Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bauckham - Crossley debate

Some apologise for not blogging, which I find a bit odd - like apologising to your vicar for drinking apple juice instead of orange juice. I.e. unnecessary. Of course, I do feel I should apologise for all of the usual biblioblog pigswill you have had to tolerate in the absence of my insightful posting.

Truth is, I freeking love summer holidays. Slopped on the sandy shores in Corfu like a beached whale, surrounded by books, drinks, beautiful wife, and grinning like an idiot. That week's holiday was my high point anyway. And I've been enjoying all manner of brilliant books the whole summer. Most recently I've started into Doug Campbell's brilliant, deliciously provocative and important tome The Deliverance of God (thanks to the kind folk at Eerdmans for the review copy). More on that anon.

Anyway, a while ago Justin Brierley, of the Premier Radio show Unbelievable, e-mailed me to ask for suggested dialogue partners for Richard Bauckham on the question of Jesus and the eyewitnesses. One of the two names I suggested happily ended up on the show, namely James Crossley. Now available are both parts of the debate between Richard and James. Here is part 1, and here is part 2. Enjoy!

18 Comments:

At 9/16/2009 10:02 PM, Anonymous steph said...

you swine!! Basking in the sun on a Corfu beach while we endured the third wettest day in recorded history... Never mind - M and I made it to Beach Boulevard on the Sunday and I suffered the wonderful freezing sea water, raced the wind down the sand with bare toes, and we bought a load of fruit from Asda to picnic on the beach...

I paused with my back to your Bauckham for about 3 and a half minutes when I realised I was about three feet taller than him. ;-) It was a good catch up but nothing special. I was sorry you weren't there though.

 
At 9/17/2009 12:42 AM, Anonymous James said...

But Chris, in the interests of a finely-balanced debate, how come you didn't suggest Steve Carr?

 
At 9/17/2009 12:03 PM, Anonymous Pstyle said...

Thanks for the links Chris. Am trying to listen whilst at work - probably not a good idea.. .

 
At 9/17/2009 6:03 PM, Anonymous dan said...

Was the other name you mentioned "Chris Tilling"?

 
At 9/18/2009 12:50 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Steph: Yea, I enjoy the gloating part all the more in light of your "freezing water"! I look forward to meeting you at SBL!

James, perhaps some might suggest that Steven would have been just slightly out-gunned in such an encounter! Would have been a lively discussion, at least!

Pstyle, what did you think of it?

Dan, as the discussion is generally between a believer and a non-believer, what are you trying to tell me? :-p Actually, I suggested Maurice Casey.

 
At 9/18/2009 3:05 AM, Anonymous steph said...

he'll love that - HAHAHAHA ;-)

 
At 9/18/2009 11:01 AM, Anonymous dan said...

Exactly -- I thought maybe you were coming out of the closet and all your prior interactions with Bauckham was bait in the trap.

 
At 9/18/2009 3:11 PM, Anonymous steph said...

he'd do it if asked - he likes him. That would be an interesting debate.

 
At 9/18/2009 6:43 PM, Anonymous Robin Parry said...

Good to have you back! My life was just empty for a few weeks.

 
At 9/19/2009 9:12 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

I hope, Robin, that I can again bring your life meaning again!

Steph, is this something we should think about persuing?

 
At 9/19/2009 9:22 PM, Anonymous steph said...

I think so because I know he couldn't say no and I'm extremely wicked...

 
At 9/19/2009 9:43 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Perhaps we could run an online debate - on a blog, on the biblical studies list or something like that? What do you think? Shall I get in touch with Richard?

 
At 9/19/2009 9:55 PM, Anonymous steph said...

very possibly - although I think it would really have to be next year after M's book has gone to press. I'll go have a yack now before immersing myself in the simulated sea at David Lloyd next door for purification...

 
At 9/19/2009 10:12 PM, Anonymous steph said...

yes - great idea if Richard thinks so too, anytime soon. Maurice would like to know in advance what exactly is involved before committing himself definitely!! I think it should be on the most widely read forum like your blog :-)

 
At 9/20/2009 10:00 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

I would certainly have been outgunned in a debate with Bauckham.

He can spot things like 'inclusio' as an indication of eyewitness testimony.

This is a technique which no ancient writer or reader ever mentioned,and which scholars never realised existed , until he discovered it.

It would be like pitting me against Michael Drosnin. I just don't have the amazing ability that these people have to spot these hidden Bible Codes.

Bauckham can even tell you that it is likely that Bartimaeus died between the writing of Mark's Gospel and the writing of Luke's Gospel.

I just can't compete with that sort of psyhcic ability, being limited as a I am to mundane evidence about the ancient world like documents, inscriptions, coins, statues, while Bauckham is not subject to such restrictions.

It would be like pitting me against Superman. I am earthbound while Bauckham can use his super-powers. It would be no contest.

 
At 9/20/2009 10:03 AM, Anonymous Terry Wright said...

Just in case anyone's interested and can get to south London the day, Spurgeon's College is having a study day on the Gospel eyewitnesses with Richard in January: http://aardvarkconundrum.blogspot.com/2009/09/jesus-and-eyewitnesses.html

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At 9/20/2009 10:14 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

Page 54 of 'Jesus and the Eyewitnesses' is where Bauckham reveals his psychic abilities, which grant him the ability to know Bartimaeus was still alive when Mark wrote, but died before Matthew and Luke wrote.

And so Bartimaeus fell into obscurity (it must be true, it is in a Bauckham book), and Matthew and Luke omitted his name , because Bartimaeus was now an obscure figure.

I would have thought the role of a 'historian' like Luke was to rescue people from obscurity, not just to reproduce stories about them, and then omit names from the story because nobody had heard of the person.

How quickly Christians forget.

Just a few years earlier, Bartimaeus had been a living miracle, and then everybody forgot even his name.

So Luke airbrushed his name out of history, just as Luke airbrushed out all hints that James the church leader had ever had any relationship with Jesus.

 
At 9/24/2009 3:34 AM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

It must be said however, that many will remain unconvinced by the alternative model of a “Formal Controlled Tradition” that Bauckham proposes in this book. It may be true that the literary features of mark show a closer connection with the testimony of Peter than is commonly assumed. But the evidence fails to sustain Bauckham’s hypothesis of a fixed body of Jesus tradition formulated by the Twelve in Jerusalem and mediated directly to the author of Mark through the apostolic preaching of Peter. Without accepting Bauckham’s dubious claim that Peter’s appearance at the beginning and end of Mark represents a literary device for identifying the work’s authoritative witness, it is very difficult to affirm the other alleged indication of the author’s reliance on Peter’s testimony, which are ambiguous at best. Equally questionable are the historical conclusions Backham draws from Paul’s Letters about the formal transmission of Jesus traditions. The level of institutionalization thus ascribed to the Jesus movement in the earliest stages of its development strains credibility. Likewise, Bauckham’s hypothesis about the Beloved Disciple as the eyewitness author of the Fourth Gospel will not convince many. Often resting on unproven assumptions, the argument frequently invokes highly conjectural explanations of textual evidence that are not easily affirmed. For examples, most will find fanciful the attempt to account for the infrequency and obscurity of references to the Beloved Disciples by appealing to the author’s need to establish his credibility as a perceptive disciple before disclosing his identity as the actual author of the Gospel. Even if we were to accept as probable many of the conclusions Bauckham draws from the Gospels, there still remains a larger question that weakens the argument of the book. If it is true that the Evangelists attached such importance to eyewitness testimony, then why are indications of this not more obvious and explicit? In response, Bauckham claims that ancient readers would have expected the Gospels to have eyewitness sources and so would have been alert to the subtle indications provided by the text. This explanation ascribes to the Evangelists and their readers a full measure of literary sophistication and an informed familiarity with the canons of Greco-Roman historiography. But this seems to far exceed what we can claim to know about the first eyewitnesses and those who listened to their testimony.

--Dean Bechard of the Pontifico Instituto Biblico, Rome--final paragraph of his review of Richard Bauckham’s, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Review published in Biblica, v.90, fasc.1, 2009, p. 126-129.

 

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