FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Religion (Closed) > Biblical Criticism & History
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 03:12 PM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 09-29-2011, 07:15 PM   #1
Adam
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Dixon CA
Posts: 1,150
Default Gospel Eyewitnesses

My thesis is that there are seven written records about Jesus in the gospels. I'll present the first and proceed with the other six after there has been any discussion about the preceeding eyewitnesses. I will not consider myself obligated to reply to any post that merely asserts that there is no evidence, that I am outside consensus scholarship, or that I am a troll etc. The standard Christian apologia for the gospels states that they were written by eyewitnesses or (in the cases of Mark and Luke) were written to give someone else’s eyewitness testimony. This works well for Mark, which is usually understood as Peter’s personal testimony, but the others are typically regarded as composite works. For the Gospel of John, the more it is presented as a unitary work by Christians, the less critics regard it as an eyewitness record. When examined more carefully, however, most of the gospel material can be established as from eyewitnesses.
The starting point for a new look might be Richard Bauckham in his 2006 Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and his 2007 The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple. He rejects the Form Criticism of early 20th Century and endeavors to show that all the gospels are based on eyewitness testimony. He’s not saying that any gospel is itself the work of an eyewitness, but that eyewitnesses stand behind each gospel. The most obvious example is Peter as the basis for Mark. The Gospel of John is more complicated. By dropping John as the author and eyewitness behind that gospel, he goes on to show that there are several eyewitnesses consulted by the man who did write John. The same would be more obviously true of the Gospel of Luke. He says he consulted eyewitnesses or eyewitness testimony. As for John, Bauckham explains the gradual emergence of the Beloved Disciple as the author’s way of introducing himself, a non-apostle, who only from John 13 presents himself as the eyewitness who needs no other validation. The Beloved Disciple is the author of John, but we don’t necessarily know who he is.
Bauckham seemed to stop in no-man’s-land. For Evangelicals, and even more for conservative Roman Catholics, establishing any eyewitness(es) behind John is not good enough if it is not John the Apostle. That he did not name the eyewitness(es) for sure is not satisfying to Christians not even so conservative. Trying to establish eyewitnesses and even suggesting their names is anathema to scholars of a more liberal bent. If my opinion matters, it’s not enough to go against the grain of scholarship and suggest eyewitnesses, but without closing the deal and presenting evidence for specific eyewitnesses and which parts each wrote. But to do that Bauckham would have had to cross his Evangelical base by acknowledging sources within the gospels, and he was not prepared to do that.
For most of two centuries now, scholarship has shown more and more willingness to break up the gospels into constituent parts. For some scholars this was a way to salvage evidentiary and historical grounds for knowing Jesus. This was particularly true of the concept of Marcan Priority or in establishing a large Ur-Marcus source within it. Likewise many scholars in “demarcating” a Q Source (redundant, yes?) in Matthew and Luke suggested that the Logia said to be from Matthew should be understood to be Q. The Two-Source Theory provides for this. However, less and less attention is being paid to eyewitnesses standing behind even these. There is also the Four-Source Theory, but no one seems to have suggested one basic eyewitness to be behind L for Luke or M for Matthew. However, there is a good case (which I will show) for identifying a Simon as the L Source, a man who was a disciple of John the Baptist and one of Jesus’s Seventy-Two.
As for the Gospel of John, critics have readily singled out the Signs, the Passion Narrative, and (by some) the Discourses as due to sources. I will show that each of these has an eyewitness author and the main Editor was himself an eyewitness. My case is that the upshot of two centuries of Higher Criticism properly is to identify seven eyewitnesses to the four gospels.


Tracing sources of the gospels would seem to start with the earliest written documents, but the logic starts better with the foundation upon which the other sources and additions were built. This source is the Passion Narrative, the largest part of the material common to both John and the Synoptics. The source for the information in it is most likely John Mark, who was the most likely “disciple known to the high priest”. (See John 18:15-16, 20:2-9, in which in John 20:2 the English word “love” is phileo in the Greek, not “agape” as in John 13. In John 18-19 we get events and direct quotes that Peter would not have witnessed.)
John 18 launches right out with Jesus going to the Garden. Whereas Teeple believed the information here came from the Synoptics and was later enlarged upon, he more correctly called it a source. No one regards these chapters as from the Signs Source. This foundation source from John Mark is the following:
John 18:1b, 1d,ii. 3,vi. 10b,v. 12,iv. 13b,i. 15-19,xiii. 22,ii 25b,ii. 27-31,vii. 33-35,vii. (36-40);x. 19:1-19,xl. 21-23,viii. 28-30,vii. 38b,iii. 40-42;vi. 20:1,iv. 3-5,viii. 8,ii. 11b-14a,iv. 19b,ii. 22-23,v. 26-27,viii. 30,ii.
Some of the later passages in John 20 are as likely to have been added as P-Strand, but as discussed later this may have come from the same author.
A great many scholars have believed that a Passion Narrative was the first element of the gospels to be written. It seems similarly often believed that John Mark was very young at this time and lived near Jerusalem, so his personal testimony would not tend to include narrative preceding John 18. He is the first of seven identifiable eyewitnesses in the gospels.
Adam is offline  
Old 09-29-2011, 07:43 PM   #2
Tommy
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Tasmania
Posts: 383
Default

Interesting. My feeling is that the veracity of the gospels (or their sources) as eyewitness testimony is discredited by the historical reality that the vast majority of Jews, Gentiles and Romans who might have met the Jesus described therein carried on with their previous beliefs (including those who were specifically waiting for a Messiah).
Tommy is offline  
Old 09-29-2011, 09:20 PM   #3
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
My thesis is that there are seven written records about Jesus in the gospels.
Does your thesis have any chronology for the "seven written eyewitness records" about Jesus in the gospels?
mountainman is offline  
Old 09-29-2011, 10:37 PM   #4
Doug Shaver
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Bernardino, Calif.
Posts: 5,435
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
I will not consider myself obligated to reply to any post that merely asserts that there is no evidence, that I am outside consensus scholarship, or that I am a troll etc.
Fair enough. If I think you have no evidence, I will not merely assert it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
The standard Christian apologia for the gospels states that they were written by eyewitnesses or (in the cases of Mark and Luke) were written to give someone else’s eyewitness testimony.
That might depend on what you regard as standard. As I understand the literature that I have read, with very rare exceptions only very conservative scholars think eyewitnesses had anything to do with the writing of the gospels.
Doug Shaver is offline  
Old 09-29-2011, 11:27 PM   #5
Adam
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Dixon CA
Posts: 1,150
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Shaver View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
The standard Christian apologia for the gospels states that they were written by eyewitnesses or (in the cases of Mark and Luke) were written to give someone else’s eyewitness testimony.
That might depend on what you regard as standard. As I understand the literature that I have read, with very rare exceptions only very conservative scholars think eyewitnesses had anything to do with the writing of the gospels.
By "standard Christian apologia" I did mean those "very conservative scholars" you are talking about. However, such a liberal scholar as Bishop John A. T. Robinson came around to dating all the New Testament to before 70 A. D., which I regard as largely correct. That the Synoptic gospels were written before 70 A. D. was standard scholarship of the mid-20th Century. In the 1957 Encyclopedia Americana John Foster Estes listed several eyewitness touches to the Gospel of Mark. Later in the 20th Century the historicity of even the Gospel of John came into favor. Archaeology and study of the calendars in use showed that Jerusalem before 70 A. D. was well known to the author.
Adam is offline  
Old 09-29-2011, 11:39 PM   #6
Adam
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Dixon CA
Posts: 1,150
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainman View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
My thesis is that there are seven written records about Jesus in the gospels.
Does your thesis have any chronology for the "seven written eyewitness records" about Jesus in the gospels?
As I say in my post #5, I believe all the gospels were written by 70 A.D. I even argue (in a forthcoming post) that my third eyewitness, Nicodemus, would have to have written during Jesus's lifetime. I argue that Peter and John Mark got together in 44 A.D. to write Peter's memors, and that John Mark and Andrew had written before this. Q was also written very early, probably by Matthew. That's five of seven eyewitnesses very early, the other two before 70 A. D.
Adam is offline  
Old 09-30-2011, 01:25 AM   #7
Toto
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 40,549
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
...
The standard Christian apologia for the gospels states that they were written by eyewitnesses or (in the cases of Mark and Luke) were written to give someone else’s eyewitness testimony. This works well for Mark, which is usually understood as Peter’s personal testimony,
Mark is only understood as Peter's testimony by off the chart conservatives. Peter does not come off very favorably in Mark. The whole gospel appears to be more of a literary product than eyewitness testimony

Quote:
but the others are typically regarded as composite works. For the Gospel of John, the more it is presented as a unitary work by Christians, the less critics regard it as an eyewitness record. When examined more carefully, however, most of the gospel material can be established as from eyewitnesses.

The starting point for a new look might be Richard Bauckham in his 2006 Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (or via: amazon.co.uk) and his 2007 The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple (or via: amazon.co.uk).
You won't find many fans of Bauckham here. Neil Godfrey has an exhaustive review chapter by chapter on his blog. (Quick summary: "convoluted nonsense .. as he attempts to justify branches of medieval and ancient scholarship against post-Enlightenment rationalism.")

Quote:
... The Gospel of John is more complicated. By dropping John as the author and eyewitness behind that gospel, he goes on to show that there are several eyewitnesses consulted by the man who did write John. The same would be more obviously true of the Gospel of Luke. He says he consulted eyewitnesses or eyewitness testimony.
An assertion in a theological document that "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" does not say that the author of Luke himself consulted eyewitnesses. And that prologue does not make it "obviously true" that there were any eyewitnesses.

Quote:
As for John, Bauckham explains the gradual emergence of the Beloved Disciple as the author’s way of introducing himself, a non-apostle, who only from John 13 presents himself as the eyewitness who needs no other validation. The Beloved Disciple is the author of John, but we don’t necessarily know who he is.
Can you think of a reason for this Disciple to keep his identity secret?

Quote:
Bauckham seemed to stop in no-man’s-land. For Evangelicals, and even more for conservative Roman Catholics, establishing any eyewitness(es) behind John is not good enough if it is not John the Apostle. That he did not name the eyewitness(es) for sure is not satisfying to Christians not even so conservative. Trying to establish eyewitnesses and even suggesting their names is anathema to scholars of a more liberal bent.
It's not anathema, it just makes no sense. The gospels were written well after the events, if there were any such events. They contain miraculous events that are not historical, plus events that appear to have been based on other literary sources, including the Septuagint. They have none of the usual indications of reliability. They are anonymous, and the authors do not give their sources or discuss the strength of the evidence.

Trying to claim that the gospels were based on eyewitnesses appears to be motivated by faith and not by any rational evidence.

Quote:
If my opinion matters, it’s not enough to go against the grain of scholarship and suggest eyewitnesses, but without closing the deal and presenting evidence for specific eyewitnesses and which parts each wrote. But to do that Bauckham would have had to cross his Evangelical base by acknowledging sources within the gospels, and he was not prepared to do that. ...
I don't quite follow this. The Evangelical base? Is this an election?
Toto is offline  
Old 09-30-2011, 03:15 AM   #8
Stringbean
Regular Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Southern United States
Posts: 149
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainman View Post

Does your thesis have any chronology for the "seven written eyewitness records" about Jesus in the gospels?
As I say in my post #5, I believe all the gospels were written by 70 A.D. I even argue (in a forthcoming post) that my third eyewitness, Nicodemus, would have to have written during Jesus's lifetime. I argue that Peter and John Mark got together in 44 A.D. to write Peter's memors, and that John Mark and Andrew had written before this. Q was also written very early, probably by Matthew. That's five of seven eyewitnesses very early, the other two before 70 A. D.
Disagree....

http://www.jesuspolice.com/common_error.php?id=19

Quote:
That's five of seven eyewitnesses very early, the other two before 70 A. D.
My next question is how do you figure any of these people were eyewitnesses? And were eyewitnesses to what? A Jesus? If memory serves me correctly this Jesus was strung up on a stick and died supposedly around 30 AD or sometime around that period. The Gospel writers wrote some 30 to 100 years after the fact. The most they could be considered is second hand hearsay and hardly first hand testimony.
Stringbean is offline  
Old 09-30-2011, 07:04 AM   #9
aa5874
Contributor
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: the fringe of the caribbean
Posts: 18,988
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainman View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
My thesis is that there are seven written records about Jesus in the gospels.
Does your thesis have any chronology for the "seven written eyewitness records" about Jesus in the gospels?
As I say in my post #5, I believe all the gospels were written by 70 A.D. I even argue (in a forthcoming post) that my third eyewitness, Nicodemus, would have to have written during Jesus's lifetime. I argue that Peter and John Mark got together in 44 A.D. to write Peter's memors, and that John Mark and Andrew had written before this. Q was also written very early, probably by Matthew. That's five of seven eyewitnesses very early, the other two before 70 A. D.
So far, you have ONLY stated what you BELIEVE.

I am EAGERLY waiting for your CREDIBLE HISTORICAL corroborative sources that can support your BELIEFS.

I hope you understand that ONCE you introduce the NT as a credible source then Jesus was a NON-HISTORICAL character and could have ONLY been BELIEVED to have existed as the Child of a Holy Ghost.

The FOUR Gospels based on the description of Jesus may be EYEWITNESS reports that there were People of Antiquity who BELIEVED the Jesus stories in the Canon.

It would appear that the FOUR GOSPELS may reasonable be historical accounts of what was BELIEVED in antiquity and NOT historical accounts of Jesus as the Child of a Ghost, the Word that was God, or the Creator.

The Extant Gospels are in effect evidence of ACTUAL BELIEF of the 4th century.
aa5874 is offline  
Old 09-30-2011, 08:20 AM   #10
Solo
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 2,579
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam View Post
....my third eyewitness, Nicodemus, would have to have written during Jesus's lifetime.
Why do I get this nagging feeling that this execgetical theory will at best excite the born-again to pee into their adult diapers ?

Best,
Jiri
Solo is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:24 PM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.