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Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony [Hardcover]

By Richard Bauckham (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   538
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 6.6" Height: 1.6"
Weight:   208 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2006
ISBN  0802831621  
EAN  9780802831620  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 32.00 $ 27.20 50264
Paperback $ 30.00 $ 25.50 92499 In Stock
Item Description...
This new book argues that the four Gospels are closely based on eyewitness testimony of those who knew Jesus. Noted New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham challenges the prevailing assumption that the accounts of Jesus circulated as "anonymous community traditions," asserting instead that they were transmitted in the name of the original eyewitnesses. To drive home this controversial point, Bauckham draws on internal literary evidence, study of personal names in the first century, and recent developments in the understanding of oral traditions.

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses also taps into the rich resources of modern study of memory and cognitive psychology, refuting the conclusions of the form critics and calling New Testament scholarship to make a clean break with this long-dominant tradition. Finally, Bauckham challenges readers to end the classic division between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of faith," proposing instead the "Jesus of testimony." Sure to ignite heated debate on the precise character of the testimony about Jesus, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses will be valued by scholars, students, and all who seek to understand the origins of the Gospels.

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More About Richard Bauckham

Richard Bauckham Richard Bauckhamis professor emeritus of New Testament studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, senior scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and a fellow of both the British Acad-emy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His many other books includeJesus and the God of Israel, Gospel Women, andJesus: A Very Short Introduction."

Richard Bauckham has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Academic Paperback
  2. Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting
  3. Coleccion Teologica Contemporanea: Estudios Teologicos
  4. Library of New Testament Studies
  5. New Testament Readings
  6. New Testament Studies
  7. New Testament Theology
  8. Sarum Theological Lectures
  9. Supplements to Novum Testamentum
  10. T & T Clark Academic Paperbacks
  11. Very Short Introductions
  12. Word Biblical Commentary

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament   [2808  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > New Testament   [2831  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > New Testa   [1782  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General   [10297  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology   [2037  similar products]
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History   [4688  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Breath of Scholarly Fresh Air  Jan 12, 2007
How refreshing to read a treatment of the Gospels by a major scholar that does not have the stench of the Jesus Seminar or the odor of the Ehrman/Pagels crowd emitting from it! Bauckham actually believes that the Gospel accounts are based on eyewitnesses and are not the result of a long oral tradition finalizing in various forms, each tainted by the theological views of the ones who finally who recorded them. And he offers a very convincing argument for his position! The subtitle of this work could be: "Why we should have listened to Luke and Papias in the first place."
Building on the work of Samuel Byrskog in his "Story as History - History as Story," (he is cited over 30 times), Bauckham conducts a "tour de force" of Gospel history with an amazing amount of detail, always presented in a lively prose. Gospel heavyweights like Wright, Stanton, Dunn, and Hengel sing its praises on the covers, so what can I add? Only to say that readers need to recognize that the misdirected Jesus Quest of the last generation has been fueled by a self-appointed coterie of AMERICAN scholars who have made a lot of money on their "Jesus fantasies" while destroying the faith of many laymen who don't know that their scholarship is bogus. Furthermore, they have made Americans again the laughingstock of the European scholarly world by their agenda-driven writings. (Note the names above are all British/German!).
True, many laymen probably won't read this 536 page book, but hopefully those who want to be informed and to inform others will join Bauckham in his scholarly detective work.
I wish I could require this for reading in my Life of Christ class this Spring, but it is late for course adoption and I can only require so much. On the other hand, no informed pastor, serious layman, or seminary prof and student should neglect what I sincerely believe will become a classic. One complaint: No bibliography is included and although the author usually mentions the details of a book in the footnotes, sometimes he doesn't (Chapman, "John the Presbyter" for example, page 17). Also, some of my evangelical colleagues will not like his Markan priority, but sometimes you have to be thankful for what you can get and not short-sightedly toss out something that has great value otherwise.
These matters are minor in light of the major strengths of this work. If you are wondering what REAL historical research looks like, get this book.
Eyewitness Testimony & Cross-Examination  Jan 12, 2007
Bauckham here does the church and world a significant scholarly favor by taking on the form critical approach and assumptions to the gospel as being nothing other than an outcome of a community formation process of oral tradition, that has been edited, and redited and applied and reapplied. Thus, layer upon layer that needs this search for a supposed authentic Jesus.

Bauckham argues in a thorough and academic way that this is incorrect. Primarily it does not approach the Gospels for what they are: personal engaged eyewitness testimony of the most accepted and solid histoiography of its times. He unloads and unpacks this in over five-hundred pages of engagement with the sources, academia opinions, and critics. He is thorough, articulate and reacts to various schools and opinions.

He finds the break to this modern disengagement of many in academia with the historical Gospel approach through an Enlightenment arrogance to challenge ancient history as not truly being able to know what they were witnessing to. Rather than seeing themselves standing on the shoulders of the history past, they rather see themselves as standing on their own shoulders and judging/rewriting through their interprative tools all history before them.

Bauckham here not only refutes this with the Biblical/historiography evidence, but also with philosophy of epistemology, showing that trust in testimony is critical to interpersonal communication. The Enlightenment's trend to make the individual supreme here needs to move back to the past view of trust in testimony until it can be shown as an unreliable bedrock as faulty memory.

Besides the historography examination of this ancient Greco-Roman world, the author explores at length the second century connection through Eusebius' history with the likes of Papias, Polycrates, and Irenaeus.

Some doubts as to his concentration on discounting of John of Zebedee not being author of any Biblical book, but will wait to see the reaction and dialogue on this vital topic.

To be carefully read, pondered, discussed and rejoiced with thanks for again raising this vital area of discussion for the church and its faith in eyewitness testimony and history.

Can't recommend its reading enough.
Another Home Run for Bauckham  Jan 10, 2007
Anything by Bauckham is likely to get a high rating from me, simply by the sheer quality of his work. In this book, he presents several lines of evidence to support his contention that the Gospels constitute or rely upon eyewitness testimony. Before I get into that, though, I'll give you the table of contents:

1) From the Historical Jesus to the Jesus of Testimony
2) Papias on the Eyewitnesses
3) Names in the Gospel Traditions
4) Palestinian Jewish Names
5) The Twelve
6) Eyewitnesses "from the Beginning"
7) The Petrine Perspective in the Gospel of Mark
8) Anonymous Persons in Mark's Passion Narrative
9) Papias on Mark and Matthew
10) Models of Oral Tradition
11) Transmitting the Jesus Traditions
12) Anonymous Tradition or Eyewitness Testimony?
13) Eyewitness Memory
14) The Gospel of John as Eyewitness Testimony
15) The Witness of the Beloved Disciple
16) Papias on John
17) Polycrates and Irenaeus on John
18) The Jesus of Testimony

Bauckham engages in an extensive treatment of Papias. For those of you who don't know, Papias was an early Christian writer who may very well have been cotemporaneous with the disciples of Jesus, as he professes to have been. He makes a number of statements about the Gospels, as do other early Christians. Papias, Bauckham contends, has been somewhat misunderstood and dismissed in recent scholarship. Not only does Bauckham defend Papias by showing his usage of historiographic terms and the notions of historiography at the time, he also provides a better understanding of what Papias is saying. In summary, Papias believes that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written by Matthew in Hebrew or Aramaic, but was translated into Greek by a number of workers who somewhat botched the project in terms of order. Mark, perhaps written sometime in between those events, was written by a translator of Peter's eyewitness testimony, setting things down in a topical order because he himself was not at liberty to attempt a truly chronological ordering of events. This explains why neither of the two has the chronological order (the preferable one, in Papias' eyes) in comparison to the Gospel of John, which Papias esteems highly. (Papias' knowledge of the Gospel of John is evidenced in the decidedly Johannine list of disciples which he provides.) Papias and other early Christians contended that the figure "John the Elder" was distinct from "John the son of Zebedee", the former being the author of the Gospel and the Johannine epistles, the "disciple whom Jesus loved", and the disciple who survived longer than the rest, eventually dying in Ephesus. One of Bauckham's stronger arguments for rebuffing the identification of the two is that Papias, remembering a time decades before he wrote, noted that one John (undoubtedly one of the Twelve, this being the son of Zebedee) was dead, whereas John the Elder (as well as a disciple named Aristion) was alive and continuing to preach). Bauckham has other arguments for the case, but it will suffice to simply say that it's best to read the book yourself, and that I think he's essentially convinced me of this particular point.

However, I'm utterly losing the order of the book here. Returning to his case, Bauckham also contends that the Gospels themselves intended to identify themselves as based on eyewitness testimony. The naming of certain characters in the Gospels, for example, is intended on occasion to indicate that they were the eyewitness sources from whom the authors derived information. (Mark, according to Bauckham, occasionally omits this in instances in which the eyewitnesses might be in particular danger if identified as such--he draws this point from Thiessen.) The naming of the Twelve in the Synoptics, even though very few of them appear to play a specific role in the Gospel narratives, functions to identify them as a major source. One interesting case that Bauckham additionally makes is that, when one examines the balance of names among Gospel characters, the balance is decidedly consistent with name frequency in Palestine, but inconsistent with the Diaspora. The conclusion to be drawn from that is an indication of authenticity, in contrast to the claims of some that the Gospel stories were fabricated by anonymous authors in Christian communities beyond Palestine.

Another feature of the Gospels is the inclusio, by which the authors denoted very primary sources of information for a period. The use of this method framed the narrative between mentions of the figure in question. Bauckham discusses a few clear examples of this in other Greco-Roman bioi, but his primary focus, of course, is the Gospels. For example, Mark has a very prominent inclusio involving Peter, as could be expected. (Bauckham also notes that the point-of-view used in Mark's Gospel is such that it gives very telltale signs of being from a perspective amongst the Twelve, particularly with the occasional "they" passage without a clarified referent, which makes sense particularly if one imagines that Mark was simply placing Peter's "we"-testimony into the third person.) Luke also has a Petrine inclusio, but there is also a smaller inclusio involving Jesus' female disciples, particularly at the tomb. John, on the other hand, has the Petrine inclusio surrounded (just slightly) by an inclusio of the author himself (the "disciple whom Jesus loved" in the later parts of the Gospel, in which that would make sense), thereby attempting to establish the author's superiority as a witness, as he does other times in the Gospel. Peter, rather than being portrayed in the witness aspect of discipleship, is instead confirmed in his role as the chief shepherd.

John also evidently used the occasional "we", not so much as a plural referent but as a method of emphasizing his authoritative testimony on the matter. The use, as Bauckham illustrates with a quotation from Dionysius of Halicarnassus, is not without attestation in the ancient literature.

It seems rather clear that the Gospels were intended by the authors to be eyewitness testimony. The ascription to the authors in question, furthermore, is unanimous in church history, and surely the eyewitnesses of Jesus' life and ministry would have served as guarantors of the oral history set forth (contrary to the suppositions of form criticism, which Bauckham exposes as thoroughly obsolete). Furthermore, those selected are hardly prominent figures, as we have on some of the apocryphal pseudo-Gospels. Matthew, a minor member of the Twelve; Mark, a disciple of Peter but not himself an eyewitness; Luke, a companion of Paul who definitely does not appear in the Gospels; and John the Elder, not one of the Twelve at all, though still an eyewitness according to the accounts.

Richard Bauckham highlights the absurdity of the notion that authorial ascriptions were far down the road after the composition of the Gospels by noting the manner in which authors' identities were affixed to scrolls in the ancient world.

Bauckham also gives a treatment of the reliability of eyewitness memory, drawing on numerous memory studies. As it turns out, the episodes in the Gospels are precisely the sort of thing one would expect eyewitnesses to remember. Factor in the fact that disciples in the ancient world were expected to memorize masters' teachings, and that many of Jesus' statements are presented in a form that was designed for memorization, and there's little reason to not trust that they got it right.

Finally, Bauckham makes the case that the very nature of testimony is that it demands to be trusted. That isn't to say that honest critical evaluation can't be applied--Bauckham is very clear that such is a rational approach--but testimony is such that the very authority of the statement is the grounds for trusting the statement. Indeed, as the book maintains, it is necessary to treat testimony as testimony. He even goes so far as to highlight the philosophy of Thomas Reid, who regarded testimony as one of the "social operations of the mind", on the same level as basic "solitary operations of the mind" such as sensory perception, inference, and memory. Bauckham also notes that John the Elder, being an eyewitness, would feel freer to expound on the significance of the events in addition to reliably reporting them--hence, the distinctive nature of John's Gospel, in addition to the fact that John was undoubtedly writing with an awareness of the Synoptics and aiming to make his own contribution.

All in all, the book makes a rather good case for reasons to trust the Gospels.

- The Gospels bear in themselves the claim to eyewitness authority, the highest standard of historiography possible
- It makes sense that eyewitness testimony would be operating as a fundamental component in the oral history in the early church, including that of the surviving eyewitnesses themselves, who would serve as authorities on the matter.
- Other early Christians affirm traditional authorship for the Gospels, with the authors identified as either eyewitnesses themselves or relying upon eyewitness testimony
- The ascriptions to the authors as we know them were undoubtedly very early and probably original
- The authors to whom the Gospels are ascribed are not the sort who would be likely choices for authors falsely ascribing work to them
The names in the Gospels bear signs of a Palestinian Jewish setting unlikely to be concocted by anonymous authors outside of Palestine, thus strengthening the claim to authenticity
- The sort of eyewitness testimony professed in the Gospels is the most trustworthy variety, as studies of memory show.
- Testimony, by its nature, asks to be accepted and should be accepted as what it is.
- We simply cannot function with a fundamental distrust of testimony.
By highlighting testimony in the Gospels, the distinction between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of faith" is properly replaced by the "Jesus of testimony".

This book gets my recommendation. My sole real complaint (other than my personal misgivings about Markan priority and Bauckham's discussion of Matthew) is the lack of a bibliography. Bauckham instead keeps his references solely in the footnotes.
Splendid book  Jan 2, 2007
As both a Christian and a history maven, Bauckham's book gave me the thrill of reading a good detective story. He makes small fragments of evidence tell us more than would seem possible, partly by setting them into the context of how historians wrote and thought at the time. Explaining, for instance, that Greek and Roman historians thought that the highest expression of their craft was to be what we would call oral historians, artfully arranging the testimony of those who had seen what happened....or even better, what they had seen with their own eyes. And how they would often heap scorn on historians who only used written records!

Other Jesus-scholar types I've encountered don't seem to be rigorous historians (NT Wright excepted) and create hazy realms where almost anything might be true, and anything can be just waved away because it doesn't quite "feel true" to the author. This was a refreshing change from that sort of writing.

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