Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Bauckham on Enlightenment influenced skepticism toward Gospel historicity
Note: In the conclusion of his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans, 2006), in which he challenges the approach of form criticism by arguing that the Gospels are based on authentic eyewitness testimony, Richard Bauckham offers the following analysis of how “Enlightenment individualism has led to postmodern skepticism”:
“However it—or the kind of extreme individualistic epistemology it embraces—can lead historians to an overly skeptical approach particularly to those sources that were intended to recount and inform events of the past, that is, testimony in this restricted sense. Particularly in Gospels scholarship there is an attitude abroad that approaches the sources with fundamental skepticism, rather than trust, and therefore requires that anything the sources claim be accepted only if historians can independently verify it…..
Young scholars, learning their historical method from Gospel scholars, often treat it as self-evident that the more skeptical they are toward their sources, the more rigorous will be their historical method. It has to be said, over and over, that historical rigor does not consist in fundamental skepticism toward historical testimony but in fundamental trust along with testing by critical questioning….” (p. 486).