Richard Bauckham writes in “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: the Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony” that the Twelve had been companions with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry and were chosen to be an authoritative body to act as eyewitness guarantors of the preservation and transmission of message of his life and resurrection.
This is a widespread orthodox view of the origin and role of the Twelve in the Christian churches today and I would be interested in tracking down the first time this view appears in any of our sources. In the book of Acts the Twelve are for the purpose of being a witness of the resurrection of Jesus, and the requirement that they had to have been with Jesus from the baptism of John appears to be specified as a requirement for just that — to be a witness to his resurrection (only). The most obvious connection between being with Jesus before his resurrection (‘from the baptism of John’) and being qualified to be a witness of the resurrection would appear to be that those who witnessed the resurrection also could testify that the one resurrected was the same Jesus who had lived in the flesh. But I return to Acts in a future post.
One of our earliest sources for Christian origins is Justin Martyr writing around 150 ce. He lived and traveled in the area north of Judea and in Rome and wrote to persuade Jews and gentiles of the Truth and Goodness of the newly emergent Christian belief. Most scholars accept that he knew and made reference to some early form of our gospels when he cited what he described as “The Memoirs of the Apostles”. Continue reading “The Twelve: Justin Martyr vs Richard Bauckham”
The main point of the following is to present reasons for understanding the author of the Pastoral Epistles was not drawing on our canonical Acts for his Paul’s biographical data but on popular oral legends circulating about Paul and that became incorporated into the Acts of Paul. (I do not discuss the discrepancies between the Pastoral Epistles and our canonical Acts assuming they are well enough known already.)
I have compiled a list of similarities between the Pastoral Letters of Paul (mostly 2 Timothy) and the Acts of Paul from Dennis MacDonald’s The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon. MacDonald discusses three possible models to explain these similarities. (Note that I do not refer to all of MacDonald’s discussion points. There is more in his book. So presume any weaknesses here are the fault of the transmitter, not the original author.) Continue reading “Pastoral Epistles and the Acts of Paul”
Symbolic Status & Authoritative Status
Having passed over any need to argue that the Twelve really were an entity selected by Jesus B proceeds to explain the symbolic and prophetic significance of this group, symbolic of the hope of restoration of an idealized Israel, and prophetic of what God was doing through Jesus. Continue reading “Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 5b”
Way back on another website I summarized a few very basic principles to keep in mind when analyzing biblical texts — specifically for Old Testament texts but the principles apply to historical analysis of any texts — gospels included.
Till I get to finishing off chapter 5 this might be an appropriate place to stick a link to these basics (The Bible: History or Story?) because they are also a clear flag to show where I am coming from in my reading of the gospels and biblical studies. They all apply to B’s assumptions (not only his of course) except that the 4th listed in B’s case should be nuanced from “many generations” to “a single generation”.
They are far from comprehensive, they are basic “common” sense, they do not presuppose which way to read texts, and they help guard against bringing unconscious presumptions into the texts we read. We need to find evidence (not more assumptions or hypotheses) before deciding which way to read texts.
The link above is from my In Search of Ancient Israel.
5. The Twelve
The role of named individuals in the formulation and transmission of traditions of Jesus’ words and deeds largely disappeared from the normal awareness of New Testament scholars as a result of the form-critical movement in Gospels scholarship in the early twentieth century. (p.93)
Bauckham continues with Birger Gerhardsson’s dismissive tone of critics who “did not think much of the information which the ancient church provides concerning persons behind the Gospels”. This is quite astonishing given what is known about the methods and agendas and selective survival of writings of ancient church authors. Continue reading “Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 5a”
More afterthoughts, oversights, erratum, from the chapter 4 posts:
4th Feb 07, 9.00 am Continue reading “Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses Ch 4/WIFTA”
Bauckham follows with a speculative set of digressions suggesting possible reasons why some names were more popular than others. Some, he suggests, were popular because they recalled names with anti-Hellenistic associations of liberation or conquest (e.g. Hasmonean names); others were popular for the opposite reason — because they jelled so easily with similar sounding Hellenistic names (e.g. Simon/Simeon)! Continue reading “Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 4b”
4. Palestinian Jewish Names
This chapter “temporarily steps aside from our investigation of the eyewitnesses” to explore a topic that “will usefully inform” that study when resumed (p.67). Unfortunately Bauckham does not clarify with any precision his terms here or offer cogently supported rationales for accepting some names and rejecting others from the lists he works with. I was left wondering if he was trying to establish a point about the gospels with tools that were simply not designed for the job. Continue reading “Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 4a”
Have updated my collected after-thoughts on my chapter 1 /WIFTA In brief, I remark that there is simply no such “phenomenon” as “named and unnamed characters” in the bulk of literary fiction and nonfiction stories that “cries out for explanation”. That an author does not name every single character making an appearance is simply to avoid the clutter of overburdening an audience with too much pointless detail. In the case of the first written of our gospels, Mark, it is clear that when the author does decide to employ a name for a character it is for the mnemonic/theological/message point of aligning an event with a name representative of that event. Thus in a healing of raising a girl “from sleep” we have the name “enlightened/awakened”, Jairus; in the restoring of a man from the shame of begging to following the royal “son of David”, we have the Son of Honour, Bartimaeus; and others I have also mentioned in earlier posts.
Meanwhile, another thought here: Continue reading “Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Other, 1”
Have now completed reading Chapter 4, Palestinian Jewish Names. Had feared it would be more technical and complex than the effort was worth but as questions arose I got drawn into far more than I ever expected. There is much more of interest in this chapter than I anticipated and look forward to writing up my notes on it.
With magical electronic spreadsheet technology and open source conversion software I have been able to prepare my own tables extracted from Bauckham’s — which on first glance look to me like they invite a different hypothesis from B’s for the selections of names. The hypothesis I am thinking of has been suggested several times by others already although I understand it has not found ready widespread support in mainstream scholarship. In a few days I hope to re-emerge from real life work and get my commentary on chapter 4 up here. Meanwhile, for those who like tables here is what I will be basing some of my commentary on….. (They are all pdf files.)
Names in Mark
Download (PDF, 41KB)
Names in Matthew
Download (PDF, 41KB)
Names in Luke
Download (PDF, 42KB)
Names in John
Download (PDF, 40KB)
Names in Acts
Download (PDF, 42KB)
There appear to be some errors in the tables in B’s book which I have not always corrected, and no doubt there will be some errors in my own. I also am aware that I have not been consistent in listing only those names B selects according to his criteria. And I also realize I have listed Simon Peter as both Simon and Peter. But feel free to point out any obvious errors and oversights.
Hoo boy! Half my examples in my old “poor and Q” argument were from the earliest chapters of Luke — yet of course there are good reasons for treating these as later additions to the original gospel. I’m wonder if any attempt to divine the origins of the gospels from textual studies is doomed given the strong likelihood of so many layers of redactions they were subjected to. Who is to say that the literal poor theme in Luke was not the work of a later redactor — or even original and with further accretions being added from the same “school” in response to various dialogue challenges. If there are reasons for taking Luke as initially dominant in Asia and part of the quatrodeciman types, an area in some rivalry with the Rome — wonder if there might be some grounds for a poor vs rich type “dialogue” there. But I’m just making all this up … thinking aloud only……
Why do I always seem to catch up with the older work last? Here are my notes from Alfred Loisy’s Origins of the New Testament (originally 1936) on the evidence for tradition concerning the Gospel of John.
The Gospel of John was a latecomer and “the elders” in Asia, specifically Ephesus, who were pushing for its acceptance had to compete against the synoptic gospels. To make the new gospel acceptable at such a late date it was necessary to attribute to its author a very long lifespan — from being a young man in the time of Jesus and living up till the time of Trajan (98-117). The Elders were able to say that they had conversed with this very elder John in the early years of the second century. (If he had been 20 at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion he would have been 90 years old in 100 ce.) In reality the apostle John was never in Asia but was confused with John the Elder there.
Loisy arrives at the above scenario from the evidence in Irenaeus, the Gospel of John itself, and the testimony of Papias. Continue reading “Loisy on The Gospel of John”
8 pm 27th Jan 07
Forgot to add another theological (not eyewitness verification) reason for the naming of Mary mother of James and Joses at the end of Mark’s gospel. Early in the gospel the author has Jesus ask who is his true mother. He employs a scene of his physical mother not being able to reach her son for the crowd (again– as in similar stories in this gospel — foreshadowing the time Jesus will be unreachable behind the door of the tomb) to draw the distinction between his spiritual family and his physical family. At the end of the gospel the author pointedly refers to Jesus’ mother as the mother of James and Joses, — Jesus is omitted (unlike earlier and 6.3). Following Weeden, Tolbert, et al, …. The author is telling the reader that his earthly mother, like the twelve, have no part in him. (Other gospel authors would later correct Mark.) His readers, rather, are his true spiritual family. So his mother is looking in the wrong place for him. (The Christ is not here — as was already alluded to in Mark 13. But there is so much more to this that it is really another topic.) The point is, this is enough to suggest that the mention of the Mary mother of James and Joses here is for theological reasons first and last.
10 pm. 26th Jan 07
Forgot to add that Schmidt does not himself single out the country origin of the bearer of the weapon of execution in the Roman triumphal procession. Continue reading “Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 3/WIFTA”
3. Names in the Gospel Traditions
In this chapter Bauckham discusses the names in the Gospels apart from those of the Twelve and of the public figures, proposing that they were eyewitnesses of the “traditions” to which their names are attached and that they continued to live as authoritative living witnesses to guarantee the veracity of their experiences. Continue reading “Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 3”