Biblical Archaeology and Jesus—The Abbreviated Versions

Richard Bauckham and Eric Cline briefly introduce Biblical history

Read the full original review by Leonard Greenspoon as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , March/April 2012

biblical-archaeology-jesus-introductions

Biblical history has been reduced to a manageable size with Oxford’s new “very short introductions” to Jesus and Biblical archaeology, authored by Richard Bauckham and Eric Cline, respectively.

 

The Web site of Oxford University Press claims that their series of “very short introductions” will eventually “encompass every major academic discipline.” Eric Cline and Richard Bauckham join this effort with recent editions on Biblical archaeology and Jesus, respectively. Biblical scholar and regular Biblical Archaeology Review contributor Leonard Greenspoon reviewed these editions to show that their similarities are limited to their brevity and relevance to 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.

Read the full original review by Leonard Greenspoon as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , March/April 2012


 

Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction

Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction

By Eric H. Cline

New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009
168 pp., $11.95

Jesus: A Very Short Introduction

Jesus: A Very Short Introduction

By Richard Bauckham

New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011, 144 pp., $11.95

Read the full original review by Leonard Greenspoon as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review , March/April 2012

Posted in Daily, People & Cultures in the Bible.

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