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Proposal Details

2008 International Meeting

Auckland, New Zealand

Meeting Begins7/6/2008
Meeting Ends7/11/2008

Call for Papers Opens: 9/1/2007
Call for Papers Closes: 2/1/2008

Requirements for Participation

Eyewitness Testimony in Psychological Research: Some Consequences for Richard Bauckham's Work
Status: Accepted
Program Unit: Psychological Hermeneutics of Biblical Themes and Texts
Name in the program book: Judy Redman
Tag - Primary: not selected
Tag - Secondary: not selected
Tag - Tertiary: not selected
Proposal Details
Date Submitted: 11/27/2007 7:31:17 PM
In his book "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" (2006), Richard Bauckham suggests that the canonical gospels contain eyewitness accounts rather than collective community traditions. He says that eyewitnesses are “active guarantors” of the traditions in whose name they were transmitted (290) and that the testimony model allows us to understand the Gospels as “the entirely appropriate means of access to the historical reality of Jesus.” (5) That is, we can know more about the historical Jesus than form criticism would have us believe. Eyewitness testimony has been a subject of interest to psychologists for well over a century. In 1979, Elizabeth Loftus summarized the major findings up to that time in her book "Eyewitness Testimony". More recent research has largely explored the issues she raised in greater depth. Eyewitness testimony can be very convincing in a court of law and yet it is not always accurate, simply because of normal memory processes. This raises the question: can Bauckham's claim be substantiated? An analysis of the psychological literature on eyewitness testimony suggests that it cannot. Although Bauckham appeals to evidence for the accuracy of oral transmission of community tradition, inaccuracies are incorporated into memory before eyewitness testimony is adopted as tradition. Bauckham's work may, however, offer a different perspective on the inconsistencies that occur between parallel passages in the Gospels. It encourages us to ask whether differences between parallel passages can be explained as variation due to the eyewitness effect, rather than redaction. The paper will provide an overview of the psychological eyewitness literature on accuracy of memory as it relates to the Gospels. It will also examine some parallel passages to determine whether variations in eyewitness memory might be a feasible alternate explanation to the notion that the variations are a result of deliberate theological choices on the part of redactors.
Other Details
Is this the first time you've proposed a paper for an SBL meeting? Yes
Is this proposal being submitted to more than one program unit? No
Are there other presenters participating with you? No
Is your paper a book review? No
Involve specific ancient artifacts? No
Scheduling Conflicts
Audio/Visual Needs
LCD (data) Projector with screen
Contact Information
Judith Redman
University of New England - NSW Australia

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