Baker Academic

Friday, February 21, 2014

Markus Bockmuehl on Watson’s Gospel Writing—Chris Keith

Thanks to Ferdie Mulder at Cambridge who alerted Facebook friends that Markus Bockmuehl's review article of Francis Watson's Gospel Writing in JTS is now available online.  For those with access, you can get it here.  Bockmuehl's review is fairly comprehensive and balanced insofar as it notes both the significant contributions of Watson in this magnum opus as well as offers some sharp criticisms.  A few of the criticisms that Bockmuehl notes also came up in last year's BNTC panel review of the book, upon which I sat with Paul Foster and Simon Gathercole.  I'm thinking particularly here of Watson's rejection of Q but affirmation of an underlying sayings collection, his portrayal of the dynamics of orality, and his argument that GJohn is dependent upon P. Egerton.  Bockmuehl's review appropriately notes, however, the absolutely breathtaking sweep of Watson's study, and why it is a must read for anyone in Gospels studies.  He ends the review with the following:

"Scholarly grands projets to topple crumbling critical edifices are bracing and fun, even if they do not always match the undeniable joy of demolition with a comparable confidence in what takes their place.  Professor Watson's remarkable attack on a historic stronghold of gospel criticism scores a number of powerful blows that demand extensive further engagement.  Yet even if the spectacle of his wrecking ball were in the end to prove more impressive than the shape of his reconstruction, this reviewer finds himself profoundly instructed and expects to assign Gospel Writing to his students for a long time to come."


  1. Chris, numerous issues raised in Bockmuehl's review came up during discussions here in Cambridge where Peter Head, Simon Gathercole, Steve Walton, and several PhD candidates have been working though Gospel Writing. In relation to Bockmuehl's discussion of Origen in his review, I make the following point: "there is no mention of Origen returning to empirical truth in combination with spiritual truth and harmonization in Cels., following his anti-harmonization paradigm implemented in Book 10 of his Comm. Jo. anywhere in Watson’s monograph. One would at least have expected a footnote about this, as Watson refers to Cels. elsewhere when it suites his argument".

  2. Any way to make the review available to us who don't have a subscription to the journal?