Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chapter Five: The Twelve

In Chapter Five Bauckham turns his attention to the twelve disciples of Jesus. Why should we care about the Disciples? Bauckham gives us two reasons. One is related to his contention about Oral history (see chapter two) and the other is also related to his general argument that the gospels are indeed eyewitness testimony.

His first contention is that the twelve were responsible for the general shape in which the oral history of the gospels was passed on from them and the other eyewitnesses too. They therefore get bestowed with the title of "An Authoritative Collegium" in Jerusalem during the formative years of the early church up till the writing of the gospels and the destruction of Jerusalem. Once again Bauckham engages the form critics who have proposed that the twelve are actually a later invention. This idea however has been discredited according to Bauckham, especially by the recent development (recent in historiography terms is usually floating in the 2 to 3 decades realm) of the attempts to place Jesus in a fairly Jewish context. In this Context it makes the most sense to have a following twelve disciples since that would be a part of how Jesus would communicate his idea that the Old Testament was coming to fulfillment in him. So the twelve would have been seen as the authoritative body of believers in charge of the traditions after Jesus' ascension.

Bauckham sees confirmation of this in the lists of the disciples that are contained with the gospels. In particular he looks to the book of Matthew and informs us of two different lists, one is of Jesus' descendants and the other is of the twelve. Here he quotes another scholar:

Unlike a genealogy in which the names outline a pre-history , a list of students indicates a post-history. In our gospel the genealogy in 1:2-17 shows Jesus' pre-history to lie in Israel, in Abraham's descendants, while the list of disciples in chapter 10 shows his post-history to be in the church which has Peter as its head.   -W.D. Davies & Dale C. Allison, A Critical and exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, vol.  2 p.150 

The point here is to show that the gospels themselves present the twelve as the authoritative group in the early church environment in which Matthew's Gospel was written.

However now Bauckham encounters a problem. What of the other gospels lists of the twelve? How do they remember them (especially Mark, since his is the earliest) and are they conflicting in their recollection of who the twelve were? Obviously these questions could put a large hole in Bauckhams overall thesis were he to not answer them satisfactorily.

Peter is always first and Judas Iscariot is always last, so the first part (regarding the ordering) seems to be fine. However, there is one interesting difference in the names. Mark and Matthew have a certain Thaddaeus and Luke and Acts have Judas son of James (note, not 'Iscariot'). How does he sort this out? Well thanks to the last two chapters in which he analyzed multiple different ways in which peoples names were remembered and recorded. Here he says that Thaddaeus is Judas' Greek name, in order to help distinguish him from the more well known Judas Iscariot. He then goes through all the other methods and talks about each of the disciples various names.

Finally he has a discussion of Levi and Matthew and whether or not they are the same disciple, he argues that they are not and has a small and interesting discussion of the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew.

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