Monday, October 5, 2009

Baukham Chapter 12

In this chapter, entitled "Anonymous Traditions or Eyewitness Testimony?", Baukham continues to analyze the models of transmission that have been put forward to explain how the testimony of the original eyewitnesses of the acts and teachings of Jesus ended up in the form of the four canonical Gospels. While Baukham lauds the theories of Kenneth Baily, who greatly influenced the work of Dunn and N.T. Wright, Baukham contends that Baily's model of oral transmission is not an adequate model. Baily believes that the traditions concerning Jesus came into being through a community controlled process, as opposed to authorized individuals maintaining the purity of the teaching. Baukham disagrees. First, he points out that the Form Criticism that has been applied earlier to Biblical studies by figures such as Bultman has almost uniformally dismissed the value of individual recollection in favor of a collective memory. Much current scholarship in the field is now challenging this attitude. Baily and Dunn focus their models upon Palestinian villages without reference to the authority exercised by the Jerusalem Church during the first decades after Jesus ascended into Heaven. Although as the Gospel spread and the individual churches covered a wide geographical area, the churches were part of a network which was engaged in close communion with each other. Individual leaders traveled frequently so that it was not uncommon for villages to be visited by an original witness to the ministry of Jesus or one who was trained by such eyewitnesses from the Jerusalem Church. Apparently, those churches addressed by the writer of Hebrews were formed by the testimony of such eyewitnesses (Heb. 2:3-4). Paul himself acknowledges the authority of the Jerusalem Church in Gal. 1:1-10 and Rom. 15:19. The Jerusalem Church's authority was the purpose for the collection Paul organized (cf. Rom. 15:25-27). Such authority should not be surprising considering that the early Christians considered Christ's teachings and ministry to be the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture. In I Cor. 15: 3-8, Paul's account of Christ's appearance after the His resurrection is dominated by the names of key figures in the Jerusalem Church. Paul was counting on the continuing accessibility of those key figures if those he was writing to wished to investigate on their own. In fact, the ultimate purpose of the Gospels was to preserve that accessibility to eyewitness testimony after the original eyewitnesses died. Of all the testimony available to the Church, the fact that the four canonical Gospels survived as the authorized accounts of Christ's ministry can be attributed to the strong belief as to their origins as the testimony of the original eyewitnesses. The mode of transmission of the four Gospels has its antecedents in the manner in which Pharisees and Hellenistic Philosophical Schools transmitted their teachings. No where in the New Testament or in early Christian Literature is the model of Community control mentioned as the main source of transmission. This quote from Papius, which appears more than once in Baukham, is example of the testimony available to us as to how the original testimony of the eyewitnesses to Christ's ministry was transmitted:

"I shall not hesitate to put into properly ordered form for you (sing.) everything I learned carefully in the past from the elders and noted down well, for the truth of which I vouch. For unlike most people I did not enjoy those who have a great deal to say, but those who teach the truth. Nor did I enjoy those who recall someone else's commandments, but those who the commandments given by the Lord to the faith and preceding from the truth itself. And if by chance anyone who had been in attendance on the elders should come my way, I enquired about the words of the elders-[that is,] what [according to the elders] Andrew or Peter said, or Philip, or Thomas or James or John or Matthew or any of the Lord's disciples, and whatever Ariston and the elder John, the Lord's disciples, were saying. For I did not think that information from books would profit me as much as information from a living and surviving voice."

Papius wrote these words long after the original eyewitnesses died, but he was writing of a time in his life when many eyewitnesses were still alive and when Matthew, Luke and John were compiling their Gospels, using the same criteria for authority as mentioned by Papius.

Those listed in the Book of Acts as original eyewitnesses to Christs ministry:

Peter (chapters 1-15), James (12:2), the sons of Zebedee and the rest of the original twelve (1:13), Matthius (1: 23-26), James the Lord's brother (12:17, 15: 13-21, 21: 18-25) and other brothers (1:14, not named), Barnabus (4:36-37, 9:27, 11:22-26,30, 12:25-15:39), Mnason (21:16-an early original disciple of Jesus, one of the founders of the Jerusalem Church), Silas (15:22-18:5).

Those listed in Acts who may have been original eyewitnesses to Christ's ministry:

Agabus (11:28, 21:10-11), Ananius and sapphira (5:1-10), John Mark (12:12, 25, 13:5,13), Stephen (6:5-8:1), Philip the Evangelist (6:5-6, 8:4-40, 21:8-90 and the rest of the seven (6:5), Philip's daughters (21:9), Rhoda (12:13-15).

Those mentioned by Paul to have been original eyewitnesses of Christ's ministry:

Peter (I Cor 1:12, 3:22, 9:5, 15:5, Gal. 1:18, 2:9, 11-14), John the son of Zebedee (Gal.2:9), the rest of the twelve (I Cor. 15:5), James the Lord's brother (I Cor. 15:7, Gal. 1:19, 2: 9, 12), and the other brothers (ICor. 9:5), Barnabus (ICor. 9:6, Gal. 2: 1,13, Col. 4:10), Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7) Silvanus (IICor. 1:19, I Thess. 1:1, IIThess. 1:1).

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