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Comments by Michael Calum Jacques author of '1st Century Radical'.,
This review is from: Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, The: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John (Paperback)
Richard Bauckham is one of the better know, and better respected, evangelical scholars actively engaged in New Testament scholarship. He is the professor of New Testament studies and Bishop Wardlaw Professor at the University of St. Andrews and is also a Fellow of the British Academy. At St Andrews, Prof Bauckham is listed as teaching New Testament theology and history;the Catholic epistles; early Judaism; the Bible and contemporary issues.
Prof Bauckham's other works include, perhaps most notably, 'Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony' (2008) and his recent 'Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament's Christology of Divine Identity' (2008). He has also written and/or edited a myriad of other scholarly essays such as his 'Papias and Polycrates on the Origins of the Fourth Gospel', Journal of Theological Studies 44.1 (1993), which is germane to the book we are considering here.
This book is, in effect, a library of 12 distinct essays which address issues pertaining to Johannine history and theology. These essays themselves date variously between 1993 and 2007 and have won plaudits from scholars such as Martin Hengel - Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Judaism at Tubingen, Germany and, perhaps slightly more predictably, from D. Moody Smith, now Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Duke University's Divinity School.
In the latter's review he quite correctly points out that this collection of essays is not simply that; it is far more than a flung together compilation. One of the main features of this work is the fact that the author employs and devotes serious attention to the commentary and testimony of various patristic sources as well as engaging in a detailed scrutiny of what he believes to be areas, both textual and topical, which have been either ignored or forgotten by the Johannine community of scholars.
Evangelical Prof Bauckham may well be, but he does not follow the script at each and every turn and is willing and quick to engage and challenge many accepted tenets of Johannine scholarship, most notably, of course, the question of the Fourth Gospel's 'targeted readership or audience'. Even scholars who would by no means share the writers final conclusions have praised the freshness of approach and the willingness of Prof Bauckham to announce that 'it ain't necessarily so!'
Yet the question still begs of how much actual viable historical substance can be sucked out of a work so pickled and drenched in theology and downright spiritual symbolism (and some would also add at least a helping of proto-Gnostic theosophy to that!) and here, inevitably, the reader must draw her or his own conclusions. That will require even more than this thought-provoking and stimulating library of Johannine essays can provide.
Michael Calum Jacques
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