Faithful witnesses

Currently I am reading Richard Bauckham’s book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses where he argued that eyewitnesses were the ones who were responsible for the Gospels and not anonymous oral tradition as propagated by the form critics. The eyewitnesses bore witness to the events that they observed from first-hand perspective. The nature of a witness does not mean that the narratives are uninterpreted events. Not at all. It must mean that the events are interpreted. In this case, the events were interpreted in the light of Christ event, particularly his death and resurrection, and the eyewitnesses were the early disciples of Jesus. And they retold their experience through such lens, collected by the Evangelists to form the Gospels.

History then becomes a witness of God’s faithfulness. And this is what John Walton was saying in his Ancient Near Eastern book that the Ancients always gave theological significance behind the events and, I believe, Barth was saying regarding the nature of Scriptures, that they bore witness from the prophets and the apostles. It’s like what we did when we shared our life stories. We tried to find God’s significance behind our life experience. Our life stories are interpreted in the light of God. That’s why our friends like to say, “I believe God is trying to teach me through this and this.” The nature of Scripture is not too dissimilar from that. They bore witness from the prophets and the apostles.

Hence the appropriate category to define the Scriptures is not whether they are inerrant or errant, but whether they are trustworthy or faithful. The inerrancy debate missed the point and introduced an alien category to the Scriptures themselves. They are true not for the sake of being true, but to be trusted. The Scriptures themselves were produced from faith.

And hence the response is faith and a faithful life to these faithful witnesses to a faithful God. The Scriptures demand our trust (and, on the other hand, our doubt) when we read them.

Finally, precisely because it is a form of witness that we would find discrepancies in our Scriptures. They resulted from different theological interpretations and experiential expressions of the authors. The Scriptures are inherently theologically interpreted.


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