Bauckham, Richard. “Chapter 5, The Twelve.” Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.” Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006, pp. 93-113.
Bauckham reiterates his view that the named people in Scripture are important, and specifically that the named eyewitnesses were particularly important as they remained credible authorities throughout their lives (Bauckham 2006, 93). This normative attitude may have been eroded, especially by the developments of higher criticism. Though Bauckham considers the dogmatic assertion that the Twelve and no others were an authoritative ruling council to be excessive, he also sees a significant role given to this body appointed by Jesus (Bauckham 2006, 94).
It is significant to Bauckham that the Twelve are listed in all three Synoptic Gospels, as well as in Acts (Bauckham 2006, 96). Despite their being listed, “no less than seven of these persons are never mentioned again or appear as individuals in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, while the same is true of six of them in Matthew” (Bauckham 2006, 96). Bauckham continues, “it could well be that the Twelve are listed as the official body of eyewitnesses who formulated and authorized the core collection of traditions in all three Synoptic Gospels. They are named, not as the authorities for this or that specific tradition, but as responsible for the overall shape of the story of Jesus and much of its content” (Bauckham 2006, 97).
There is some debate about inconsistencies in the lists. Bauckham observes that all are grouped in three sets of four, except that Acts omits Judas. All begin with Simon Peter, then have groups led by Philip and James son of Alphaeus. The order of persons within each group differs (Bauckham 2006, 97-98). The third group does present a problem in that Matthew and Mark list Thaddaeus, while Luke and Acts give us Judas, son of James (Bauckham 2006, 99). Bauckham suggests two solutions to the problem. First, Thaddaeus may have left the disciples and been replaced by James. Otherwise, Thaddaeus may have also bee ncalled James. The former is unlikely, but the latter is certainly plausible, as so many people had numerous names to use (Bauckham 2006, 99). Bauckham observes that additional epithets were frequently attached to the various apostles (Bauckham 2006, 101).
Bauckham further notes that the epithets used of the Twelve in the New Testament “seem designed . . . to distinguish members of the Twelve from each other and so must have originated within the circle of the Twelve themselves” (Bauckham 2006, 102). Since there were wo Simons, two Jameses, and two Judases, this would have been very natural. Bauckham walks us through the different types of epithets generally used of the apostles. His conclusion is that rather than showing a careless attitude, the lists make it absolutely certain to the original readers precisely which individuals are being identified (Bauckham 2006, 108). Bauckham closes the chapter with observations about “Levi son of Alphaeus” and “Matthew” (Bauckham 2006, 108ff). He considers it very unlikely that these names refer to the same person. It is very rare for an Israelite to have two common Hebrew names (Bauckham 2006, 109). Rather, one name would be Hebrew and the other Greek, or some such variant on the theme.