Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chris Tilling Comments On Richard Bauckham's Upcoming Book

The release of Richard Bauckham's book on eyewitness testimony in the gospels has been delayed until later this year. But Chris Tilling has an electronic copy of the book, and he's been posting about its content since last week. Steven Carr is already criticizing Bauckham's case based on an article Bauckham published a few years ago. To see Chris Tilling and a few other people attempt to reason with Carr, see here.


  1. Chris Tilling has also linked to an Eerdmans page that has endorsements for the book by N.T. Wright, Graham Stanton, James D.G. Dunn, and Martin Hengel:

    Also, Tilling's interview with Bauckham can be read at:

  2. There is no reasoning with Carr.

  3. Bauckham says ' It also highlights the apostle Matthew by adding the description ‘taxcollector’ to his name in the list and by transferring to Matthew the story of the call of a taxcollector that Mark tells of Levi. '

    If the Gospellers felt free to transfer a story about one person to another person, ie lie about who the story was about, then why does Bauckham say it was all done with 'scrupulous care'

  4. Steven Carr,

    I'm not Richard Bauckham, and I don't have his book. Chris Tilling has an electronic copy of it, and he's told you that he'll be posting more about it in the future, including some material that's relevant to the objections you've raised. I doubt that Bauckham reads this blog, and nobody here is claiming to have the book, so why would you repost your question here? The book is supposed to be around 500 pages long, and it's written by a well qualified scholar. I'm sure it will have a lot of supporting arguments, qualifications, and documentation that you wouldn't know about from reading Chris Tilling's blog or an article Bauckham wrote a few years ago. If he's wrong on the issue you've asked about, then we can evaluate his case accordingly. I've already said, in a thread earlier this year that you responded to, that I disagree with some elements of what he wrote in that article from 2003. But I don't know much about his treatment of the issue you've asked about. Neither do you.

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  6. I haven't read the book either, but let us assume that Bauckham is not blowing smoke.

    Let us assume that he can back up his claim that the story about Levi was transferred to a different person.

    How then can he also claim that this was all done with 'scruplous care'?

    Of course, perhaps he has no evidence for the story being transferred from one person to another. Perhaps he is blowing smoke.

    Just as he had not the slightest shred of evidence of his claim that Mark could expect his readers to know of Bartimaeus as a 'living miracle', or that Bartimaeus died in between Mark and Matthew writing.

  7. Steven Carr said:

    "How then can he also claim that this was all done with 'scruplous care'?"

    Why do you keep asking the question when you know that you and the people you're asking don't have the book yet? I doubt that Bauckham argues that the author of the gospel of Matthew was "lying", as you put it earlier. Maybe he thinks that it was a literary device that the gospel's readers were expected to recognize. Maybe he offers some other explanation. We don't know.

    Your question about Bartimaeus, which you keep repeating, has already been addressed at Chris Tilling's blog. Scholars, as well as people who think about these issues in general, frequently suggest possible scenarios in order to explain the data we have, even if those possible scenarios can't be verified in isolation. They might make sense in light of other factors. They might add a small amount of weight to a case that mostly derives its credibility from something else. Scholars do this frequently. I doubt that you criticize scholars arguing for positions you agree with in the manner in which you're criticizing Bauckham. As Chris Tilling explained to you:

    "You are getting muddled between what Bauckham considers corroborative evidence, and the scholarly attempt to understand all the evidence in light of a particular scheme – something we all must do. In other words, this argument is a consequence of the position the main strands of evidence lead. In chapter 3 of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Bauckham makes clear that his argument that the name Bartimaeus is dropped by Matthew and Luke is simply an inference from the wider argument. Hence he uses the word ‘presumably’. His argument at this point is entirely plausible actually. It is not about ‘pulling stuff out of thin air’, as you claim. You need to respect a scholar if you can truly engage with them, to listen first." (

  8. Apparently, Carr's position is that you can never quote an author unless you agree with him 100% of the time.

    I wonder if he applies that same reasoning to secular writers.

    I'd add that Jason doesn't generally cite writers as an appeal to authority, but for their arguments. There's nothing arbitrary about sifting through a writer's arguments and finding some to be better argued than others.

  9. Steven said, "I haven't read the book either, but let us assume that Bauckham is not blowing smoke."

    You aren't assuming anything of the kind! Your hermeneutic is one of the highest suspicion. By the way, Bauckham does read my blog, and he suggested to me that you would do well to read the book, and not just my summaries, before you try going too far with that hermeneutic.