I discussed the reference in Paul’s epistles to the Twelve in my more detailed discussion on the Bauckham review, but am also adding what Paul informs us about the Twelve and the apostles here in slightly more depth. If I find on further reading Bauckham that addresses anything I have placed here then I may revise it. Till then . . . . Continue reading “The Twelve: Paul vs Richard Bauckham”
Updated about 2 hours after first posted:
An alternative proposal for the origin of the lists of the Twelve names — yup, it’s another hypothesis, but a hypothesis that does not require hypothesizing a whole lot of imaginary sources and that does not leave a whole lot of unanswered questions about the rest of our evidence that the B. hypothesis leaves . . . . Continue reading “The Twelve: Acts & Gospels vs Richard Bauckham”
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”
Related current article: The Myth of an al Qaeda Takeover of Iraq
Continuation of notes from Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror by Jason Burke.
2nd element: “a network of networks” — a wider circle consisting of other militant groups linking with al-Qaeda
What these links are not:
- They are not a vast international network of groups answerable to bin Laden or the al-Qaeda inner hardcore.
There are in fact scores of militant groups around the world, each separate with local goals and acting independently. They may see bin Laden as an inspirational figure or a symbol of their collective struggle, but reject his or his inner circle’s leadership and goals. (Compare the many groups in the West who demonstrate with pictures of Che Guevera.)
What these links are:
- Some members of some militant groups who trained in al-Qaeda camps since 1996;
- Some leaders of some militant groups who have had contact with senior figures in the al-Qaeda hardcore;
- Or received funds;
- Or training;
- Or other help from bin Laden himself or from his associates
- Such links are not unique with al-Qaeda. All Islamic militant groups have similar links with others.
- These links are always tenuous and compete with other sources of training, expertise and funding.
- The groups and individuals involved generally have multiple associations and lines of support.
- Their interests are often deeply parochial and they will not subordinate their leadership to any outside leader or organisation, including al-Qaeda. — e.g. Lebanese Asbat ul Ansar & Islamic movement of Uzbekistan
- Many have long been openly hostile to the tactics and goals of al-Qaeda. As many are in rivalry with al-Qaeda as are allied with al-Qaeda.
- At various times some groups – or some individuals within different groups – will cooperate with bin Laden if they feel it suits their purpose.
Within individual movements different factions can have different relations with ‘al-Qaeda’
One example: The Ansar ul Islam is one movement but with 3 differ relations to ‘al-Qaeda’:
- Ansar ul Islam group in Kurdish Northern Iraq in northern Iraq emerged autumn 2001 with 3 different factions. 2 of these factions went to Afghanistan to meet senior al-Qaeda leaders spring 2001;
- the 3rd faction rejected dealing with bin Laden or those around him;
- By the end of 2001: Arab fighters fleeing US invasion of Afghanistan – some of these had been close to bin Laden.
In addition to the above there is also a 4th relationship. Ansar ul Islam consisted of others not interested in any broader agenda beyond Kurdistan. (1 failed suicide bomber told the author, Jason Burke, that he did not want to go to Afghanistan simply because he was not interested in travel and was focused only in affairs of his own country.) – these people did not care for bin Laden or his vision of an international struggle.
Others have rebuffed bin Laden’s advances:
- Algerian GIA in early 1990’s rejected bin Laden because his agenda was very different from theirs.
- GSPC (a GIA splinter group) refused to meet bin Laden emissaries summer 2002
- The leader of the Indonesian Lashkar Jihad group refused to ally with bin Laden because that would significantly impinge on autonomy
- At least one Palestinian Islamic group has rebuffed his advances concerned about such a link to its image at home and overseas.
Like the anti-globalisation movement – some groups aims and methods coincide, often they do not.
3rd element: to be continued………..
continuing my notes from Jason Burke’s “Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror” . . . .
Al-Qaeda’s “mature years”: 1996-2001
Bin Laden provided “a central focus for many . . . disparate elements. This was not a formation of a huge and disciplined group, but a temporary focus of many different strands within modern Islamic militancy on Afghanistan and what, in terms of resources and facilities, bin Laden and his three dozen close associates were able to provide there.” (p.12)
The resources he offered: training, expertise, money, munitions, safe haven. He was providing a safe haven and “department store” array of support for different groups who had been looking for some such “service” since the end of the Afghan war.
The 3 elements of al-Qaeda
The al-Qaeda hardcore (approx 12+100) consisted of:
- The dozen or so associates who had stayed with him since the 1980’s.
- Pre-eminent militants who had difficulties operating in their own countries came to join bin Laden for the safe haven and the resources he could offer: recruits, money, ideas, knowledge.
- Many of these were Afgan war veterans. Many had fought in Bosnia and Chechnya.
- They totalled about 100.
- Many had at some stage taken an oath of allegiance to bin Laden.
- They acted as trainers and administrators in Afghanistan.
- Occasionally they were sent overseas to seek recruits; more rarely, to carry out a terrorist operation.
- But they were not a monolithic group: among them are significant divergences of opinioin over methods, tactics, political and religious beliefs.
2nd element: a wider circle consisting of:
(to be contd.)