Category Archives: Bauckham: Jesus & Eyewitnesses


Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 17

by Neil Godfrey

17. Polycrates and Irenaeus on John

Polycrates on John

Bauckham proceeds to show that Polycrates knew that John the author of the Gospel was not the Son of Zebedee, member of the Twelve, John. He begins with his letter to the bishop of Rome over the ‘correct’ date on which to observe ‘Easter’ (or the ‘Passover/Last Supper’). The extract is from the ccel site (Eusebius, H.E. 5.24.2-7): read more »

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 16:Appendix

by Neil Godfrey

Appendix: Papias as Eusebius’s Source in Hist. Eccl. 3.24.5-13?

At the end of chapter 16 Bauckham addresses the argument of Charles Hill that Eusebius paraphrased a section of Papias that discussed the gospels of John and Luke.

Hill’s argument contradicts Bauckham’s by implication: read more »


Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 16

by Neil Godfrey

16. Papias on John

A second (hitherto unknown) inner circle
In this chapter Bauckham argues that the author of the Gospel of John was John the Elder, and that it was this John who was the Beloved Disciple (BD). He begins by comparing the Synoptic “sources” with John’s. He reminds us that it was Peter, James and John (the Sons of Zebedee) who were the inner circle in the Synoptic Gospels, and that it was the Twelve who were the eyewitness authorities behind Mark’s gospel, first of the Synoptics. In the Gospel of John, on the other hand, we find that the synoptic trio of Peter, James and John, no longer occupy such a privileged place. They have been replaced, argues B, by the BD. But the BD is not alone. He is part of another circle, read more »


Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 15b

by Neil Godfrey

(forgive tardy responses to some comments on earlier entries — will get there soon)

A Comparison with Luke-Acts
Bauckham continues to search for ways to treat the Gospel of John’s witness motif as something other than a metaphor:

  1. He interprets the reference to “from the beginning” in Luke’s Prologue to eyewitnesses being “with Jesus” from the beginning of his ministry, and relates this to the first speech of Peter in Acts that announced a replacement for Judas had to have been with Jesus from the time of the baptism of John. Both Luke and Acts clearly speak historically. Bauckham concludes that it follows that the author of the Gospel of John must therefore have had a similar historiographic intent with reference to “from the beginning”. Of course there is no logical reason why one author’s historiography should be vicariously implanted into another author’s metaphor. read more »


Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 15a

by Neil Godfrey

15. The Witness of the Beloved Disciple

Bauckham opens this chapter with:

In the last chapter we demonstrated that, according to John 21:24, the Beloved Disciple was both the primary witness on whose testimony the Gospel is based and also himself the author of the Gospel. (p.384) read more »


Bauckham’s eyewitnesses vs Petersen’s narrator

by Neil Godfrey

Is there any evidence in Mark’s narratives that the author is reporting the point of view of anyone other than his own? Is there any indication that he is relaying a third party’s “eyewitness” testimony?

Do we ever catch the author stepping outside his own perspective for a moment and finding himself reliant on the testimony of an “eyewitness” in the telling of a story? read more »


Bauckham versus Elisha on the 5000

by Neil Godfrey

I have made all too passing references to a feature that deserves the most attention of all in any serious thought about Richard Bauckham’s eyewitness hypothesis — the alternative hypothesis, the literary-borrowing hypothesis. read more »


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

by Neil Godfrey

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

by Neil Godfrey

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

by Neil Godfrey

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

by Neil Godfrey

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

by Neil Godfrey

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

by Neil Godfrey

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

by Neil Godfrey

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 »