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“Of course, the writing of a Gospel was significantly an interpretative act in a variety of ways (the selection and arrangement of testimony in a unified narrative are themselves interpretative and were entirely unavoidable in the writing of a Gospel). But the interpretative act of writing a Gospel intended continuity with the testimony of the eyewitness who, of course, had already interpreted, who could not but have combined in their accounts the empirically observable with the percieved significance of the events. They were not just reminiscing but telling stories of significance. The Jesus the Gospels portray is Jesus as these eyewitnesses portrayed him, the Jesus of testimony.” Richard Bauckham, pg. 472, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as eyewitness testimony

I was taken into and back by Bauckham’s brevity and imagination here. What are the gospels, are they history, theology, or literature? Well they’re all of these, but they’re really more than our conventional ideas of what these areas look like today. Their historiography, theological content and form, and literary shape are ancient. For instance the Gospels are historical accounts, but their history as Bauckham’s points out is an ‘interpretative history’. Their history is embedded in a process of interpretation from the eyewitnesses that stand behind many of our Gospel writers compositional research (Luke 1:1-4), to the interpretative process the gospel writer went through in his choice of excluding or including content, arrangement of his gospels’ material witness. Ultimately these ‘interpretative histories’ lead you and I into ‘interpretative living’ in light of their stories.

What do you think of Bauckham’s explanation of the Gospel’s nature?

For NT Scholar’s muse on Bauckham’s book go to Daniel Kirk’s blogsite