Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chapter Six Of Baukham

Last night I read chapter six of Richard Baukham's "Jesus And The Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony" (see previous articles for links to purchase). The chapter is called "Eyewitnesses 'from the Beginning' " How can one trust that the eyewitnesses relied upon by the Gospel writers were the best sources for information concerning the acts and teachings of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry? Because these particular eyewitnesses had followed Jesus from the very beginning of His ministry and were still with Him at that ministry's end. These witnesses were active participants in Christ's ministry from beginning to end. The Gospels agree that the time span of Christ's ministry covered His baptism by John to His Resurrection. Some would argue that the beginning would also include those preliminary chapters concerning the birth and early youth of Jesus. However, the Greek words used to describe the commencement of Christ's ministry (archein, arxamenos) are used in the above mentioned time span. (Lk. 3:23, 23:5, Acts 1:1, 10:36) A parallel passage occurs in Jn. 15:26-27 when Jesus tells His followers that they will witness to Him since they had been with Him from the beginning, that is, after his baptism by John. Baukham states that when the word "witness" occurs in John's Gospel, it refers not to all believers but specifically to those who had been with Him at the beginning. (Baukham covers this in more detail in chapter 15.) In Luke's introduction to his gospel, he used the Greek word autoptai, which means first hand observer, when referring to witnesses. In fact, Baukham tells us, we are not to consider those Luke mentions in his introduction, eyewitnesses and ministers of the work, as two separate groups. We are to look upon them as those who first were active participants in Christ's ministry and taught what they saw and heard in their own presentations of the Gospel message. Baukham cites another scholar concerning Luke's introduction in dealing with the statement that Luke investigated these sources. The Greek word Luke used, parekoloutrekoti, does not mean to investigate, but "to follow the mind." What Luke actually said was that he fully comprehended the eyewitness testimony of those who had participated in Christ's earthly ministry from the beginning to the end. This qualified Luke to write a history of that ministry. This standard of writing histories based on testimony of those who participated in all the actions described can be found in other historical works of antiquity, such as the works of Josephus. The standard used by the Apostles to choose a replacement for Judas was that the new Apostle had to have been with Jesus from the beginning. Baukham spends the second half of the chapter examining a phenomenon he calls "Inclusio." (I don't know if this designation is of Baukham's own making or some other scholar.) In Mark's Gospel, Simon/Peter is the first name mentioned after Jesus began His ministry and Peter is the last name of a disciple to appear at the end. The same is true in Luke. This indicates that Peter had been with Jesus from the beginning to the end and that he was the main witness Mark relied on. Peter's influence extends to Luke's Gospel as Luke relied on Mark's when Luke wrote his own. This is what Baukham calls an inclusio, a way of framing the work to indicate that the witness most relied upon was present for the entire time period covered by the work. In John, there is an inclusio demonstrating again that Peter was with Jesus for the entirety of His ministry. Yet the first disciple mentioned in John was the disciple Jesus loved and this same disciple is mentioned last, after Peter. In fact, this disciple identifies himself as the author of the Gospel. So the inclusio of Peter is an inclusio within an inclusio, indicating that the disciple whom Jesus loved was even more qualified than Peter as a witness since he was with Jesus previous to Peter. Another inclusio is Luke's inclusion of Christ's female disciples. In Luke, they appear earlier in his Gospel than the others (Lk 8: 2-3) and they are mentioned at the end (Lk 24:6) This indicates that they may have been the sources to Gospel traditions unique to Luke's Gospel. No such inclusio appears in Matthew. Matthew was not with Jesus at the very beginning; he doesn't appear in the Gospel bearing his name until chapter 9. The inclusio does not appear in other writings that come down to us from that time, however, it does appear in works from later time periods. Therefore the phenomenon of the inclusio being a known literary device during the time period when the Gospels were written is merely speculation on Baukham and others' part. Since most literary works from that time period disappeared, Baukham and others believe that it is entirely plausible that literary works which contained standard literary practices that the Gospel writers emulated no longer exist. Therefore, however convincing Baukham's argument is here concerning the inclusio, this is the one part of "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" that is not based on hard evidence. However, more analysis of inclusio appears in chapter 15.

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