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Products>Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, 2nd ed.

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, 2nd ed.

, 2017
ISBN: 9780802874313

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This critically acclaimed work argues that the four Gospels are based on the eyewitness testimony of those who personally knew Jesus. Noted New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham challenges the prevailing assumption that the stories about Jesus circulated as “anonymous community traditions,” asserting instead that they were transmitted in the names of the original eyewitnesses.

To drive home this point, Bauckham draws on internal literary evidence, the use of personal names in first-century Jewish Palestine, and recent developments in the understanding of oral tradition. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses also taps into the rich resources of modern study of memory, especially in cognitive psychology, refuting the conclusions of the form critics and calling New Testament scholarship to make a clean break with that long-dominant tradition. Finally, Bauckham challenges readers to end the classic division between the “historical Jesus” and the “Christ of faith,” proposing instead the “Jesus of testimony” as presented by the Gospels.

In this expanded second edition Bauckham has added a new preface, three substantial new chapters that respond to critics and clarify key points of his argument, and a comprehensive new bibliography.

Resource Experts
  • Argues that the Gospels were written based on eyewitness accounts rather than “tradition”
  • Discusses authorship using a historical and sensical method
  • Features a new preface, three new chapters responding to critics, and a comprehensive bibliography
  • From the Historical Jesus to the Jesus of Testimony
  • Papias on the Eyewitnesses
  • Names in the Gospel Traditions
  • Palestinian Jewish Names
  • The Twelve
  • Eyewitnesses “from the Beginning”
  • The Petrine Perspective in the Gospel of Mark
  • Anonymous Persons in Mark’s Passion Narrative
  • Papias on Mark and Matthew
  • Models of Oral Tradition
  • Transmitting the Jesus Traditions
  • Anonymous Tradition or Eyewitness Testimony?
  • Eyewitness Memory
  • The Gospel of John as Eyewitness Testimony
  • The Witness of the Beloved Disciple
  • The Witness of the Beloved Disciple
  • Polycrates and Irenaeus on John
  • The Jesus of Testimony
  • Eyewitnesses in Mark (Revisited)
  • Who Was the Beloved Disciple? (Continued)
  • The End of Form Criticism (Confirmed)

Top Highlights

“If, as I shall argue in this book, the period between the ‘historical’ Jesus and the Gospels was actually spanned, not by anonymous community transmission, but by the continuing presence and testimony of the eyewitnesses, who remained the authoritative sources of their traditions until their deaths, then the usual ways of thinking of oral tradition are not appropriate at all. Gospel traditions did not, for the most part, circulate anonymously but in the name of the eyewitnesses to whom they were due. Throughout the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, Christians remained interested in and aware of the ways the eyewitnesses themselves told their stories. So, in imagining how the traditions reached the Gospel writers, not oral tradition but eyewitness testimony should be our principal model.” (Page 8)

“In general, I shall be arguing in this book 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 the 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 in more or less direct contact with eyewitnesses, not removed from them by a long process of anonymous transmission of the traditions. In the case of one of the Gospels, that of John, I conclude, very unfashionably, that an eyewitness wrote it.” (Page 6)

Fascinating! . . . This book ought to be read by all theologians and historians working in the field of early Christianity. Further, Bauckham's convincing historical method and broad learning will also help pastors and students to overcome widespread modern Jesus fantasies.

—Martin Hengel, former emeritus professor of New Testament, University of Tübingen

The question of whether the Gospels are based on eyewitness accounts has long been controversial. Richard Bauckham, in a characteristic tour de force, draws on his unparalleled knowledge of the world of the first Christians to argue not only that the Gospels do indeed contain eyewitness testimony but that their first readers would certainly have recognized them as such. This book is a remarkable piece of detective work, resulting in a fresh and vivid approach to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of well-known problems and passages.

—N.T. Wright, professor of New Testament and early Christianity, St. Andrews University

Bauckham’s careful and eloquent presentation of his argument, supported not just by careful scholarship but by admirable common sense, deserves earnest consideration by all.

Times Literary Supplement

It will be hard to take seriously future works on the origin of the Gospels that have not interacted with Bauckham. . . . Recommended.


Richard Bauckham

Richard Bauckham (1946– ) was professor of New Testament studies at St Mary's College, University of St Andrews. He retired in 2007 from this position in order to concentrate on research and writing. He currently is the senior scholar at Ridley Hall in Cambridge and visiting professor at St. Mellitus College.

Bauckham earned a PhD at the University of Cambridge and was a fellow of St John's College. He taught theology for one year at the University of Leeds and for 15 years at the University of Manchester before teaching at the University of St Andrews. He is a fellow of the British Academy and a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Bauckham is known for his commentary on Jude and 2 Peter in the Word Biblical Commentary and his book Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church.


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  1. Zisong Wang

    Zisong Wang


    Best one on this topic.
  2. Richard



  3. Barnabas



  4. Andrew



Save 25% off during the Memorial Day Sale!


Digital list price: $41.99
Regular price: $33.99
Save $8.50 (25%)