The Jesus and the Eyewitnesses thesis advances
In the Svenska Exegetiska Sällskapet 74 (Uppsala 2009), Richard Bauckham has published a new article, 'The Eyewitnesses in the Gospel of Mark', developing aspects of his groundbreaking Jesus and the Eyewitnesses thesis. One major part of that work, and one of its main innovative proposals, is that the Gospels are not only based on eyewitness testimony, but that the Gospels have ways of indicating their main eyewitnesses (see my two earlier posts on this matter here and here). His new article explores this proposal once again with special focus on Mark's Gospel. He responds particularly powerfully to Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's critique in RB 114 (2007).
'Given the stress that B. has laid on the preference of ancient historians for eyewitness testimony, one might have expected to find that it was they who directed his attention to the device of the eyewitness inclusio. In fact, he does not bring them into the argument at all…. For extra-biblical parallels B. has to go to Lucian's Alexander (C2 AD) and Porphyry's Life of Plotinus (C4 AD)' (p.626)
Murphy-O'Connor asserts that these parallels are not only irrelevant, because of their dates, but they also 'cannot be evidence for a literary convention in popular lives of such figures' (Bauckham's summary, 23). Bauckham's response seeks to offer the kind of evidence Murphy-O'Connor seeks, and to this end he examines Polybius and Plutarch. In both cases we read extremely compelling evidence that 'some of the personal names in the Gospel of Mark indicate the eyewitness sources of his narratives, especially in the cases of Peter, Simon of Cyrene and the three named women disciples' (37). In particular, material from Polybius shows that Bauckham's Markan eyewitness inclusio is highly plausible, and Plutarch's Life of Caesar presents evidence to affirmatively answer the question whether there are 'parallels in Greco-Roman history and biography to such a practice of indicating eyewitnesses without explicitly saying this about them' (33).
To be honest, I think Bauckham has hit a home run with this new evidence. His argument is very compelling.
Labels: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses