Two debates on Christianity and history featuring Richard Bauckham

A leading New Testament scholar from Cambridge, Dr. Richard Bauckham, was recently on the radio program ‘Unbelievable?’ which is on the Premier Christian Radio network.

Debate 1: The reliability of the gospels

Bauckham was arguing that the Gospels are based on eyewitness accounts and therefore should be regarded as fundamentally trustworthy.

Joining him was New Testament historian Dr. James Crossley, discussing the implications of Bauckham’s work and whether the Gospel of John was written by the disciple John himself, as Bauckham claims.

It is well worth the listen.

Part 1 – (1 hr 20 mins)
Part 2 – (1 hr 20 mins)

This is a great debate between two great New Testament scholars.

Debate 2: The divinity of Jesus

The second debate concerns whether the belief in Jesus’ divinity was early and authentic, or whether it developed slowly over time. Richard is very thorough and works only with minimal facts that skeptical scholars will agree with. James Crossley is an excellent atheist and argues his side as well as any atheist I have ever heard in a debate on historical questions.

Here is the MP3 file. (Just over an hour)

Below there are speaker bios.

Richard Bauckham

You can find out more about Bauckham in this Christianity Today profile.


The author of CT’s 2007 Book Award winner in biblical studies, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckham proposes a new (or, rather, an ancient) paradigm through which to view the Gospels: as the eyewitness testimony of trustworthy insiders. Wheaton professor Gary Burge asked the St. Andrews scholar how his approach diverges from mainstream New Testament scholarship—and what it means for our understanding of Jesus.

I’m really excited by the respect he is getting in the academy. This is a completely NEW perspective on the gospels that is getting a lot of attention.

James Crossley

Crossley specializes in Mark, the earliest and most reliable gospel. Mark’s source for the Passion narrative of Jesus is dated to the 40s, about 10-20 years after the death of Jesus. Mark’s gospel is based on the eyewitness testimony of his companion Peter. So it is fun to hear them debate Mark in the first show. And they get into 1 Corinthians 15 as well, which is dated to 1-3 years after Jesus died.

Crossley debated against William Lane Craig before here and he debated against Michael Bird as well (part 1, part 2).

6 thoughts on “Two debates on Christianity and history featuring Richard Bauckham”

  1. Does Bauckham argue the Gospel of John was written by John, the son of Zebedee? In Eyewitness he argued (to stay consistent with his method of inclusio if I recall correctly) it was written by another disciple named John, but not THE disciple named John.



    1. He argues for John the disciple. I know you have a good case against John the disciple being the author and that it is a contested issue. But give Bauckham a listen.


  2. I’ve had a chance to listen to the first mp3. As suspected—there is some slight confusion. Dr. Bauckham argues (quite extensively) in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses the author of John’s Gospel is “the Beloved disciple” but this is not the Disciple John—son of Zebedee. That it is the Elder John. See this brief review (sorry the print is so small) pointing out the same.

    In this discussion, Dr. Bauckham again refers to the anonymity of the John’s author.

    Where the confusion comes in is when the moderator–Justin Brierly—stated Bauckham claims John was written by “the Apostle John.” Dr. Bauckham does not.

    Normally I would excuse this for the moderator not having a chance to read the book, but curiously Brierly intones later he HAS read the book. Not sure how anyone could read it and come away with the conclusion Dr. Bauckham claims the Disciple John (son of Zebedee) was the author of John’s Gospel.


    1. Hey DagoodS,

      No Justin and I are right… Bauckham really means John the beloved Disciple.

      “(4A) RB: I think the Beloved Disciple, the author of the Gospel, was the man Papias called John the Elder, who had been a personal disciple of Jesus (the older tradition of attributing the Gospel to John the Elder did not reckon with this) and one of the last of such disciples to survive. I take the view that he was a Jerusalem resident who, although committed to Jesus from early on, probably did not travel with Jesus like the Twelve. But he would of course have been close to disciples who were eyewitnesses of events he did not himself witness. The named disciples who are prominent in John are largely different from the named disciples who are prominent in the Synoptics, and I take this to indicate that the circle(s) of disciples in which the Beloved Disciple moved were different from those from which most of the Synoptic traditions derive. This (along with the fact that I think John expected most of his readers to know Mark and so did not repeat Mark without specific reasons for doing so) accounts for the different narrative material in John. As for the discourses and dialogues of Jesus, I think John adopted a different approach to representing the teaching of Jesus in a narrative. He includes traditional sayings of Jesus but expands on them in extensive, reflective interpretation. The much greater interpretative element in John is actually quite coherent with my claim that this is the only Gospel to have been actually written by an eyewitness. Precisely because he had been close to Jesus he felt qualified to interpret Jesus.”


      Tis is just the first web search I did. And this was in the interview as well.

      And just look at his 2007 book:
      Richard Bauckham. “The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John”. Baker Academic, 2007.


  3. Err…Wintery Knight,

    “John the Elder” is NOT John, son of Zebedee, right? “A disciple from Jerusalem” is NOT “the Disciple from Galilee,” correct?

    Do you hold that John, son of Zebedee was one of “the Twelve”? Notice the statement within the quote you provided which accents the DIFFERENCE between the author and John, son of Zebedee: “I take the view that he [the author] was a Jerusalem resident who, although committed to Jesus from early on, probably did not travel with Jesus like the Twelve.“ [emphasis added]

    I quite agree Bauckham argues the author is a disciple named John, who (Bauckham argues) self-identifies as “the Beloved Disciple” within the Gospel. What I do not think Bauckham argues (indeed he argues quite the opposite) is that the author is “THE Disciple” John, as in John, son of Zebedee, one of the twelve.

    Whether this author was an apostle is unknown, as we have no information about him.

    Out of curiosity, have you read “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses?” Has some good instructional information. I liked it, but then I would be a bit bias toward this sort of thing. *wink*


  4. Imho attempts to present Christ to the carnal/worldy mind is a HUGE waste of time but is necessary.

    Please allow me to explain.

    To the Jew it is a abomination and to the Gentile it is foolishness. God uses the foolishness to get His message across- ie stoning/killing martyrs(btw which means WITNESS to point of death) die bravely and treat their accusers with forgiveness and offer prayers for their actions (Stephen)? This type of behavior is not common when you and your family is being slaughtered for believing in Christ. This is the power of Christ being revealed and bearing a “true witness” and is in irrefutable. In review of the Scriptures – how many come to be Christians due to the imprisonment of the disciple ? Quite a few !!!

    The apostle Paul tried his hand at apologetics ran into this in the book of Acts when he presented his argument to the gentiles. Afterwards he preached Christ / Cross / Crucifixion of Christ.

    With that being said – the power of God that is needed to defend and present Christ is only effective when the body is willing to deny oneself and lead a holy life in ACTION to the point of death (ie dont live, act, talk, like a worldly person. The world needs to see actual good works/Christ like behavior.

    It doesnt take a lot of people. In fact, God will single out a individual to reveal Himself to and “kill” that person and from their “witness” – effect and touch others( this is quite evident throughout the scriptures).

    A real Christian apologist will lay down their life, deny themself, pick up their cross, follow Christ- then the world will see “Christ” in that person (Gal 2:20 Christ lives in me).

    That will end all foolish arguments and people will come to Christ (correct position) vs Christians preaching a half baked gospel for the sake of church administration.

    In the meantime, the decline of morality will bring forth effective apologists and a separation in the churches(real disciples vs. church goers) in conjunction with separation from the moral decay / filth of society (like the Christians in Rome who lived in catacombs).


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