Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Were the Gospels based on eyewitness testimony?

St. Andrews' scholar Richard Bauckham think yes.

HT: Donald Williams.

15 comments:

Steven Carr said...

Bauckham's book illustrates perfectly why CS Lewis did not think much of modern Bible scholars and the methods they use to examine the Bible.

philip m said...

Steven, you read this book? If so what did you think?

Matthew said...

Bauckham is one of the best NT-scholars I know. The book is very much like a doctoral dissertation (and very persuasive). Definitely worth reading.

Steven Carr said...

What did I think? It was very educational.

I just had no idea how bad the arguments for eyewitness testimony were until I saw Bauckham try to find some.

Steven Carr said...

Neil Godfrey demonstrates the fact that the anonymous author of Mark did not use testimony.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I look forward to Carrier's review, as this is a topic on which he actually has some expertise and training to examine.

philip m said...

Steven what do you consider a 'good' argument? (Not an example, but as a definition.)

Steven Carr said...

A good argument for eyewitness testimony would be having eyewitness testimony.

Matthew said...

Steven,
your argument from weblink is unconvincing.

philip m said...

I think you missed Bauckham's point . . . which is that that is exactly what a modern would think. We moderns think about it in black and white, where either it says up front 'this and this happened, and I saw it!' or it's not an eyewitness account.

His point was that through ancient eyes the Gospels would be assumed to be based on eyewitness accounts - is that even a possibility to you?

Steven Carr said...

Neil Godfrey's analysis shows the Gospel of Mark is no more based on eyewitness testimony than the Gospel of Peter is.

Both works are works of fiction.

Anonymous said...

Really? You mean there are no talking crosses and the other four gospels might have gotten the whole who crucified Jesus thing wrong?

You just wait until Witherington and Wright hear about this. They are going to be so upset.

Matthew said...

Neil Godfrey also believed Josephus didn√Ąt write anything about Jesus and that Galatians is not an authentic letter by Paul. His position deserves no more considereation than someone who believes the earth is hollow.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Which Gospel names its author or its sources? They all read like third person narratives.

The Gospel later attributed to "Luke" is anonymous and claims its author collected stories, but none of it is first person testimony. (See especially "What Paul Meant" by Gary Wills for a marvelous chapter on why scholars doubt Luke-Acts)

And over 90% of Mark -- the earliest shortest Gospel -- is reproduced in Matthew and Luke, including incidental phrases. So the Gospel story was passed along from Mark and mutated in the hands of later Gospel writers.

Also, the Gospels are all in Greek not Aramaic which was the lingua franca of Jewish people in Galilee and Palestine, and the language scholars agree Jesus spoke.

Lastly, the so called attestations in the last written Gospel of having "seen" and that "it is better to believe than to see," are nothing short of protesting too loudly, along with the writer's comment that "many more things Jesus did, which if written down I suppose all the world could not contain the books," perhaps at such a late time with tales of Jesus abounding and being written in various added Gospels.

Gary said...

Two of the biggest assumptions that many Christians make regarding the truth claims of Christianity is that, one, eyewitnesses wrote the four gospels. The problem is, however, that the majority of scholars today do not believe this is true. The second big assumption many Christians make is that it would have been impossible for whoever wrote these four books to have invented details in their books, especially in regards to the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection appearances, due to the fact that eyewitnesses to these events would have still been alive when the gospels were written and distributed.

But consider this, dear Reader: Most scholars date the writing of the first gospel, Mark, as circa 70 AD. Who of the eyewitnesses to the death of Jesus and the alleged events after his death were still alive in 70 AD? That is four decades after Jesus' death. During that time period, tens of thousands of people living in Palestine were killed in the Jewish-Roman wars of the mid and late 60's, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem.

How do we know that any eyewitness to the death of Jesus in circa 30 AD was still alive when the first gospel was written and distributed in circa 70 AD? How do we know that any eyewitness to the death of Jesus ever had the opportunity to read the Gospel of Mark and proof read it for accuracy?

I challenge Christians to list the name of even ONE eyewitness to the death of Jesus who was still alive in 70 AD along with the evidence to support your claim.

If you can't list any names, dear Christian, how can you be sure that details such as the Empty Tomb, the detailed resurrection appearances, and the Ascension ever really occurred? How can you be sure that these details were not simply theological hyperbole...or...the exaggerations and embellishments of superstitious, first century, mostly uneducated people, who had retold these stories thousands of times, between thousands of people, from one language to another, from one country to another, over a period of many decades?