Subject Area



Today, moderns, as well as biblical scholars, have a hard time accepting the possibility that the Gospels are authentic. The idea that a document composed two thousand years ago could be trusted is dismissed as absurd. However, this assumes that there is no evidence suggesting the contrary. Richard Bauckham, in his book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, rejects this “gratuitous doubt” and provides a novel contribution to our knowledge of the historical Jesus. This book has awakened scholars to the possibility that the skepticism of form criticism is not only uncritical but also unwarranted. Contra to popular opinion in the field of New Testament scholarship, Bauckham argues that before the Gospels were written, the Jesus tradition was intimately connected to specific eyewitnesses and teachers who functioned as guarantors of the Word. More specifically, he rejects the form critics’ claim that the Gospels were subject to the creative collective of early Church communities and presents compelling evidence illustrating that these traditions were actually transmitted in a formally controlled manner. While opponents of Bauckham’s thesis claim that his work tries to prove too much, I think the author fails to go far enough in his analysis of the data collected. In this essay, I will present a summary of Bauckham’s strongest arguments for the authenticity of the Gospels and evaluate the counter arguments presented by his critics. Furthermore, in an attempt to strengthen the author’s thesis, I will argue that the Gospel of Mark actually reflects the way in which the human brain encodes memories with high fidelity, thereby demonstrating the faithful transmittance employed in the communication of the Jesus tradition.


Providence College