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Eyewitnesses?

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  • Bob Schacht
    We haven t discussed much anything from Bob Webb s new Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, so I thought I d open it up with a notice about
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 9, 2003
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      We haven't discussed much anything from Bob Webb's new Journal for the
      Study of the Historical Jesus, so I thought I'd open it up with a notice
      about Bauckham's interesting piece, The Eyewitnesses and the Gospel
      Tradition. We have all mostly been brainwashed by the Form Critics into
      supposing that one or more generations between the crucifixion of Jesus and
      the Gospel of Mark form a great void, with only Paul's Letters to carry the
      developing Christian message forward. This in fact seems to be Crossan's
      stance in his The Birth of Christianity, in which he develops a complex,
      multifaceted methodology for bridging that Great Divide.

      But is this divide real, or is it merely an artifact of a theory of
      literature that emphasizes the method of tracing a literary composition to
      its literary ancestors, and when the chain of dependence stops, without any
      *literary* antecedents, we then claim that the author of the first known
      composition of the chain made up the text "de novo," as Ted Weeden often
      claims, if I remember correctly, or even "ex nihilo," unless the claim can
      be made for a hypothetical (literary!) precursor such as "Q".

      To be sure, an occasional bow is made in the direction of "oral tradition,"
      but few people seem to take it seriously. Bauckham begins with a reference
      to three main ideas about oral tradition in the Judeo-Galilean sitz: A.B.
      Lord's work, Bailey's village model, and Birger Gerhardsson's rabbinic
      model. He then refers us to Samuel Byrskog's book, History as Story: The
      Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History, as the modern
      classic that everyone should read. I'll have to get a copy. He notes that
      by ancient standards, the ideal witness was NOT an impartial observer,
      standing off to the side, but a *participant,* living and acting at the
      center of the events of interest.

      Bauckham re-examines Papias at length, in the light of Byrskog's analysis,
      arriving at a much different assessment than is usually made. And then he
      provides us with a very interesting analysis of names in the NT. He again
      swims against the current of fashionable literary theory that says that
      later authors made up names to enliven bare early narratives by looking to
      see what the evidence of the canonical Gospels suggests. He shows that if
      one accepts Markan priority (as most do), the evidence is that, on the
      whole, names in Mark were omitted by Luke or Matthew, rather than Luke and
      Matthew making up names to spice up a more sparse Markan account. Thus,
      Bultmann's theory in this regard is refuted. Indeed, Bauckham suggests that
      the names may be linked in many cases to actual eye-witnesses.

      This leads him to a new analysis of the healing stories in the Gospels that
      I would like to study at greater length.

      This is only the barest of summaries, and I may not have summarized some of
      the details correctly. But if Bauckham is right, it opens the door to a
      whole new way of looking at sources of the Gospel stories, and oral
      tradition. Indeed, oral tradition in New Testament Judea and Galilee may
      not have been some amorphous, anonymous pool of isolated sayings floating
      about, unmoored to anything else, but specific traditions associated with
      named sources. It suggests to me a whole new way of analyzing NT pericope.

      Has anyone else read this article?

      Bob
      Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
      Northern Arizona University
      Flagstaff, AZ
    • Loren Rosson
      Bob I try to read anything by Bauckham I can get hold of. His arguments are always diligent and his conclusions sound. ... And this has been a serious
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 10, 2003
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        Bob

        I try to read anything by Bauckham I can get hold of.
        His arguments are always diligent and his conclusions
        sound.

        > ....a theory of
        > literature that emphasizes the method of tracing a
        > literary composition to
        > its literary ancestors, and when the chain of
        > dependence stops, without any
        > *literary* antecedents, we then claim that the
        > author of the first known
        > composition of the chain made up the text "de novo,"
        > as Ted Weeden often claims, if I remember
        > correctly, or even "ex nihilo," unless the claim can

        > be made for a hypothetical (literary!) precursor
        > such as "Q".
        >
        > To be sure, an occasional bow is made in the
        > direction of "oral tradition,"
        > but few people seem to take it seriously.

        And this has been a serious liability in NT
        scholarship. At its extreme, it's just plain naive. I
        recently mentioned a book called the Patchwork Gospels
        by Andrew Templeman, who considers the idea of the
        gospels being based upon oral traditions "almost as
        silly as the idea that the gospels fell out of the sky
        on golden tablets" (intro). Templeman is an extreme
        case, granted, but the gist of the statement is
        symptomatic of much that we see these days in the
        field.

        > if Bauckham is right, it opens the door to a
        > whole new way of looking at sources of the Gospel
        > stories, and oral tradition. Indeed, oral
        > tradition in New Testament Judea and Galilee may
        > not have been some amorphous, anonymous pool of
        > isolated sayings floating about, unmoored to
        > anything else, but specific traditions associated
        > with named sources. It suggests to me a whole
        > new way of analyzing NT pericope.
        >
        > Has anyone else read this article?

        I read it not long ago but want to read it again
        (perhaps tonight). I also read his book on gospel
        women. In particular I found interesting his idea that
        for Matthew the Canaanite woman (Mt 15) is a "new
        Rahab" in the same way Jesus is the "new Joshua" (in
        this particular encounter). On the other hand, I'm not
        sure most people would have viewed the four women in
        Matthew's geneology primarily as "Gentiles", as
        Bauckham suggests; more like "notorious women" (Rahab
        the madam, Ruth who solicited for a second husband,
        Tamar's incest, Bathsheba the adulteress). This would
        actually stengthen Bauchkam's general thesis, and
        carry more specific implications about the role of
        women in the early Christian movement.

        Loren Rosson III
        Nashua NH
        rossoiii@...

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      • Bruno Van de Casteele
        ... I have a question about this. I m no expert, so if I m being blatantly ignorant, please say so... How is this oral tradition to be considered (probably
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 11, 2003
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          On Tue, 10 Jun 2003 03:52:31 -0700 (PDT), the Dasein Loren Rosson <rossoiii@...> wrote:

          > > To be sure, an occasional bow is made in the
          > > direction of "oral tradition,"
          > > but few people seem to take it seriously.
          >
          > And this has been a serious liability in NT
          > scholarship. At its extreme, it's just plain naive. I
          > recently mentioned a book called the Patchwork Gospels
          > by Andrew Templeman, who considers the idea of the
          > gospels being based upon oral traditions "almost as
          > silly as the idea that the gospels fell out of the sky
          > on golden tablets" (intro).

          I have a question about this. I'm no expert, so if I'm being blatantly
          ignorant, please say so...

          How is this "oral tradition" to be considered (probably by a majority of
          scholars)?
          Is it really oral stories about "Jesus went up the mountain and said"
          and "he was hanging on the cross and..." or is the combination of
          various elements (like "Confucius say"-type of quotes, e.g. "Even
          Solomon in all his wisdom...") not necessarily related to any Jesus at
          all.

          In the first case, it should be relatively easy to prove (stylistically)
          that oral traditions have been put together. In the second case, the
          redactorial work of putting the various materials together should be
          apparent.

          Well, that would be my question: is it easily provable?

          --
          Bruno Van de Casteele brunovdc@...
          N.P. Puam [ ICQ#: CA957F ]
          http://www.puam.be/

          "Between the idea
          And the reality
          Between the motion
          And the act
          Falls the Shadow."
          T.S. Eliot
        • Bob Schacht
          ... The problem is that this oral tradition is NOT being seriously considered by the majority of scholars. ... Both of your examples are narrative frames. It
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 11, 2003
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            At 11:52 AM 6/11/2003 +0200, Bruno Van de Casteele wrote:

            >I have a question about this. I'm no expert, so if I'm being blatantly
            >ignorant, please say so...
            >
            >How is this "oral tradition" to be considered (probably by a majority of
            >scholars)?

            The problem is that this "oral tradition" is NOT being seriously considered
            by the majority of scholars.

            >Is it really oral stories about "Jesus went up the mountain and said"
            >and "he was hanging on the cross and..."

            Both of your examples are narrative frames. It is known from the Synoptic
            Gospels that the same saying can appear in different narrative frames. This
            is taken by Crossan and others to indicate that narrative frames and
            sayings circulated independently in the oral tradition. But this is not
            necessarily true. It could be that, say, Mark reported an oral tradition
            (narrative frame + sayings) that Matthew &/or Luke decided to dissect for
            their own editorial purposes.

            >or is the combination of various elements (like "Confucius say"-type of
            >quotes, e.g. "Even
            >Solomon in all his wisdom...") not necessarily related to any Jesus at all.

            Well, yes, that's the key question, isn't it?


            >In the first case, it should be relatively easy to prove (stylistically)
            >that oral traditions have been put together. In the second case, the
            >redactorial work of putting the various materials together should be
            >apparent.
            >
            >Well, that would be my question: is it easily provable?

            No, its not, or the issue would have been settled long ago.
            For the conventional view of critical scholarship on oral tradition, your
            best place to start is the so-called "Rules of Evidence" in the
            Introduction to The Five Gospels. Many of the "Rules" (bullets printed in
            red) relate to the Jesus Seminar's consensus view of oral tradition, which
            is heavily influenced by the theories and assumptions of Form Criticism.

            However, I refer you once again to Bauckham's article, and to Samuel
            Byrskog's book, History as Story: The
            Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History. He succeeds in
            poking a few holes in the consensus view.

            Bob



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Loren Rosson
            ... [Bob] ... Bauckham s article indeed undercuts the form critical assumption that most eyewitness-origins were lost under the anonymity of collective
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 13, 2003
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              >>How is this "oral tradition" to be considered
              >>(probably by a majority of scholars)?

              [Bob]
              > The problem is that this "oral tradition" is NOT
              > being seriously considered
              > by the majority of scholars...
              > However, I refer you once again to Bauckham's
              > article, and to Samuel
              > Byrskog's book, History as Story: The
              > Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral
              > History. He succeeds in
              > poking a few holes in the consensus view.

              Bauckham's article indeed undercuts the form critical
              assumption that most eyewitness-origins were lost
              under the anonymity of collective transmission. That
              Papias, for instance, valued and expected to hear what
              actual disciples had said (like Andrew and Peter) and
              were still saying (like Aristion and John the Elder)
              indicates that oral traditions didn't necessarily
              evolve away from eyewitnesses but continued to be
              attached to them. So we can perhaps be stronger than
              speaking simply of the "voice" of oral tradition. We
              can speak of the voices of actual informants who had
              and have memories of the sayings and deeds of Jesus.

              Loren Rosson III
              Nashua NH
              rossoiii@...


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            • Richard Anderson
              ... From: Loren Rosson [mailto:rossoiii@yahoo.com] Sent: Friday, June 13, 2003 7:58 AM To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [XTalk] Eyewitnesses? ...
              Message 6 of 8 , Jun 13, 2003
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                -----Original Message-----
                From: Loren Rosson [mailto:rossoiii@...]
                Sent: Friday, June 13, 2003 7:58 AM
                To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [XTalk] Eyewitnesses?



                >>How is this "oral tradition" to be considered
                >>(probably by a majority of scholars)?

                [Bob]
                > The problem is that this "oral tradition" is NOT
                > being seriously considered
                > by the majority of scholars...
                > However, I refer you once again to Bauckham's
                > article, and to Samuel
                > Byrskog's book, History as Story: The
                > Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral
                > History. He succeeds in
                > poking a few holes in the consensus view.

                Bauckham's article indeed undercuts the form critical
                assumption that most eyewitness-origins were lost
                under the anonymity of collective transmission. That
                Papias, for instance, valued and expected to hear what
                actual disciples had said (like Andrew and Peter) and
                were still saying (like Aristion and John the Elder)
                indicates that oral traditions didn't necessarily
                evolve away from eyewitnesses but continued to be
                attached to them. So we can perhaps be stronger than
                speaking simply of the "voice" of oral tradition. We
                can speak of the voices of actual informants who had
                and have memories of the sayings and deeds of Jesus.

                Loren Rosson III
                Nashua NH
                rossoiii@...


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              • Richard Anderson
                My apologies for sending a blank message; I am still composing my thoughts. Richard H. Anderson
                Message 7 of 8 , Jun 13, 2003
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                  My apologies for sending a blank message; I am still composing my thoughts.

                  Richard H. Anderson
                • David C. Hindley
                  ... eyewitness-origins were lost under the anonymity of collective transmission. That Papias, for instance, valued and expected to hear what actual disciples
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jun 13, 2003
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                    Loren Rosson III says:

                    >>Bauckham's article indeed undercuts the form critical assumption that most
                    eyewitness-origins were lost under the anonymity of collective transmission.
                    That Papias, for instance, valued and expected to hear what actual disciples
                    had said (like Andrew and Peter) and were still saying (like Aristion and
                    John the Elder) indicates that oral traditions didn't necessarily evolve
                    away from eyewitnesses but continued to be attached to them. So we can
                    perhaps be stronger than speaking simply of the "voice" of oral tradition.
                    We can speak of the voices of actual informants who had and have memories of
                    the sayings and deeds of Jesus.<<

                    Why could not Papias' interest in finding the oldest oral witnesses have
                    been due to a distrust of, or dissatisfaction with, oral or written
                    traditions as they existed more than a generation or two from the
                    "eyewitnesses?" Seems he wanted to set the record straight rather than
                    preserve it.

                    In any event, later generations (particularly Eusebius) had none too high
                    opinion of what he related: particularly the saying of Jesus that predicts a
                    bountiful earthly kingdom (a tradition shared by _2 Baruch_).

                    As an interesting side issue to this, the other day I received an e-mail
                    from the IOUDAIOS list from Jim Davila with a link to an abstract of a new
                    book by Rivka Nir, _The Destruction of Jerusalem and the Idea of Redemption
                    in the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch_ (Early Judaism and Its Literature #20,
                    SBL and Brill: 2003) ISBN #1589830504, which proposes that 2 Baruch may
                    represent the point of view of earliest Christianity.
                    http://paleojudaica.blogspot.com/#95497787

                    Respectfully,

                    Dave Hindley
                    Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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