Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bauckham responds III

My thanks to Richard Bauckham who has once again taken the time to dialogue with some of the comments, this time those made to part 8 of my summary series on his work, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (I’m getting rather adept at typing the word ‘eyewitnesses’ quickly these days!). He writes:
“I’m grateful to Richard Fellows for his interesting suggestions, and for directing me to his on-line discussions, which I didn’t know. I haven’t thought much about changes of name, and the topic clearly deserves more attention. I wonder if Richard knows my article on ‘Paul and other Jews with Latin names in the NT’ which has some other ideas about names in it.

To James: My point about the names is not just that they are authentically Palestinian ones, which certainly anyone who had lived in Palestine could have known. It is that, when all the data in the 4 Gospels and Acts is put together, the relative frequency of the various names corresponds closely to what we can calculate from other sources (Josephus, inscriptions, Judean desert scrolls etc). No one could have achieved this by design

Happy Christmas”
I would simply add that the article Bauckham mentions, ‘Paul and other Jews with Latin names in the New Testament’, was published in Paul, Luke and the Graeco-Roman world (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), on pages 202-220 to be precise.

I want to also point to C.K. Barrett’s review of this interesting volume in the Journal of Theological Studies, 2005 56(1) pp. 168-170. He had this to say of Bauckham’s contribution in the above mentioned article: ‘Richard Bauckham makes an exhaustive study of Paul and other Jews with Latin names. This contains much interesting information, spiced with a measure of speculation’ (p. 169).

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At 12/20/2006 10:25 PM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

The only thing I know about the frequency of Palestinian names was that Simon was the most popular, Joseph second, and that the name Jesus (or Joshua) was sixth.

Is Jesus the sixth most popular Palestinian Jewish name in Gospel/Acts?

I have also seen conflicting reports of what the name 'Barnabas' means.

What does it mean?

At 12/21/2006 12:21 AM, Anonymous Richard Fellows said...

I have indeed read Bauckham's "Paul and other Jews with Latin Names", and I can recommend it to other readers. Also of interest is Bauckham's "Gospel Women", which also discusses some names. Another writer who has looked at naming conventions is G.H.R.Horsely, and I've noticed that Bauckham does not always agree with his assessment of the frequency of double name phenomena. On page 72 of "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" Bauckham writes, "probably considerably more Jews bore both a Semitic and a Greek name than we are able to tell from our sources". This is an important point. Someone who used a Hebrew name when in Palestine and a Greek name when elsewhere would rarely use both names at the same time, so our sources would be unlikely to record his/her double name. In such cases we rely on historical detective work to assess whether two names belonged to the same person (e.g. Silas-Silvanus or Bauckham's Joanna-Junia). Similarly, cases where a second name is given for religious reasons are also likely to be under-represented in our sources, I think. Our sources tend to reveal such cases only when the person is well documented enough that the naming is mentioned (e.g. Barkokhba), or when the second name also functioned to differentiate the person from others who had the same first name (e.g. the Boanerges brothers).

Anyway, more research into these matters is needed and I hope that Bauckham continues to work in the field as he is perhaps uniquely qualified to do so.

Richard F.

At 12/21/2006 12:51 AM, Anonymous Richard Fellows said...


In the NT we have one certain case of someone called Jesus (Jesus of Nazareth), and three doubtful cases. "Bar-Jesus" (Acts 13:6) may just mean "desciple of Jesus". "Jesus called Justus" (Col 4:11) may be fictional, and Jesus Barabbas is read in only some of the manuscripts. It is likely that the name was avoided by the early church to avoid confusion with Jesus of Nazareth. The second name of "Jesus called Justus" is probably given precisely to avoid such confusion, whether he is fictional or not. It is not impossible that one of the twelve was called Jesus and dropped the name to prevent confusion with his master. It is also possible, as B. points out, that Jason (Acts 17) was also called Jesus.

The name Barnabas originally meant "son of Nebo" (a Babylonian God). However, this cannot have been the meaning that Barnabas and the apostles ascribed to the name. It is likely that they considered it to mean 'son of prophecy' or something similar. Luke's interpretation, 'son of PARAKLHSIS'(probably "exhortation") seems quite close (Acts 4:36). It was quite common for the folk etymology of a name to be different from its scientific etymology, so we have no reason to doubt Luke's account.

Richard F.

At 12/22/2006 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


for the love of all sanity DO NOT give Carr ANY information... if there is anyone that will take a small kernel of truth and warp it and try to use it as a weapon to beat people down with it is him: just leave the crazy man alone.

At 12/22/2006 4:20 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

To be honest, Anon, I think that comment is a little below the belt. The tone of Steven's questions seemed to me to be rather respectful (this time).

At 12/22/2006 7:55 PM, Anonymous John Smith said...

Oh dear, I posted as Anonymous on the Eerdmans thread, but I'm not the Anonymous on this one!

I think I shall now post under the name "John Smith"!


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