Introduction to Professor Richard Bauckham

Richard Bauckman (Wikipedia profile; Theopedia profile) is retired professor of New Testament studies at St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland.  As a New Testament scholar, his research interests include Jesus, the Gospels, and early Christianity.

Bauckham’s 2006 book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony carries this description from Amazon:

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.

Here also is a 2007 review of the book (Another Homerun for Bauckham) from the book’s Amazon web page.  Bauckham’s work is a thoroughly researched explanation of the ancient literature we have in the four gospels.

In this ten-minute video from YouTube, Bauckman outlines what his research has revealed about the historical nature of the gospels.

4 Replies to “Introduction to Professor Richard Bauckham”

  1. Thanks, he has an intriguing thesis. i went ahead and requested his book from my library. I had thought that prospect of eyewitness had been hastily dismissed, and I was impressed by the use of the “Beloved Disciple” in John. I thought it clearly indicated that the author believed he had an eyewitness as a source, and John is probably later than Mark.
    As to the stylistic presentation of the story, I would have to compare it to other eyewitness accounts and see if it other authors tailored eyewitness accounts to fit literary forms. One of the things that i have come to realize is the disciples are not merely the student of a teacher, but feel they do in fact have a mystical relationship with someone they think sits at the right hand of God. I think that would color all there recollections of the man, so we should not expect stories like “Jesus was a short man, but liked to keep his beard trimmed. When he ate olives he liked to spit the pits at targets for amusements. he said he left his family to be a disciple of John the baptist only because his brother, Jude, was a better carpenter.”. While these kinds of details pop up in the biographies of Greeks, and those that challenge the biographical nature of the Gospels point to the absence of such trivia from the works, I think giving how the disciples viewed Jesus, that such material would have been seen as unworthy of contemplation. Even people who knew him well came to understand him in terms of his being Christ and Son of God. I never see any sign that Peter and Paul argued on how to view Jesus, as a man or as Lord.

    Bauckham’s ideas regarding the eyewitness accounts from minor named individuals is interesting. I suppose that it would be logical that within 30-40 years of the event, a number of living Christians would have remembered knowing people who met Jesus, even if the actual witness were dead. As an example, I always thought the reference to to the man who carried the cross, identifying him by his children, was a clear sort of shout out to people in the community who were related to that man. There is no other reason to identify someone by their children unless their children are known to the audience.

    The argument you will encounter, that we can’t know that these people were just adding details to make the story more credible, is of course possible, but can’t be considered absolute. We know anyone may be lying, and all text and all witness have degree of doubt built into them, but specific charges that a passage is a result of fraud should be substantiated. Would a historian dismiss a a story of what Kennedy said in private to Kruschev, as recorded in Kennedy’s memoir as a lie that gives us no information on the meeting just because it “could” be? I think not. The kind of trickery that those who question these passages are suggesting is quite odd.

    Such references would make no sense to the original audience, and we would have to assume that these are lies to fool future audiences, which I think shows and unusual amount of fore site, or the author would lie about the origin of the work, so as to claim it is in fact older and from another community. In the first case, this would be like me writing a letter to my union saying I know the union boss personally, knowing full well that they will know otherwise, only in the hope that future readers will be fooled into thinking I was a friend of Jimmy Hoffa. In the second case, I think the pastors of the churches would have sufficient authority and trust invested in them, that they could claim on their own good word that these are genuine accounts with out the need to resort to obscure clues. How many people notice the odd identifying of the man who carried the cross? I may want to explore this further, look at known Psuedographs and see how they attempt to establish there authority.

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