Friday, May 05, 2006

Latest EJTh

Here's the contents from the latest European Journal of Theology:

Mike Bird, "Bauckham's The Gospel for All Christians Revisited", 5-13.

"Richard Bauckham's hypothesis that the canonical Gospels were written for circulation among Christians in general and not simply for isolated communities has drawn much criticism. This study presents a response to works that have criticized Bauckham's thesis including those by Philip Esler, Joel Marcus, David Sim, and Margaret Mitchell. The subsequent discussion attempts to defend the utility of Bauckham's proposal in light of these criticism."

Rüdiger Fuchs, “Bisher unbeachtet – zum unterschiedlichen Gebrauch von agathos, kalos und kalōs in der Schreiben an Timotheus und Titus”, 15-34.

Gregory J. Laughery and George R. Diepstra, "Scripture, Science and Hermeneutics", 35-49.


Mowens said...

Certainly looks like an interesting article. In light of your appreciation for Bauckham's proposal, would you say that the Gospels may not be as helpful in understanding the "parting of the ways" as some would suggest? I personally find Watson's essay in that volume very valuable on this point. Blessings.


James said...

I studied under Esler for a semester (critical methods in the NT). Esler is critical of Bauckham's position because it simply follows other "unified" theories. Esler is careful to emphasize the solidarity and (sometimes) isolation of the early Christian communities amongst terrible persecution. Therefore, spanning hundreds of square miles, it's sometimes difficult to defend the position that gospels were written for the world at-large. Rather, and Esler appeals to a common sense approach, it makes sense that communities produced their own texts to preserve oral traditions. Copies of these texts spread out afterward, but initially it makes the most sense that each community would produce its own text for itself.

Michael F. Bird said...

But James the problem is (and its the coup de grace) how then did Matthew and Luke BOTH get hold of Mark and did they intend or think that their Gospels would circulate as widely? Esler's common sense approach might also be to others the myth of isolated introspective communities or be romanticizing the idea of "community". In fact, when we say "Matthean community" what on earth are we talking about? A Christian faction of a synagogue, six households meeting in a triclinium of a benefactor, all the house churches of western Asia minor? The very idea of community has to become so plastic and mallable that it becomes almost meaningless.

Jonathan said...

Hi Mike,

Could you give the full details of your article please as I'll have to order it (issue number etc). Many thanks,


Michael F. Bird said...


Mike Bird, "Bauckham's The Gospel for All Christians Revisited", European Journal of Theology 15.1 (2006): 5-13.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Mike, what is your take on E. Earle Ellis' suggestion that each gospel was associated with a mission under apostolic direction (Matthew: James at Jerusalem; Mark: Peter in Rome; Luke: Paul, wherever I can't recall; John: John in Ephesus)?

James said...

In response to Mike's reply, I think Esler's idea of community is entirely built on identity. This means that while we (2,000 years later) cannot determine specific buildings or houses, we can model certain social constructs. Esler's way of using "community" is how one sees him/herself in the group (individual identity wrapped up in the group identity). The "community" of Matthew identified themselves (arguably) as Jews, as believers in this radical named Jesus, as etc. etc. While I agree with you that the way we use community is often muddled, I don't agree that it is meaningless. While I am (personally) critical of Esler's position, I do think that understanding social identity is important in re-constructing how these particular texts influenced communities.

Concerning the coup de grace, I do not think that modern theologians/historians give enough credit to oral history - that is not a denial of Matt. and Luke's clear use of Mark (any reasonable person can see that both borrowed extensively from Mark). But, I do think that oral tradition breathed life that no longer exists; we have computers, AIM, telephones, etc. We don't give enough credit to ancient story-tellers, campfire stories, and clerics who upheld the oral history. I'm not sure exactly how this fits into the overall picture, but I do think it's an often neglected point.

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

When Bauckham's work first came out I got my hands on a copy and read it with delight. We need more people like Bauckham to light fires under ... ah, well ... anyway to throw molotov cocktails.

There are many silly theories about the gospels that have become unquestioned dogma of the mainstream NT studies establishment. Bauckham has blown the whistle on one of them.

Jonathan said...


Thanks for the reference.

I must admit that when we consider the "holy internet" which allowed for the wide and quick dissemination of material (whether Pauline letters or Mark etc)it does rather tell against isolated communities producing a "Gospel" solely for themselves. If nothing else, the manner in which John's Gospel has been treated might caution us against all such theories! Scholarly imagination can be a wondrous thing.

James, I have also wondered if oral tradition has been underestimated in the production of our Gospels, but I'm not sure that I'd want to say that the desire to preserve oral history would have led to a "Gospel". I'm really looking forward to reading your article now Mike.


Mark Goodacre said...

Mike -- how about an on-line reproduction of this one? It's not a journal many of us can get to. Cheers, Mark