Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

Some great news! But first, an outrageous claim:

Richard Bauckham’s forthcoming book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, could well end up the most important publication on the historical Jesus to be written in the last fifty years.

It is for that reasons that I am especially thrilled that Eerdmans will kindly send me a review copy, and Richard himself has agreed to a small interview with me about this volume (I believe his largest ever at over 500 pages), to be published on Chrisendom in due course.

Though I will only be asking Richard a few questions, if any of you my readers have a burning suggestion as to what to put to him, then let me know – though keep it related to the subject of the book.

The description of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses on the Eerdmans site runs as follows:
‘This fresh book argues that the four Gospels are closely based on eyewitness testimony of those who knew Jesus. Noted New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham challenges the prevailing assumption that the accounts of Jesus circulated as “anonymous community traditions”, instead asserting that they were transmitted in the name of the original eyewitness.

To drive home this controversial point, Bauckham draws on internal literary evidence, study of personal names in the first century, and recent developments in the understanding of oral traditions. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses also taps into the rich resources of modern study of memory and cognitive psychology, refuting the conclusions of the form critics and call New Testament scholarship to make a clean break with this long-dominant tradition. Finally, Bauckham challenges readers to end the classic division between the “historical Jesus” and the “Christ of faith”, proposing the “Jesus of testimony” that is actually presented by Gospels.

Sure to ignite heated debate on the precise character of the testimony about Jesus, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses will be valued by scholars, students, and all who seek to understand the origins of the Gospels.’
I am personally very excited about this book, but I suspect that had anyone other than Richard written this bold thesis, it probably would not have even been given a hearing.



At 5/30/2006 4:51 PM, Anonymous Derek Brown said...

Thanks for the heads up Chris! I am thrilled for this forthcoming work. You are too right when you say that only Bauckham could write this. Praise the Lord for his scholastic bravado. I will try to mull some q's over and send one your way.

At 5/30/2006 5:37 PM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

You lucky so and so! I've had this pre-ordered on amazon for a while. I'm looking forward to hearing what he says about Bailey's line of interpretation and if he interacts with Weedon's critique of it. When are you getting your hands on it? To repeat: You lucky so and so!

At 5/30/2006 6:45 PM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

R. Bauckham is "the right stuff".

At 5/30/2006 8:04 PM, Anonymous Jason Clark said...

Thanks Chris, looks superb. Jason.

At 5/30/2006 10:27 PM, Anonymous J. B. Hood said...

Ask him how he deals with the traditional delineation between "earlier" (and thus purportedly more reliable) sources and later (p. less r.) material, such as Mk, Q; vs. Lk, Mt, Jn.

Also, ask him how he regards the tendency to see narrow community as the life setting (note how i avoided the German...it can be done, Chris) of Matthew and his redaction in particular. I haven't seen him write on this previously, but I bet he has thougth about it a bit.

Finally, what about the absence of hist. Jesus material--"transmitted in the name of the original eyewitness"--in Paul? Granted his argument on high christology in Paul, etc., what of the apparent lack of evidence on this issue?

Finally, I wish to know his diet, sleep patterns, entertainment choices. AFter all, his genius can't just be genetic and God-given...surely there's some behavioral secrets from which I can benefit...right?

At 5/30/2006 11:09 PM, Anonymous Michael F. Bird said...

Ask the Bauckhamster two things:
(1) How does he understand Lk. 1.1-4 in relation to Luke's claim about having access to eyewitnesses? Is Luke's remarks merely literary convention or part of a "witness" theology? On top of that, who was Theophilus: person or metaphor.
(2) How does his view of the Gospels as "Jesus testimony" differ from Dahl/Dunn who regard the Gospels as "Jesus remembered"?

At 5/31/2006 4:11 AM, Anonymous Derek Brown said...

Okay, here are my questions:

1) How does this idea of a Jesus of testimony fit within the historicity and testimony of Luke-Acts? (i.e., does the faithfulness of the witness continue in the same manner?)

2) How long does this testimony get carried on as Bauckham sees it? E.g, in the second century are we dealing with a breach in this testimony?

At 5/31/2006 3:25 PM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

I have no questions - i just think that contraversy is a funny thing - since it is completely dependent upon one's community of reference. In the pentecostal community in which i find myself, the only thing contraversial about this text would be the fact that it takes a volume of this magnitude to prove the seemingly obvious. It is also amusing to me that we are now at the point where a scholar is labelled as "bold" for taking a traditional view. Is it not also true that other scholars (Wright / Witherington etc) have called for a rethink of artificial distinctions between the so-called historical Jesus and the Christ of faith? Anyway, i also look forward to reading the book.

At 5/31/2006 4:22 PM, Anonymous Rory Shiner said...

Thanks for the tip. I really appreciated Bauckham's writing at College and look forward to buying and reading this one.

At 5/31/2006 4:24 PM, Anonymous Ellen Thunite said...

According to the 4 synoptic gospels, according to the eyewitness, was Jesus' name on the sign on his cross above his head?

At 5/31/2006 6:00 PM, Anonymous C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Shane Clifton wrote:

"... the only thing contraversial about this text would be the fact that it takes a volume of this magnitude to prove the seemingly obvious. It is also amusing to me that we are now at the point where a scholar is labelled as "bold" for taking a traditional view ..."

Yes indeed. When Bauckham's The Gospel for all Christians came out I took it over and let my cousin, who was the clerk of session at his PCUSA church, take a look at it. He was incredulous. He couldn't understand why a book like this needed to be written. I explained to him that the world of biblical studies was a alternative universe of discourse and that R. Bauckham was being very radical within that context.

BTW, some of the older types might recall that one of Australia's most prolific 20th century NT scholars, L.Morris wrote in the 1960s presenting evidence that the author of John's Gospel was an eyewitness. See Studies in the fourth Gospel, Leon Morris, Eerdmans 1969.

At 5/31/2006 7:03 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. And you learn something new every day (from Clay): Leon Morris was an Aussie! These Australian's. It must be in the water.

I won't put all of these questions to him, but a couple I will - so many thanks.

At 6/01/2006 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if you're taking any more questions, but if you are, could you ask him what he does w/literacy issues, i.e. whether Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would have had enough education to write such complex documents? This is something Ehrman harps on to argue against eyewitness authors. Can't wait to see the interview and the book.

At 6/01/2006 2:26 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Anon, not too late at all. Nice queation.

At 10/17/2006 5:12 AM, Anonymous byron smith said...

I know it's not on topic, but could you ask him would he mind not retiring so early... :-(

At 10/18/2006 4:09 PM, Anonymous El Bryan Libre said...

If it's not too late to submit a question I have one that recently came to mind.
Being that one of the things I hear about Bauckham often, even from other scholars, is his amazing breadth of knowledge, especially in NT studies in but in so many areas that intersect with it. Bauckham seems to be put forward as an expert on many things or a leading scholar. With that in mind I was wondering if he wouldn't mind elaborating on his studying methods. How he reads (and how many books he reads and how fast, does he stay away from certain books), his note taking methods, how he balances all these different subjects and things he reads, does he have a filing system, does he remember all of this stuff and what helps him remember? Is he a fan of any particular Biblical scholars (OT, NT and Theology)
Also if he's married how does he balance his scholarship and research with his marriage and social life?
Basically I'm just wondering about his studying and research habits if he has some good habits or pointers for those who hope to be NT scholars someday.
Thanks Chris.


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