Sunday, September 20, 2009

Richard Bauckham - 'Jesus and the Eyewitnesses'

On pages 132 to 137 of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckham shows some of the detailed provenance that can be given for ancient works of literature.

Richard Bauckham tells us about Lucian, when he was born, that he wrote many things, who commissoned one of his works, why it was written.

Bauckham applies the well known Christian principle of trusting his sources, and giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Oh sorry, my mistake, Bauckham writes '... we can hardly put much trust in a biographer determined to damn his subject.'

Bauckham tells us how Lucian knew Publius Mummius Sisenna Rutilianus, a source for much of it.

Of course, Bauckham has doubts , and does not always give his source the benefit of the doubt '... depiction of Rutilianus hardly portrays him as likely to be a very trustworthy witness.'

How different from the Gospels, where the mere suggestion that something came from an eyewitness automatically means that every detail is historically reliable.

Bauckham can see that '(Lucian) is a skeptical historian not taken in by the stories of his credulous informant....'

How different from the Gospels, where if an 'eyewitness' source says the fetus John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb when the fetus Jesus entered the room, then 'Luke' reports it as sober fact.

It is amazing that this work by Lucian has far greater provenance than the Gospels, which are anonymous works which never name sources, written by authors of whom we have no other works to see how reliable they are.

Compare that with the detailed provenance that Bauckham can give for one of Lucian's works.

And compare Bauckham's credulous acceptance of the Gospels, with his legitimate scholarship when it comes to non-Christian works.

No wonder mainstream Biblical scholarship is a mess.

6 Comments:

Blogger WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Yeah, I listened to Bauckham on the Unbelievable podcast against James Crossley. Amazingly Bauckham doesn't believe in the modern miracle at Fatima, despite hundreds of witnesses, and says he can't explain it. He doesn't even bother to try:

http://www.premierradio.org.uk/listen/ondemand.aspx?mediaid={97ADA01D-956B-419D-B2CD-1D382BCE8723}

see 21:45

5:59 AM  
Blogger Qohelet said...

It gets frustrating when I read works by "critical scholars" of the bible. It's special pleading through and through.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

I've heard some of the Unbelievable podcast and I see that Bauckham puts heavy emphasis on the fact that in the gospels for some stories you get people being named and others are not and this is what you would expect if it was reliable history. Sometimes you know the name and sometimes you don't. But if you are making it up you'd either insert names for everyone or you'd have no names for anyone. It would be interesting to see how this method applies to other histories or other tales regarded as fictional.

Personally I tend to think certain stories are circulating where names are applied and as Luke fashions his own narrative he's interweaving names in some cases for that reason. What do you think Steven?

9:08 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

If Bauckham has an hypothesis, that certain names were included because those people were well known to the intended readers, then he ought to produce data to test that hypothesis.

He should find out who the intended readers were, and what people they did or did not know.

That would be scholarship - forming hypotheses, working out a test of the hypothesis, and gathering data to test out the hypothesis.

10:41 AM  
Blogger pcraig said...

A quick search on Google books suggests that Bauckham includes a statistical analysis of the names in the New Testament.

Is that the kind of thing you mean, Steven?

5:48 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

That is a good thing to do. Producing data to support an hypothesis.

And it reveals that Jesus , Joseph ,Mary, John were common names, which was already known.

It backs up Bauckham's claim that the Gospel writers knew which were common names among Jews.

5:53 AM  

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