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The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences (New Testament Studies) Paperback – November 13, 1997


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Product Details

  • Series: New Testament Studies
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (November 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802844448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802844446
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Bauckham is professor emeritus of New Testament studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and senior scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. A fellow of both the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, he has also written Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World.

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Customer Reviews

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Highly recommended, along with Bauckham's many other books.
Anne Rice
For that reason, most New Testament scholars will either ignore, sniff, sneer, or simply brush aside this challenge.
Cato Sapiens
One of the best is Richard Burridge's article on the genre of the Gospels.
Steve Jackson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Cato Sapiens on April 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
This rather modest book, just 220 pages encompassing seven individual chapters by half a dozen British scholars, deftly challenges one of the central presuppositions underlying a vast mountain of New Testament scholarship for much of the past quarter century. Led by Richard Bauckham who teaches at St. Andrews in Scotland, these scholars quite literally pull the rug out from under prevailing work on the Gospels which almost universally assume that each individual Gospel was written for and intended only for an almost hermetically sealed "community" and that close reading of the texts gives us enough information to draw a fairly detailed picture of that same community. This assumption, Bauckham argues, despite the fact that it has become foundational to work in the field has really never been proven or even extensively argued as a theory with independent proof and testing. Like so many other "foundational" assumptions of recent New Testament scholarship, this structure upon which so many elaborate edifices have been attached rests not on the solid rock of historical or comparative literary evidence, but on sand.
Once Bauckham has cut through the knots of assumptions and the clumsy misuse of "social scientific" argument, an enormous stack of scholarship--commentaries, journal articles, Ph.D. theses, and monographs--suddenly seems to be standing on the shakiest of theoretical grounds.
For that reason, most New Testament scholars will either ignore, sniff, sneer, or simply brush aside this challenge. In fairness, no one who is thoroughly published on Gospel issues wants to have years or decades of their life's work challenged on foundational grounds.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Steve Jackson on September 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
As the contributors to THE GOSPELS FOR ALL CHRISTIANS point out, there is a tendency to treat the Gospels as something like Paul's epistles. Just as Paul wrote to specific churches addressing specific problems, the evangelists are widely seen as writing for specific "churches" or "communities." So interpreting a Gospel becomes like interpreting a Pauline epistle - an endless quest for determining what that writer is responding to, turning the Gospels into allegories of church life and mirrors of communities. Such interpretations have a tendency to spin out of control, as in the case of Raymond Brown's oft-cited and occasionally ridiculed COMMUNITY OF THE BELOVED DISCIPLE where he argues that the John's Gospel went through a multiple-stage editing process, each stage corresponding to a different phase in the life of the community.

One problem is there is a general lack of proof for any such theories. And why couldn't an evangelist write his gospel over several years, traveling from city to city, and interacting with various problems and eventually publishing a gospel for the larger Christian community?

Richard Bauckham's introductory essay (which inspired the collection) sets the tone for the book. He argues persuasively that the idea that the gospels were written for general circulation and not specific communities. Based on what we know about the early Christians, they were interested in presenting the gospel message to the entire world. Bauckham's conclusion is a little sweeping and ignores some of the obvious signs that the gospel writers appear to have had a certain audience in mind. The later essays are a bit more restrained, arguing that the evangelists might have had a "target audience" in addition to the broader church.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Anne Rice on November 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
As other reviews here make clear, this is a powerful book that demands a rethinking of the assumptions of some earlier scholars that the gospels were written for isolated communities. Bauckham's work calls these theories into question, and demonstrates that such theories are almost entirely speculative and do not rest on any kind of real proof. Unfortunately much of this earlier speculative scholarship has led mainstream readers to believe that the gospels are not reliable accounts of the life of Jesus and that they were indeed fakes. Bauckham urges a much more responsible approach to Gospel scholarship. Highly recommended, along with Bauckham's many other books.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Charles F. Taylor on September 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Professor Bauckham is responsible for this excellent book which undermines the current scholarly idea that the Gospels each were written for narrow, select audiences. The logic and background information team up to dispel the modern myth of isolated Gospel communities, each with its own theology. He compellingly demonstrates that the Gospels were written for all Christians (hence, the title) and for those interested in Christianity.
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A major assumption of Gospel scholarship over the last half-century is the idea that each Gospel was written for a specific Christian audience, either a church or group of churches, and especially for the "communities" in which the evangelists resided. Gospel study therefore has focused on the distinguishing characteristics of these unmentioned communities to which each of the Gospels was supposedly addressed, with the assumption that these audiences are key to understanding the Gospels. Richard Bauckham's book, The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences, is a groundbreaking collection of essays that challenges these deeply rooted assumptions.

The authors contend that the Gospel writers expected their works to circulate among the churches and therefore had no specific Christian audience in mind. Bauckham's essay leads off the book, stressing the sheer lack of evidence for the theory that the Gospels were addressed to specific Christian communities. He cites six reasons for rejecting this model, most notably that the early Christian communities were highly mobile groups that often transcended the local church, that maintained active communication networks over a broad are of the Mediterranean world, and engaged in the practice of sending letters to other churches.

The essay that makes up the second chapter highlights the importance of hospitality in the early church and the relative speed with which early Christian documents would have been circulated. The third chapter describes ancient book making and the commercial book trade. The fourth chapter describes the Gospels as biographies.
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