Starting the series on Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
I’m glad to announce that I will be starting my series on Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Eerdmans) next week. I will start by posting the promised ‘interview’ with Richard about the book, which he was kind enough to make the time for.
For your reading pleasure I will post his response to the following questions, probably Monday:
- In a nutshell, what is the main argument of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses?
- What first provoked your thinking to study the role of eyewitness testimony in early Christianity? When did you first suspect there was need for a fresh study?
- How does the category of eyewitness testimony help to bridge the gap between the so-called historical Jesus and the Christ of faith?
- You argue that the Gospel of John was written by John the Elder, an eyewitness who had been with Jesus for his entire ministry. How should one then account for the differences between the Fourth Gospel and the Synoptics?
- The eyewitness inclusio you argue is evident in Mark and consciously appropriated and changed by John and Luke, is not present in the Gospel of Matthew. What is the significance of this for our understanding of Matthew’s Gospel?
For example, Wright speaks of Bauckham’s ‘unparalleled knowledge of the world of the first Christians to argue not only that the Gospels do indeed contain eyewitness testimony but that their first readers would certainly have recognized them as such. This book is a remarkable piece of detective work, resulting in a fresh and vivid approach to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of well-known problems and passages.’
Stanton claims the book ‘shakes the foundations of a century of scholarly study of the Gospels’ and rightly points out that ‘There are surprises on every page’.
Meanwhile, Hengel also lavishes heavy praise in writing: ‘I have not read such a stimulating monograph about Jesus research in a long time’, calling it ‘a pioneer work’ which ‘ought to be read by all theologians and historians working in the field of early Christianity’.
By the way, when the likes of Hengel writes of a work that it displays ‘broad learning’, ‘high scholarly standards and astute arguments’, you realise that this is a work to be taken very seriously.
As I wrote to Richard in personal correspondance: ‘Personally speaking, reading your book has been a highly stimulating and educational experience, and I’m very excited to see how it will be received. To be honest, I’ve not read a book before with such a power blend of broad learning, careful and economic exegesis, and theological refinement’.