We have the great privilege of interviewing Richard Bauckham to talk about his book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans, 2006). First of all, can we really get to first-century events through the documents that we have?
In my book I argue that the Gospels are very close to the way the eyewitnesses of the history of Jesus told their stories and reported his sayings. One of the Gospels, John, is actually written by an eyewitness and the others are close to the eyewitness testimony. The argument of the book is that we get about as close to Jesus as we can, that we can trust the Gospels. It's an argument against the feeling around at the moment that the Gospels are not reliable. A lot of people have the idea that in order to find the historical Jesus, we have to dig behind the Gospels and rely on historians. The Gospels, however, are the best access we have to Jesus. The testimony in them comes firsthand from people who participated in the events and those deeply affected by the events. They do not give us mere facts; they give us interpretation, the significance of what they've experienced. Historians in the ancient world valued eyewitness testimony; they thought one could only write history within living memory of the events-either one had been an eyewitness or else interviewed eyewitnesses of the events. At least three of the Gospels were written around the time that the eyewitnesses must have been dying off.
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Issue: "The New Atheism" March/April 2008 Vol. 17 No. 2 Page number(s): 53-56
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