At 09:52 AM 1/16/2012, David Mealand wrote:
>...I am more passionate about trying to persuade
>NT scholars to allow the discipline to take scientific methods
>seriously, than I am about the results that come out at the end.
>We need to be much much more serious about formulating hypotheses
>to test our theories, and then rigorously finding and checking
>the evidence. ...
I agree with this sentiment. However, your (and my) efforts in this
direction are swimming against the tide of C. P. Snow's The Two
Cultures: Those educated in the humanities tradition vs. those
educated in the "sciences." My experience has been that people
educated in the humanities just don't like the words "hypothesis" or
"testing" of hypotheses or theories, etc. That is, they either just
don't like those terms anywhere, or they feel that those words just
don't apply to the humanities. There is this mis-perception that
"hypothesis" and "testing" must always involve men and women in white
lab coats working in a clean laboratory with microscopes and test
tubes, and they just don't see how their information can be reduced
to slides and test tubes. They generally don't know much about
science (and so, The Two Cultures), and don't realize how much of
science does not involve those kinds of laboratories (think of the
social sciences, geology, astronomy, etc.) They don't see the value
of stating an idea in the form of a testable hypothesis.
For example, J.D. Crossan has written about "prophecy historicized"
(e.g., Birth of Christianity, p. 521) when he discusses the
Passion-Resurrection stories, by which he explains the passion and
resurrection stories in terms of prophecies. Years ago, he did an
internet seminar with CrossTalk (XTalk) on his book. I asked him
about this idea, "prophecy historicized," saying that it sounded like
an interesting hypothesis for Biblical studies, because it seemed
like historicizing prophecy is something that might have happened
more than once..
* How does prophecy become historicized?
* When, and in what circumstances does this occur?
But he was unwilling to investigate this idea in this way. He would
only apply it to the passion-resurrection narratives. And
furthermore, when I tried to outline what was involved, I found that
he employed many different fragments of prophecy from different
places in a variety of contexts. I could see no way to generalize
this thought into a more wide-ranging theory. It seems like an ad hoc
idea, produced only to explain one literary phenomenon, and not
applicable to any other situation. I think it more likely is a case
of "history rationalized," whereby an attempt is made to explain one
incident with fragments of prophecies that had common elements. But
this makes the assumption that the incident in question actually happened.
In short, I think your issue is not simply a numerical problem, but a
philosophical one, as well.
Northern Arizona University
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