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Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  915 ratings  ·  98 reviews
A groundbreaking work in New Testament studies expanded and updated

Winner of the 2007 Christianity Today Book Award in Biblical Studies, this momentous volume argues that the four Gospels are closely based on the eyewitness testimony of those who personally knew Jesus. Noted New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham challenges the prevailing assumption that the Jesus account
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Hardcover, 704 pages
Published April 28th 2017 by Eerdmans (first published December 15th 2006)
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John
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have thumbed through this book many times before, skimmed chapters, and recommended it to many people. It's about time I finally dove in and worked through this masterpiece. And it really is a masterpiece. Bauckham's book is jaw-dropping in its scope and the force of the argument Bauckham puts forward.

Bauckham's thesis is fairly simple: the four gospels represent a compilation of eyewitness testimony of the life of Jesus of Nazareth and as such need to be taken seriously as we consider the Jes
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Jeff Miller
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book likely I would never had come in contact with if not given as a Christmas gift.

In the last hundred years and more there has been multiple attacks on the reliability of the New Testament. Much of this has come from trying to apply new scholarly critical methods and some from skeptics simply trying to undermine the texts. There are also many common sense approaches that seem to bear out reasons to be distrustful. Some of these approaches became very useful in approaching these texts
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Gregory
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nt-studies
This was an amazing book--amazing in Bauckham's detective work, and amazing in his careful academic spade-work. Because Bauckham is challenging the reigning paradigms of form criticism, he has to build his case step by step, which made for tedious reading at times. But, if you are willing to tough it out, the overall argument is thrilling and makes a credible case for reading the Gospels for what they are--reliable eyewitness testimony. ...more
Joseph Sverker
I will never read the Gospels in the same way again after reading this book. Bauckham argues, with the help of Samuel Byrskog, convincingly for the Gospels as eyewitness testimonies. He does so with brilliant scholarship and convincing references to contemporary historiographical views. I also like his dialogue with Ricoeur and the underlying philosophical voice. The book also completely debunks the form criticism project and I cannot understand how anyone will be able to argue with an "Sitz in ...more
Geoff
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this during a recent holiday and I think I needed to be on holidays to get through it quickly enough to appreciate the whole complex argument. Bauckham put together a serious case in favour of reading the gospels as eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus. Utlising Papias' testimony, insights from the gospels and similar literature, and historical background, he turns the intellectual assumptions of form criticism, etc. on their head.

A couple of points of stood out for me:
1) It makes a l
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Frans Vermeiren
Great hypothesis, even greater drawbacks

With its more than 500 pages this book is an example of thorough biblical scholarship. Bauckham extensively elaborates his hypothesis that the Gospels are much more based on eyewitness testimony than is generally accepted, and I think this conclusion is right. This is an important achievement, as the Gospels have supposedly been written between 40 and 60 years after the facts. Below, however, I will try to show that the eyewitness case is much more straigh
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J. Wallace
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book that discusses the nature of the New Testament Gospels as eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus. I also discuss this topic in my book, “Cold Case Christianity” (Chapter 4: Test Your Witnesses)

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels
...more
Matthew Richey
Absolutely fascinating read. Bauckham's argument for the gospels' origins in eyewitness testimony is convincing and, simultaneously, provides fascinating insight into the world of first-century historiography. Highly recommended to anyone interested in New Testament studies or in first-century history. ...more
Jon
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cogently written and elegantly argued, this monograph was not only a breeze to read but a joy. I took it on because the subject seemed interesting, but I wasn't expecting to enjoy reading it so much as I did.

Bauckham essentially makes the argument that many contemporary scholars have it wrong. The Gospel accounts of Jesus's ministry are not oral traditions passed along for generations, many of them mythologized in the telling. They are actually written accounts based on eyewitness accounts of th
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James Korsmo
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is a ground-breaking study by NT scholar Richard Bauckham that questions many of the assumptions current in much New Testament scholarship today, especially about the formation of the Gospels. In this seminal book, Bauckham makes a sustained case for the involvement and centrality of eyewitnesses in the formation of the Gospels as they appear in their current, written canonical form. I won't attempt to recreate his arguments here, for they are many and detailed, but he ...more
Matt
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
If you are like me and have studied any New Testament scholarship at all, then you have probably felt the incredible frustration at how little support a scholar needs to make his or her argument. Any wild speculation is given credit so long as the scholar does not conclude that the gospels are based on any actual facts. Bauckham's defense of his thesis -- that individuals who were eyewitnesses to the life of the the historical Jesus were the authoritative sources of the text of the Gospels -- is ...more
Matthew Colvin
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bauckham argues that the canonical gospels, including and especially John, are the fruit of eyewitnesses to Jesus, not products of an imaginary communal redaction process from an oral tradition. What distinguishes the book from lesser works is Bauckham's use of scholarship from outside Biblical studies: historiography, onomastics, and philosophical epistemology all change the way Bauckham approaches questions. He uses insights from these other fields to explode hidebound and incestuous assumptio ...more
David  Graieg
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since its release in 2006, the first edition of Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses has impacted both academia and (despite its scholarly nature) our culture at large. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses was the winner of the 2007 Christianity Today Book Award in Biblical Studies and has been translated into five other languages. The second edition was released in April 2017, containing three new chapters (the original eighteen chapters remaining untouched).
The thesis of the first edition was t
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Ethan
A magisterial defense of the Gospels as eyewitness testimony.

The author takes up Samuel Byrskog's thesis regarding the Gospels as representing the "gold standard" of historiology in the Greco-Roman world: narrative based on eyewitness testimony, either directly from eyewitnesses (so John), or based on the testimony of eyewitnesses (Luke).

The author suggests a reconstruction of Papias' fragment as found in Eusebius regarding the Gospels to demonstrate his preference for eyewitness testimony, tha
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Paul
I wonder if, one day, "historical Jesus" theology will be seen as something akin to Freudianism or Neo-Kantianism, i.e., a short-lived intellectual movement that is so clearly an unconvincing fad that no serious person could possibly agree with it, but which nonetheless led to a resounding critical response -- the quality and depth of which is far out of proportion to the errors of the original position -- such that the responses end up becoming classics.

Everyone has heard of Heidegger's Being
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Bruce Mcgregor
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Non-fiction, scholarly work, but written in a readable style and very worth reading. Professor Richard Bauckham presents his arguments for why he believes the Gospels are based on eyewitness testimony not just from the authors but also from the people mentioned in the Gospels, for instance blind Bartimaeus is mentioned in the Gospel because he was handing down his testimony, he was one of the tradents. He had continued in the church after Christ had left and was telling his story. There are many ...more
David
Brilliant piece of scholarship arguing that at their essence, the gospels are based on eyewitnesses who told and retold their stories in the years following the first Easter. Bauckham argues that form criticism's explanation of the gospels has long gone the way of the dinosaurs; it does not make sense that the original Jesus events evolved anonymously like a game of Gossip until the final result bore no resemblance to the original events. Instead, the original witnesses continued to live and be ...more
Mike
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This is a great book, but so detailed I just got swamped by it in the end and couldn't finish it. ...more
Rafael Sales
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A amazing work for a great theologian and historian. Bauckham open our eyes to see the historiography in the Gospels and how the witness writing books so relevant.
Ian Hammond
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Baukham's conclusion is: "that the Gospel texts are much closer to the form in which the eyewitnesses told their stories or passed on their traditions than is commonly envisaged in current scholarship. This is what gives the Gospels their character as testimony. They embody the testimony of eyewitnesses, not of course without editing and interpretation, but in a way that is substantially faithful to how the eyewitnesses themselves told it, since the Evangelists were more or less in direct contac ...more
Scott
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first whole book of serious Gospels scholarship that I've read. Bauckham deploys textual scholarship; knowledge about the art of writing history in the ancient world; Christian writings from the New Testament and 2nd century; and studies of memory, testimony, and the transmission of oral traditions to argue for the pervasive influence of eyewitness testimony in the writing of the gospels. He posits the model of the careful guarding of traditions that were passed on to Christian comm ...more
Brian Collins
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this volume Bauckham provides a trenchant critique of form criticism and makes a strong case for the pervasive role of eyewitness testimony in the Gospels. While I was not convinced with his discussion about the authorship of John and still have questions to Bauckham's suggestion that many of the named individuals in the Gospels are the sources for those accounts, Bauckham nonetheless provides a wealth of information about oral tradition, memory in ancient times, and Jewish names, along with ...more
Diane
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thesis of this book is that the Gospels were written by people who had direct access to eyewitness testimony of the events described. The author makes a good case, and it is certainly heartening to read a work of theology that is so strongly supportive of the authenticity of the scriptures. The book is very long and dense, but it doesn't use a lot of technical terminology, so it is appropriate for the (very interested and focused) non-specialist. ...more
Joel Wentz
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gets a full 5 stars for scope, comprehensive argumentation, and likely impact on my own thought. If I could segment my rating, I would give it 1 less star for readability, as the book gets bogged down in some overly technical writing about the function of memory, transmission, and some minutiae arguments that are clearly intended to ward off some expected counter-arguments. But the overall impact of this book is such that I can't give it less than the best rating.

Bauckham's thesis is that t
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Barrett Martin
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strong argument the New Testament Gospels were written using eyewitness testimony as their main sources. Many critics of Christianity and the reliability of the New Testament promote the idea the Gospels were written by people far removed from Jesus using stories which may have started out accurate, but, as they were passed down over the years, developed into more of a legend than reliable history.

Bauckham argues the Gospels are carefully written testimony and give evidence of eyewitnesses in
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Beth Tovar
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won't go into a lot of details here. I never do, because you can see from all the four and five star reviews that this is a fascinating book.

It was recommended to me by my favorite professor my first semester in college and I have just now had time to read it. It is a scholarly work, but not overly so. Anyone with interest can follow it. I read it with a dictionary and a Bible at hand. A working knowledge of how Greek verbs work and a familiarity with ancient writers such as Eusebius and Irene
...more
Todd Stockslager
Review Title: Too deep for its own good

What sounds by the title like it might be an inspirational study guide turns out to be a deep study by Bauckham of theories about who wrote the Gospels and the source of their material--too deep for the average non theologian. While I found some of his arguments worthy and well proven, there are too many trails deep into arcane third and fourth level subarguments referencing obscure and speculative quotations. I have to confess to losing both the ability an
...more
Frank Peters
This was a very interesting book, with too much filler material. Had the book been one third of the length it would have been brilliant. As it is, there are many, many sections that are hard to get through, and I kept wondering why they were included. I expect that the answer would be that the author wanted to ensure that his arguments were given the strongest treatment possible. But this, unfortunately meant that I felt like I was getting hit over the head with a hammer through repetition. On t ...more
Caleb Davis
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a scholarly, thorough tome, but well worth the read. I’m amazed at how exhaustive the research was that went into it. The author presents arguments that the four canonical Gospels are based on testimony from specific individuals who were eyewitnesses of Jesus rather than anonymous oral traditions. Surprisingly, the greatest evidence for an eyewitness account is for the Gospel of John! The theme of testimony definitely shines though that gospel, and it’s changed the way I read it.

Evidence
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Brandon
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This really is a must read for anyone who wishes to have much deeper understanding of how close the gospels are to the eyewitness stories and traditions that formed them.
Bauckham leaves no stone left unturned in his effort show the close proximity between our written gospels and the eyewitnesses that produced them.
This is first rate scholarship that is written in a manner that is clear and easy to digest.
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Richard Bauckham (PhD, University of Cambridge) is senior scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge University, in Cambridge, England, where he teaches for the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges. He is also a visiting professor at St. Mellitus College, London, and emeritus professor of New Testament at the University of St. Andrews. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the author of numerou ...more

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