Thursday, April 09, 2009
Gospel Audiences: Martin Hengel
Over at NTGeek, Greg Carey has a post on The Gospels: For All Christians? where he briefly critiques Bauckham's argument that the Gospels were not intended exclusively for isolated and introspective communities belonging to the Evangelistgs. Many have criticised Bauckham for this argument (e.g. Phil Esler, David Sim, Margaret Mitchell, and Thomas Kazen) and I've defended him in two articles in Journal of Theological Studies and European Journal of Theology (I should also mention that Micky Klink is editing a book in the LNTS monograph series as a follow up to Bauckham's work on the Gospels and it should be out next year). I think Bauckham is a bit misrepresented. He doesn't deny that the Gospels were influenced by the ecclesial situation that the Evangelists faced and that the Gospels were initially distributed and utilised among the Evangelist's own circle. What he does argue is that the respective Gospels were not intended exclusively for use in their own "community" and they are not simply mirrors of the disputes of a Matthean, Marcan, Lucan, and Johannine community. The Gospels were writen for as many Christians that might read them.
In reading over Martin Hengel's book on The Four Gospel and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ, I was highly amused by this quote:
"Therefore nothing has led research into the Gospels so astray as the romantic superstition involving anonymous theologially creative community collectives, which are supposed to have drafted whole writings."
In other words, the Gospels are not simply the products of hypothetical (or fictitious?) groupings known as Gospel communities.