Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 18

"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
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 8
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 9
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 10-11
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 12
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 13
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 14
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 15
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 16
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 17
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 18


We have come finally to the last and final chapter of Dr. Richard Bauckham's important work Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. In this last chapter, Bauckham moves from historography to epistemology. Can we trust testimony in general and the Jesus of testimony in particular?

He begins with summarizing his argument thus far:
The historical task of this book is now complete. We have argued that the Gospels put us in close touch with the eyewitnesses of the history of Jesus. The gospel writers, in their different ways, present their Gospels as based on and incorporating the testimony of the eyewitnesses. The literary and theological strategies of these writers are not directed to superseding the testimony of the eyewitnesses but to giving it a permanent literary vehicle. In one case, we have argued, an eyewitness has authored his own Gospel, and it is notable that precisely this Gospel, John's, is the one that incorporates the most extensive reflection on the significance of the eyewitness testimony. There is no epistemological chasm between the eyewitness testimony and the theological significance of the events as this author develops it. Not being eyewitnesses themselves, the other gospel writers are less theologically ambitious. Of course, the writing of a Gospel was significantly an interpretative act in a variety of ways (the selection and arrangement of testimony in a unified narrative are themselves interpretative and were entirely unavoidable in the writing of a Gospel). But the interpretative act of writing a Gospel intended continuity with the testimony of the eyewitnesses who, of course, had already interpreted, who could not but have combined in their accounts the empirically observable with the perceived significance of the events. They were not just reminiscing but telling stories of significance. The Jesus the Gospels portray is Jesus as these eyewitnesses portrayed him, the Jesus of testimony. (472)
But is testimony trustworthy? In short, Bauckham answer is yes. For one, we trust testimony every day. There is no reason to distrust testimony because it is simply testimony. Furthermore, we should note that the ancient historians, including the Gospel writers, were not easily duped when it came to testimony. Bauckham shows here that ancient historians preferred eyewitnesses testimony over second or third-hand accounts. Although modern historians rely heavily on archeology, even it cannot replace the importance of testimony.

This is all to say that the Gospels can be trusted contrary to what many modern scholars suggests. The number of quests for the historic Jesus have famously bifurcated the Jesus of history from the Christ of Scripture unnecessarily. The writers, and the testimonies they record, are reliable.

Ultimately, this final chapter is the most difficult to follow. It would seem to digest its contents would require a degree in epistemology, something I do not have. Nevertheless, here is how Bauckham concludes the book:
In summary, if the interests of Christian faith and theology in the Jesus who really lived are to recognize the disclosure of God in this history of Jesus, then testimony is the theologically appropriate, indeed the theologically necessary way of access to the history of Jesus, just as testimony is also the historically appropriate, indeed the historically necessary way of access to this “uniquely unique” historical event. It is in the Jesus of testimony that history and theology meet. (508)

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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