Friday, November 21, 2014

Richard Bauckham, Assessing the Lost Gospel

I am delighted to be able to post here a piece by Richard Bauckham assessing the new book by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson, The Lost Gospel:

Assessing The Lost Gospel
Part 1: The Chronicle of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor – Content and Context

by Richard Bauckham

The above is a link to a PDF of the article.  A Word version is also available.

16 comments:

sourcecritic said...

One thing Wilson and Jacobovici argue is that when Joseph in the 'Joseph and Aseneth' manuscript is identified as 'The Son of God,' this must mean that he is Jesus because "in a Jewish context, he would never have been described as 'God's son' (The Lost Gospel, Jacobovici and Wilson, 12)."

But this way of identifying Joseph as 'The Son of God' might just be a way of saying he is kingly in nature, because the king of Israel was sometimes identified as the 'Son of God (On this, see Bart Ehrman, How Jesus Became God, 76-77).'

Understanding the King of Israel as the "son of God," we read in the Hebrew bible, for instance:

(1) "I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me (2 Sam. 7:12-14)."

(2) In Psalm 89, in which the psalmist indicates that David was anointed by God (that is, literally anointed with oil as a sign of God's special favor; v. 20), he is said to be God's "firstborn, the highest of the kings of earth (v.27)."

(3)God says to the king: "You are my son; today I have begotten you (Psalm 2, v. 7)

So, I don't think that Joseph being identified as the "Son of God" in the 'Joseph and Aseneth' manuscript necessarily means Joseph is being identified with Jesus.

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

Now, now. Don't confuse a good story with facts.

Richard Bauckham said...

Most scholars who have written about Joseph and Aseneth (and think it is a Jewish work) would agree with you. I'm not so sure. Joseph is three times called 'the firstborn son of God' - which says rather more than just 'son of God.' I'm inclined to think there is a Christian typological or symbolic dimension to the story (Joseph is a type of Christ, Aseneth a type of the church), though this doesn't mean the whole story is allegorical or 'coded history,' and it certainly doesn't warrant any connexion with Mary Magdalene.

sourcecritic said...

Hi Richard.

As I said, Psalm 89 v.27 says the king is God's "firstborn."

John Andrew MacDonald

Richard Bauckham said...

Yes, and if the work is Jewish, that must be the explanation. I would rely on a broader case for the work being Christian, and in that case it is relevant that Christians read Ps 89:27 as a prophecy of Jesus the divine Son, not as truly applicable to the human king of Israel.

Stephen Goranson said...

Thanks for this contribution, Prof. Bauckham.
At Tony Burke's blog
www.apocryphicity.ca
he commented on his role in the Lost Gospel book, mainly in translation. He also wrote that "perhaps" the Syriac ms was censored. (He compares proposed censorship in the disputed "Clement's Letter to Theodore.) In a note there, I asked whether he would care to comment (here or there) on your argument against censorship.

Richard Bauckham said...

A further point I failed to mention in the post that could be relevant to the censorship issue is that several later pages of the Joseph and Aseneth text (containing 13:12-16:15) are also missing. These were already missing from MS 17202 when MS 7190 was copied from it, but it may suggest that MS 17202 was not being very carefully preserved in its home in the Macarios Monastery.

Richard Bauckham said...

And just one more point on the censorship issue:
Properly to assess this the state of the whole MS (not just the three chapters about and containing Josephus and Aseneth) needs to be examined. From merely glancing at the editions and translations, one can see that there is plenty of damage and missing sections elsewhere too.

Geoff Hudson said...

Richard, I know nothing about this work, but is your reference to Josephus and Asenath a mistake?

Richard Bauckham said...

Yes, a mistake. It's Joseph and Aseneth. As it happens I was thinking about Josephus for another reason. One of those tricks the mind plays, I suppose.

James D. Tabor said...

Simcha has offered a response to Richard's Part 1 here: http://www.simchajtv.com/response-to-prof-bauckhams-critique-of-the-lost-gospel/

Richard Bauckham said...

I shall respond to Simcha's response in due course

James D. Tabor said...

Looking forward to hearing your response Richard. Simcha's response to Part II is now posted as well: http://www.simchajtv.com/response-to-prof-bauckhams-critique-of-the-lost-gospel-2/

Jo Dubai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo Dubai said...

In the preface to the Book: The Lost Gospel, the authors Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson writes:
“What the Vatican feared and Dan Brown only suspected has come true. There is written evidence that Jesus was married to Mary the Magdalene and they had children together”. Does anyone sense any difference of approach? None at all, except for the number of children (gosh!). Same argument, same narration, same thesis except for the fact that the decoding text is a different one!
There are numerous ancient writings which claim to be Gospels and mention the direct relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene without the need of any decoding. They are straight to the point and yet they failed to give me convincing proof! Here is a text which asks of me to have textual swapping and fancy speculation! This allegorical logic is clearly faulty. Using this technique one can even go on to state that Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba can be decoded as Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Outside Bible, one can even use Mark Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet as characters worthy of swapping! It is that silly…… well you know it!

I find nothing that could prove their point. Using a silly interpretive technique, these writers give us nothing but lack of evidence and wishful speculation!

Thank God there is no ancient Syriac text similar to Song of Solomon! If something similar is lying anywhere in British Library, please remove as Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson might decode and claim Solomon as Jesus and the woman as Mary Magdalene!

There is no mention of Jesus at all in this ancient text! There is no Mary either!

The text is all about Joseph and Aseneth, their engagement, marriage, sex and children! I looked for help and so came the help in the form of replacing technique! Mac has to be replaced with windows! That is the first code! Replace Joseph of the text with Jesus! It is that simple a code! So I have to replace Joseph with Jesus. Next I have to replace tower with cover! Aseneth to be replaced with Mary Magdalene! Well done I have decoded! Now I am eligible for decrypting! I could even get an offer from FBI cyber department!

What the hell! I am duped! I look for a Tony Blair in British Parliament and they give me a Bill Clinton episode!

Give us facts sir and not wishful speculation of something which is not there and not meant to be!

Brett Provance said...

I enjoyed this first installment. The section delineating the Christologies of the Monophysite and Nestorian branches of Christianity (and the note about Monophysite affirmation of the Nicene Creed) is quite informative and important for practical and scholarly reasons. Background information, of course, is vital before interpreting a text. I look forward to reading on.