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31 of 62 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly disappointing!, 24 Jan 2008
This review is from: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Hardcover)
This book will primarily be of interest to readers who are happy with the basic principles of the form critical approach. Bauckham's assumption that the dates of writing of the Gospels can be set around 50 years after the events they narrate has been robustly challenged by many scholars in recent years: if so, why no reference anywhere to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the destruction of the temple? Surely any "redactor" would be keen to introduce this? And as to "eyewitness testimony", what we have is a lengthy study of eyewitness tradition, but not linked to live examples - I would have thought it reasonable, considering Mark's Gospel, to see an analysis of the shift through Greek usage to underlying Hebrew/Aramaic language and culture in 6:39-40 (the "symposia symposia" and "prasiai prasiai" statements) - these were being explored in 1965 by Lord Elton of Queen's College Oxford, and in Cranfield's commentary on Mark (1959).

It is also hard to understand how a book on this subject, published in 2006, could contain only one reference to the work of Carsten Thiede (mis-spelled "Tiede"!!), and that to his discussion of the identity of the companion of Cleopas on the road to Emmaus. Shall we pretend the controversial issues he raised about the possible very early dates of writing of the Gospels don't exist? Shall we cling to the form critical assumptions with blind prejudice?

No, the title and publishers blurb promise a far more interesting narrative than Bauckham has written. Rarely have I felt so misled and money so ill-spent as with this book.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Dec 2008 11:22:26 GMT
Mr Johnson's point about Jerusalem may seem to be crucial. It must have been a shattering event for any Jew, regardless of whether they lived in Jerusalem or not. So why isn't it mentioned by any of the New Testament authors?

Or from another point of view, the fall of Jerusalem may seem to be crucial. It must have been a shattering event for any Jew, regardless of whether they lived in Jerusalem or not. But why would we expect it to be mentioned by any of the New Testament authors?

If the authors had wanted to mention the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 - about 40 years after the Crucifixion - where would they put it in their narratives? Should the gospels perhaps have a little codicil at the end? Something along the lines of:

"So Jesus ascended into heaven - and by the way, 40 years later the Romans sacked Jerusalem"

And why would they want to add such a codicil anyway? If the purpose of the New Testament is to bring news of Jesus Christ's life, death, purpose and teaching, what is the relevance of an event, however momentous, which occurred 40 years after his mission ended, and has no direct link to Jesus' life and work?

As to the work of Carston Thiede, with all due respect Thiede's claims regarding the re-dating certain documents has not received a level of support from the relevant sources that would make it useful to discuss it in this book. If scholars had to mention every single person who has made a contribution to the dating debate, reegardless of whether those contributions had gained any significant level of support amongst other scholars, their books would be impossibly long - with little or no additional value.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jan 2009 12:31:55 GMT
Neutral says:
Mr Bradbury is correct. Carston Thiede's ( I trust the spelling is correct) claims have been substantially rejected by Biblical scholars. Thiede's own unsubstantiated claims on this and other matters are worthy of the disappointment Mr Johnson professes.

In addition, the Fall of Jerusalem was not that important to early Christians. By AD 70 they had already begun to take the message to gentiles as the Jews had rejected Jesus as the Messiah. With the end of the world nigh (as they saw it) the preaching of the gospel remained the main purpose of Christian living, not castigating the Jews.

Posted on 17 Jan 2009 00:42:30 GMT
PT says:
Pardon my ignorance, but what is the "form critical approach"?

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Sep 2009 22:00:38 BDT
K. Moss says:
Hi Neutral!!

Found you again - we normally participate on one of the forums.

I'm about to buy this book.

Kevin

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2009 01:30:24 GMT
Hello, I may be making a "fool" of myself but in regard to ad 70, the destruction of the temple, would it have been reasonable to think that one of the gospel writers could have added a : ' as Jesus had foretold' after their recording of Jesus' prophecy.

mickey

Posted on 23 Dec 2009 09:37:33 GMT
Thats precisely the point - he did foretell it, so if they wanted they would have simply mentioned it and said - oh yeah, he foretold this.

Its a stupid claim, kinda like the claim that he never existed. Its just shody scholarship!

Posted on 18 Feb 2010 21:33:52 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Feb 2010 21:40:48 GMT
Tim Heydon says:
Contrary to what has been said above, Carsten Thiede was not the first to suggest that the Gospels were written prior to AD 70 because they do not mention the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. As Thiede himself remarked in a letter to the Sunday Telegraph on this very point, that honour falls to Bishop John Robinson of 'Honest to God' fame ("a liberal Bishop if ever there was one") in his book 'Redating the the New Testament.' Theide thought that Robinson had never been refuted.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Nov 2010 16:41:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Nov 2010 16:41:59 GMT
Point well made!

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Sep 2011 21:30:35 BDT
Writing as an ordinary reader rather than a scholar, I understand that 'Form Criticism' begins with the observation that Mark's Gospel consists of a collection of anecdotes about Jesus, loosely strung together (each anecdote is called by scholars a 'pericope'). The idea is then that each anecdote can be classified into one of a number of 'forms', e.g. a pronouncement story, a tale, a passion story, or a myth. As far as I understand it, the 'Form Critical' scholars did not believe that the Gospels contained much information about the historical Jesus and did not believe in the miracles of Jesus. These were assumptions that they made - I don't think they produced any evidence to support their assumptions.

Posted on 24 Aug 2012 15:59:49 BDT
Martin Johnson, I think you are far too negative! Bauckham is too form-critical for me too, but that is actually entirely irrelevant to the points he makes. I also think the Gospels are far earlier than Bauckham allows, but his argument is independent of the dates of the Gospels. Of course, if they are earlier than he thinks then his argument (strong already) is strengthened further! Your suggestion of further work is good, but again, the fact the the approach is fruitful does not diminish Bauckham's contribution - rather the reverse I would have thought.

I thought the book was brilliant, and well worth double the money I spent (and more)!
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