Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses - Part 10
OK, I think I’ll speed up this series and attempt to finish it sooner rather than later.
Click here for the series outline.
Differences between the lists of the Twelve
However, to maintain this argument (cf. the previous post here), Bauckham must deal with the obvious objection that the differences in the lists suggest that the members of the Twelve were no longer accurately remembered.
Bauckham first stresses that the differences between the lists are not great. They exhibit the same basic structure of three groups of four, with the same person mentioned first always, and Judas likewise always last (I would add that such accuracy and variation in remembering a list like this is typical of the findings in memory studies – I can’t remember if Bauckham touches on this point later in chapter 13 and ‘Eyewitness Memory’) Bauckham, however, goes on to suggests conceivable redactional reasons as to why Mark, Matthew and Acts changed the order of some of the names.
However, the Mark/Matt Thaddaeus becomes the Judas of James in Luke/Acts, so there appears to be at least one instance of real discrepancy between the lists. This has led to some bloated claims concerning the inaccuracy of the lists entirely [Bauckham notes Fitzmyer (J. A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel according to Luke I-IX (AB 28; New York: Doubleday, 1981) 620)]. His solution to this apparent problem, building on his argument in the previous chapter (that ‘Palestinian Jews sometimes - perhaps often - bore both a Semitic and a Greek name’), is elegant. In a nutshell, ‘To distinguish him [Judas of James in Luke/Acts] from Judas Iscariot, this Judas could have been called by his patronymic, Judas son of James (Yehudah bar Ya‘aqov), or, alternatively, he could have been known by his Greek name, Thaddaeus (Taddai)’.
Thus, a strong argument has been mounted such that the lists of the Twelve can be recognised as carefully preserved. And given many of the names of the Twelve are amongst the most common Jewish names from this period, it is no surprise that the many strategies that were used to distinguish, say, one Simon from another, are also preserved in the lists to distinguish one member from another. Indeed, within the lists of the Twelve, Bauckham observes the use of many of these strategies. This last fact leads to the astonishing conclusion that the lists ‘must have originated within the circle of the Twelve themselves’ as such epithets were naturally used to ‘distinguish members of the Twelve among themselves’. Why, then, were the Twelve remembered not only with great care but also ‘to preserve precisely the way they were known in their own milieu during the ministry of Jesus and in the early Jerusalem church’? For Bauckham, the answer is straightforward:
It is difficult to account for this phenomenon except by the hypothesis that the Twelve were the official eyewitnesses and guarantors of the core of the Gospel traditions.A Note on Matthew and Levi
In the last section of this chapter Bauckham shows that is no mere apologist and that he uses his own criteria even-handedly. Using the onomastic studies of the previous chapter Bauckham argues that the Thaddaeus of Mark and Matt is the same person as the ‘Judas of James’ in Luke and Acts. However, in light of the same arguments the identification of the Matthew of Matt 9:9 with the Levi son of Alphaeus of Mark 2:14 must be judged as implausible, as one would then ‘be confronted with the virtually unparalleled phenomenon of a Palestinian Jew bearing two common Semitic personal names’. Of course, Bauckham’s argument in this section does more than show that he is no apologist as he also offers an explanation as to why Matt 9:9 changes the name, namely because the Gospel author ‘has appropriated Mark’s story of the call of Levi, making it a story of Matthew’s call instead’. This implies that the author ‘intended to associate the Gospel with the apostle Matthew, but he was not himself the apostle Matthew’.
(Bauckham does not develop this last point which is rather typical of the whole study in terms of Matthew’s Gospel: The implications of Bauckham’s thesis for Matthew’s Gospel, and vice versa, is an area waiting to be developed)