Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Jesus & The Eyewitnesses

There can be only ONE! And if I could only read one book on the historical Jesus this year, this MUST be that one book! Richard Bauckham had done it again and put us in his service by offering another devastating critique of our awkward assumptions. I'm baffled as to how he does this, and how many more times he will do it, but I'm thankful that such a powerful voice exists: to demolish and challenge vague unsubstantiated claims of the past. Its a treat to devour his scholarship.

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.
As Chris Tilling observes, only Bauckham could write this book and gain a fair hearing. My question to Bauckham would be: How many times, still, are you going to single handedly turn the tide of NT scholarship, for the better? And for those interested in Bauckham the question must be: Does this feat make him the greatest living NT scholar? Cause where I'm standing, it must. And the best thing, is that he has written nothing major on Paul - YET! AND, we're still waiting for his tome: Jesus and the Identity of GOD!, which will no doubt deal with not only Paul, but the entire NT, and redefine the way we deal with Christological Monotheism...

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