Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gospels as Histories, iTunes U. Part Four

After listening to the final lecture, I was left with the same puzzlements carried throughout the first three—what exactly is the point here, and what method are we using? However, after reflection I may have stumbled on a possible solution. (How’s that for being definitive? *grin*)

Dr. Bauckham focused the final lecture on current trends in historiography, indicating the current emphasis is on “micro-history.” The history of minor persons. The life of a baker in the 16th century sort of thing. Rather than focus on the elite, or focus on monumental characters such as military, political or social leaders and the masses’ reactions to them—the concept to see what the “common person” experience was during the time in question.

An example he utilized was the Syro-Phonecian woman in Mark 7:24-30. Although (again) the methodology was muddled in that the story was about her interaction with the Messiah, son of God, Savior of the World. She enters, performs her small part, and then exits. Not exactly sure how that was her “micro-history.”

Dr. Bauckham also mentioned the numerous pericopes, each giving their own little “micro-history” if you will.

I found the fourth lecture dry, and uninformative.

It struck me…eventually…what he may have been doing.

It would seem he was going through current trends in historiography—“history from below” and “micro-history”—and determining how the Gospels would fit within such determinations. Odd considering he started off with a qualifier regarding the use of modern techniques on ancient works, and the first lecture attempting to pigeon-hole the Gospels in ancient genres.

I find this of questionable significance. Much like my arguing the Gospels should be in the “800’s” for literature under the Dewey Decimal Classification rather than the “200’s” for religion. Or the “900’s” for history. Do you see how meaningless that is? The Gospels are what the Gospels are—the fact we have subsequently developed a library system so one can find books does NOT mean the books MUST fit the category. Placing the Bible in the Fiction section of your local bookstore does not make it fiction.

In the same way, utilizing current historical methods does not make the Bible “history from below” or “micro-history.”

The titles of this lecture looked interesting. In the end, the lectures themselves failed to deliver, in my opinion.


  1. Thanks for all your effort on this series of lectures. I think you did find a good contender for his main thesis. I was disappointed that the lectures failed to discuss the importance of his conclusions. I feel, like you mentioned with your Dewey Decimal system analogy, that where to shelve the gospels, whether in bios or microhistory or whatever makes little difference. That is what I was hoping he would address. Now, certainly there are clear implications for your religious beliefs if you believe the gospels most appropriately belong in the fiction section.

  2. Yesterday I read your latest post and wanted to comment but didn't have time til later in the evening when blogger wasn't working. It still hasn't put your latest post back up so I'll comment here.

    Your postwasn't a surprise, really. You've mentioned becoming busier with life and filling in those niches quite well where once church life and church friends fit. With the half marathon coming up, you've got a sizable challenge to meet which certainly must require a great deal of focus, energy, and dedication. This new journey sounds filled with happy anticipation of time with family and friends and meeting new personal goals. I'm so very glad for you.

    I do hope your post isn't a farewell to blogging as much as a farewell to the type of blogging you might do. Like others commenting before me, I'd like to hear from you too. I've appreciated your blog because of who you are as much as for what you write. Let us know about your marathon! And you mentioned your desire for gay marriage to be legal. If that's a passion, consider writing about it. There are those, like me, who are now open to hearing about gay marriage and other topics that we would have rejected at an earlier point in our journey. It's actually a topic I've been considering on my own.

    Also, in your post you mentioned how you have been reluctant to comment on blogs of people on the verge of deconversion. I don't know whether I was one of the people you had in mind, but that does describe me. For my part, I want you to feel free to comment as you will on my blog. I appreciate that you want to respect where I'm at faith-wise, but you don't need to refrain from commenting. I hold my ideas tentatively and value different perspectives. I actually do want to be challenged when need be. I'm not clinging to Christianity with ferocity. Though I still value spirituality, I don't have much of a need for Christianity to be the answer.

    You've got a lot of knowledge and good ideas to share. Hope you'll continue to share them.