and modern, and the gospels.
to be contd…