Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 7

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 1
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 2
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 3
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 4-5
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 6
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 7


One of the reasons why I have enjoyed Dr. Richard Bauckham's book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses so far is because it is like an investigation. It looks into the story behind the story. We all know the story of the Gospels well, but how did they come to be? How did each author compile and compose their material? Bauckham's book investigates what source, form, and historic criticism and scholarship has to say about the Four Evangelists.

With that said, Bauckham turns to the Gospel Mark which many believe was the first written and become a major source for the other Synoptics. Bauckham's main argument in chapter 7 is simply that behind the Gospel of Mark is a clear Petrine influence. Though a number of recent scholars reject this conclusion, Bauckham makes his case. His argument is based on several evidences. First, to review his argument of chapter 6, Mark's Gospel has the highest frequency of reference to Peter among the Gospels, and that it uses the inclusio of eyewitness testimony to indicate that Peter was its main eyewitness source (155).

From here, Bauckham dives deeper into the Marcan text. His first major point is what he calls the Plural-to-Singuular Narrative Device and admittedly I struggled to follow his argument here. By this, Bauckham highlights Mark's unique tendency to use a plural verb (or more than one plural verb), without an explicit subject to describe the movements of Jesus and his disciples, followed immediately by a singular verb or pronoun referring to Jesus alone (156). Matthew and Luke, for the most part avoid this phenomena. They have a clear tendency to prefer a singular verb to Mark's plurals encompassing both Jesus and the disciples (157).

Perhaps a few examples would be helpful. First, compare Mark 5:38 with its parallels in the Synoptics:
Mark 5:38 - They *came to the house of the synagogue official; and He *saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing

Luke 8:51 - When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother.
Also, compare Mark 14:32 with its parallels:
Mark 14:32 - They *came to a place named Gethsemane; and He *said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” 33 And He *took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled

Matthew 26:36 - Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
Immediately, one ought to notice Mark's use of the plural "they" while the Synoptics prefer in the parallel passage "he." Although his argument longer and more complicated than I can reproduce here, Bauckham concludes that this unique method of Mark is his way of deliberately reproducing in his narrative the first-person perspective - the "we" perspective - from which Peter naturally told his stories. (164)

He then goes on to show the role Peter plays in Mark. He ultimately concludes that Peter is an individual throughout, but not isolated from the community either of the broader Twelve or the inner circle of disciples. Again, his argument cannot be reproduced in full here.

In the end, however, consider Bauckham's conclusion:
Thus, in deliberately preserving the perspective of his main eyewitness source through much of the Gospel, Mark is no less a real author creating his own Gospel out of the traditions he had from Peter (as well as, some others).

The perspective is that of Peter among the disciples, whether the inner group of three or more generally the Twelve. The perspective is Peter's "we" perspective, the perspective of Peter qua member of the group of disciples, rather than an "I" perspective, that of an individual relating to Jesus without reference to the others . . . Therefore there are no "private" reminiscences of Jesus, such as modern readers might expect in aw or closely based on Peter's eyewitness testimony. such expectations are inappropriate because it is Peter's teaching, not his autobiographical reminiscence, that lies behind Mark's Gospel. (179-180)
Overall, of all of the chapters in this book thus far, chapter 7 is the most difficult to follow and the least convincing. If it were not for the final two sentences of the above quote, I'm not sure I would adopt his conclusion. The distinction between Peter's testimony (almost dictating the Gospel itself) and Peter's teaching is important. His discussion of the Plural-to-Singuular Narrative Device needs time to sink in and I would love to see what other scholars have to say about it.

I am surprised, though, that Bauckham does not mention the Petrine epistles which include a reference to the Transfiguration nor to non-canonical evidence. The early church clearly connected Mark's Gospel with Peter's testimony. Consider, for example, what Eusebius said regarding Mark
For information on these points, we can merely refer our readers to the books themselves; but now, to the extracts already made, we shall add, as being a matter of primary importance, a tradition regarding Mark who wrote the Gospel, which he [Papias] has given in the following words: "And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements." This is what is related by Papias regarding Mark.
Eusebius makes a similar argument as Bauckham here and includes one of his references to Papias in whom Bauckham uses throughout this book. Clearly from the perspective of the early church, there was a connection between Peter and Mark.


For more:
"The Historical Jesus": A Lecture by Ben Witherington
"The Story of Jesus" Documentary
We've All Heard This Before: "Zealot" and the Same Search For the Missing Jesus  
12 Proofs of Jesus' Deity From the Synoptic Gospels
Ravi Zacharias' 12 Arguments For the Historicity of the Resurrection
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
"Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock: A Review
NT Wright: Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
"The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster: A Review
"The Case for Easter"
"The Case For the Real Jesus" by Lee Strobel
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
The Quest For the Historical Satan: The Entire Series  
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