Monday, 10 October 2011

Easter stories simply invented? Richard Bauckham in his new book on Jesus

As I'm working on the resurrection for my PhD, when I get a new book I always read the section(s) on the resurrection first. Thanks to my friend Lee Gratiss here in Cambridge, I just got a copy of Richard Bauckham's new book: Jesus: A Very Short Introduction published by Oxford University Press (2011). (I'm working on a review of it for Churchman).

I like the way Bauckham describes the significance of the women at Jesus' tomb:

"The somewhat varying versions of the same story in all three of the other Gospels probably vary because they go back to different members of the group of women, who remembered somewhat differently, as people do. But they were eyewitnesses! As almost every scholar notes, in that society women were not trusted to give evidence ... If Jesus had risen from death, the men ought to have been the first to know ... All this suggests that the stories were not simply invented" (105-6).

And also what the first disciples saw and experienced:

“... it is very clear that they did not think that what people saw was the spirit of Jesus, surviving his physical death. They knew about ghosts and about dead people appearing in visions. If this had been the case with Jesus, it would have been very much less momentous than the ‘resurrection’ they believed had happened. The reports about the empty tomb fitted harmoniously with the appearance narratives, because the one who appeared was identified as Jesus in his whole bodily-spiritual identity. Jesus was not a soul who had left his body behind in the tomb ... They believed he was raised to a new sort of bodily life, eternal life” (106-7).

And also, this bit in Chapter 8, Jesus in Christian faith:

"That the faith of the early Christians focused on the living Jesus does not, of course, mean that they neglected the story of his life and death or the sayings that his disciples had learned. On the contrary, the stories and sayings were treasured and repeated, and only because they were so important at an early stage were they later given permanent written
form in the Gospels. The stories portrayed the person who, in his heavenly glory, remained the same person ... The early Christians did not dissolve the past Jesus into the present, but they remembered the earthly and crucified Jesus in order to know and to follow the living Christ" (112-3).

Personally (and not giving away anything of my forthcoming review), I think this book will provide pastors and normal uninformed believers with a short and well written introduction into the latest research on Jesus, written by one of the most respected Biblical Scholars in Britain and North America.

1 comment:

francois mulder said...

Prof Jan het Bauckham se boek oor Openbaring vir ons destyds voorgeskryf. SKITTEREND!