The Unique Jesus Story – DTS Prof. Darrell Bock

Who, why, and what of the Gospels

No one Gospel comes with ‘i’, ‘x’, (noting) whoever wrote this Gospel. So we have to figure that out. We determine it either internally, based on the kinds of things that they wrote. But, that doesn’t give us an identity. That gives us more ‘the kind of person that the author was.’ You know, were they Jewish, were they gentile? That kind of thing. Did they care about Israel right within Israel, or form outside?

The identity of our authors comes through the tradition, about what’s said about authorship. And so, the debate that rotates about how accurate that tradition is. There really are 2 models:

  1. One model is: Well, they really don’t know who the author is, so it was connected to a luminary to add status to a work who is anonymous but has the theology that they want.
  2. The other model is: No, the tradition has some knowledge of who the author is and has passed it on accurately.

And I like to challenge the idea of the luminary theory. I like to use the Gospel of Mark to do this, cause it’s such a good example of my problem.

The tradition tells us very consistently that Mark and Peter worked together in the production of this Gospel. Mark was the author, but Mark was working with Peter’s teaching and so, if you do the luminary theory. The luminary theory is- you don’t know who the author is. You put in ‘X’ and it’s gonna raise the status of this work. And you have the choice between Peter and Mark. At one level, just at the surface. Just hearing, who are you gonna pick? Well, you’re gonna pick Peter. But, it’s obviously worst than that, because if you look at Mark CV, if you look at what we know about him from his life, he went home to mom on his first missionary journey, according to Acts. He didn’t make it through persecution. And, the second thing that he did is he caused a split between Barnabas and Paul on the second missionary journey. Now, those are 2 not so stellar moments. He’s not one of the greats of the early church. In terms of what he did, the thing that gives him greatness is his association with the second gospel. So, you have a choice between this Mark with his track record on the one hand, and Peter, who obviously was a luminary apostle, a key disciple of Jesus and you could put whoever you want in there because you’re free to do what you want. That’s what the model says. And (if) you wanna lift up the status of the work, who you gonna pick? You’re gonna pick Peter.

Yet, the tradition is consistent. Mark wrote the Gospel, even though he had an association with Peter. It shows you how careful the tradition is about marking the authorship and where the credit comes from. So, to me, this alternative model that the author is made up is flawed and doesn’t work. In fact, I once asked a Jesus seminar scholar in a professional meeting about this. I said, „How do you explain Mark being the author of Mark’s gospel with the luminary theory? If you pick the luminary you’ve got the option of Peter sitting there because of the tradition. How do you explain the tradition says consistently ‘it’s Mark’? He was honest. His answer was, „That’s a very good question.”

Why were the Gospels written in the first place?

The Gospels were written to pass on the testimony of the apostles about Jesus by those who walked and talked with Him. In fact, it’s interesting that Justin Martyr, in the middle of the second century, calls the Gospels ‘Apostolic Memoirs’. I think that’s a very good title. We’re so used to calling them gospels, we don’t think about what they are. And so, they actually are the memories, the recording of the memories, the impression that the apostles had as a result of their experience with Jesus.

And, it’s an attempt to keep alive that voice of the early generations, to the rest of the church, for posterity. That’s what the Gospels are. And, the reason they’re written 30 years down the road is not because you wanna let time pass so you can let the tradition develop. The reason they’re written 30 years down the road is you’re gonna lose your eye witnesses. And so, now you wanna record the testimony for posterity cause you’re losing the live  voice, which in an oral culture was very, very important. It’s like what historians are doing today with holocaust survivors. They record them. Why do they record them? Because that generation is passing away and they wanna have that record for posterity.

Are these ancient documents and gospels unique in ancient literature?

The roots for the kind of writing that it is has come out of the Roman Greco biography drama, which highlights the thinking of someone and their great actions. And, that’s exactly what you have in the Gospels. A fellow named Richard Burridge has a study called ‘What is the Gospel?’ In the midst of doing that he compared it to the literary biographies in the Greco Roman world layout with the ways the Gospels’ layout saying, „This is a very close genre comparison in terms of what we’re getting.” So, the kind of lietrature that we’re dealing with wouldn’t be a surprise to someone that had a literary background in the Greco Roman world.

What about passages where disciples were not eyewitnesses, like Jesus’s trial?

There are lots of lines of witnesses where the disciples themselves are not present. I like to say, christians don’t struggle with this question, they say, „Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus was there and He knew what was said.” But, for someone who isn’t a christian and for whom resurrection is a question, that answer doesn’t work. So, the question is, „Are there other witnesses?” And the answer is, „Absolutely.”

You’ve got Paul, the chief persecutor of the church as Jesus was dying and as he (Paul) was converted. He certainly knew what the Jewish position on Jesus was. Joseph of Arimathea, who is a member of the counsel, who supplied the burial ground for Jesus’s grave, the tomb, and he certainly knew what was going on there as a member of the council. Even more importantly, someone suggested to me during this trip, while I was in New Zealand, – these luminaries have servants and people around them at events. They might be a source of information. That’s certainly a possibility.

And then, the last option that you find interesting is that there was kind of family feud going on between the 30’s and the 60’s Between the family of Anas, the high priestly family and bishop of Judaism and Jesus’s family because Caiaphas, his son in law was priest when Jesus was crucified and helped to pursue the catching of Jesus and his giving over to Pilate. And then, Anas the second was responsible  for the death of James, Jesus’s brother in ’60. So, these families would have been debating in Jerusalem, who best represented Judaism. Jerusalem had about 25-75,000 people at this time, being a small town. So, in the midst of this public debate, the positions of these two sides would have become very evident and would have become more pronounced. So, there are actually multiple ways to witnesses, particularly for this important event of the jewish examination of Jesus that would have become public.

Darrell Bock – The Unique Jesus Story from CPX on Vimeo.

Related articles

Who is this Jesus ?

http://www.gbcdecatur.org (Powerpoint Sermons)

An excellent documentary that uses both conservative and liberal scholars to show why we can have faith in what the Bible teaches us about Jesus Christ. It presents scholars on both sides of the equation, including skeptic Helmut Koester of Harvard Divinity School, Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine of Vanderbilt, anti-fundamentalist John Dominick Crossan, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, conservative scholar Bruce Metzger of Princeton Theological Seminary, and conservative history professors Edwin Yamauchi of Miami University in Ohio and Paul Maier of Western Michigan University.

Ultimately, „Who is this Jesus?” comes down clearly on the side of traditional orthodox Christian theology, but it does so after examining the evidence. It even fairly points out the context for the liberal points of view, such as the deconstructionist bias of the Jesus Seminar.

The program is carefully made, using Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine to lambaste the Jesus Seminar for being anti-Semitic since the Jesus Seminar is in the tradition of German higher criticism, whose sole purpose was to purge Judaism from Christianity, which, by the way, is rather hard to do since Jesus was Jewish.

The program also looks at the Bible as a reliable historical text compared to other texts of antiquity. It also revisits sites in the Holy Land where scholars think Jesus walked and taught, and was crucified, according to the Bible and according to ancient Roman and Jewish historians. Viewers see the most ancient texts of the Bible and examine the discussions of their authenticity. Finally, the program examines the evidence for the physical resurrection of Jesus, the foundation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

„Who is this Jesus?” was produced by Coral Ridge Media. Uploaded by on Oct 29, 2011

William Lane Craig on the Historical Jesus (Christian Apologetics for my atheist friends)

Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic

Image by jakebouma via Flickr

-As the recounting of Jesus’ birth takes place in many Christian homes I would like to offer this video as the rational reason why Christians believe in Christ. However, many Christians will tell you that their encounter with Christ on the day or week when they first realized that they are in need of a Savior and redemption from their unregenerate lifestyle, as good as we thought we were God opened up our eyes to understand that no matter how good we think we are, we truly are not for our hearts are desperately wicked and only through the power of Christ’s redemption can we hope to live a grace filled life to the glory of God.

But, I am very well aware that for someone who has not seen this redemptive change in their own personal life, they are in need of a more rational explanation as to why a Christian would believe in a historical Jesus who was born of a virgin, lived and taught and died and was risen from the dead and is the Savior of the world who reconciles us to God. This is a pretty long interview, but well worth listening to. You have nothing to lose by inquiring into the man called Jesus, but everything to gain if He opens up your eyes and gives you the gift of faith in order to be able to believe in Him. May he open up your eyes and your heart that you may feel His presence in your life this Christmas!

– An Interview done in 2001 as a response to ABC Anchor Peter Jennings’ special ‘The search of for Jesus’.

Uploaded by on Dec 13, 2011 http://reasonablefaith.org – John Ankerberg Show (2001) – John Ankerberg interviews philosopher, theologian, and historian Dr. William Lane Craig on the historical Jesus of Nazareth. This interview was a response to ABC’s Peter Jennings’ 2001 episode „The Search for Jesus.” (112 minutes) Originally from www.jashow.org

You can read many more articles and view videos and debates on my APOLOGETICS PAGE here.  Also read this interesting post about Philosopher Alvin Plantinga, who claims that Western science would not have happened without Christianity

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William Lane Craig on the Historical Jesus – In…, posted with vodpod

The Attack on Jesus

We have in society today, a generation that desperately does not want to believe in the historical Jesus. Coral Ridge Ministries presents- The Attack on Jesus-an intriguing look at some false claims about Jesus that threatens to keep millions from finding out the truth. Christians need to be aware of the public discussions about Jesus. Anything that points people away from Jesus Christ contributes to people some day being eternally separated from God. From time to time these unfounded accusations are recycled, as is the case with author Dan Brown. Here are the issues (some of these major assaults on Jesus) addressed in this video:

  1. The reliability of the Gospels
  2. The New Testament Canon
  3. The Resurrection of Jesus
  4. Jesus’ diety
  5. and the question – Was Jesus married?
  6. Is Jesus the only way to God?

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The Attack on Jesus , posted with vodpod

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