Richard Bauckham and Eric Cline briefly introduce Biblical history
Greenspoon praises Eric Cline for his introduction to Biblical archaeology, as it manages to cover Biblical history, the wisdom (and pitfalls) of archaeology and current debates “without leaving the reader breathless or puzzled.” The volume includes ample illustrations and a good working bibliography, along with insights on “fantastic forgeries” and other issues. While Greenspoon notes small sections that need elaboration, he generally lauds Eric Cline for his insights into Biblical archaeology within such a brief framework.
Greenspoon has considerably less praise for the “short introduction” to Jesus by Richard Bauckham. Rather than take an even approach to Biblical history and theology, Richard Bauckham gives a nuanced and opinionated presentation. The text focuses on refuting the importance of extra-canonical “gospels,” treating the canonical Gospels as history and bemoaning the centrality of form critics in modern New Testament scholarship. Greenspoon points out anachronisms and inaccuracies in the work on Jesus, and criticizes Richard Bauckham for not engaging with dissenting opinions.
Greenspoon’s review shows that there is little common ground between these introductions to Biblical history. He praises Eric Cline for fitting so much into a short volume without making a dense read, whereas the introduction by Richard Bauckham has issues with both content and consistency. Greenspoon also questions an editorial process that includes editions with such divergent presuppositions and approaches in the same series. The texts share a common miniature size and the same general topic of Biblical history, but the differences in their scholarly approach to introducing Jesus and Biblical archaeology are readily apparent, as is Greenspoon’s preference for the introduction written by Eric Cline.
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