Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baukham Chapter 18

I finally finished "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony" by Richard Baukham. This concluding chapter, "The Jesus of Testimony" mainly concerns how scholars are to treat statements by eyewitnesses to events or those who have heard directly from such eyewitnesses. Baukham points out that past sources for historians which were treated uncritically have received a more thorough investigation. Yet the pendulum has swung too far the other way in that all sources of testimony are considered suspect until proven otherwise. Baukham traces this phenomenon to the Enlightenment which produced an individualism never experienced before. In the field of history, this has led to the view of the historian as interrogator of his sources, not bound to believe any source. This has not boded well for the study of the origin of Scriptures. This professional attitude has led to a distrust of all Biblical claims as to the origin of Scripture. Baukham believes that the approach of Samuel Bysork, in treating the Gospels as documents of ancient historiography, is the best approach in evaluating who wrote them and when were they written. This approach leads to the conclusion that the Gospels were written by either eyewitnesses to Jesus' ministry, or by those who heard from those who were original eyewitnesses. Of course this synopsis does no justice to the final chapter or the book as a whole. In an ideal world, this book should be the stake that is finally driven into the heart of Form Criticism. While I enjoyed the book, I am glad to be finished so I can move on. But first, I will read articles from a theological journal responding to "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses"; this journal contains articles critical to the book as well as articles supporting it, with a final article by Baukham in response. I will also post a brief review on my main blog.

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