At 07:27 AM 5/30/2002 +0000, bjtraff wrote:
>--- In crosstalk2@y..., Bob Schacht <r_schacht@y...> wrote:
> >I think you would do well to pay attention to Steve
> >Davies' "wholescale scepticism," because he is questioning
> >assumptions you are making that you have not thought through very
>I am not certain what it is you think that I have not researched
>thoroughly, but I would say that my disagreement with wholesale
>sceptical views is something I have researched extensively. Davies
>made a wide range of assertions in his post, none of which was
>supported, and which represented a basic rejection of the idea that
>early Chrisians were at all interested in what Jesus might have said
>or done in his life. As I am not interested in rebutting assertions,
>I was not about to embark on a wild goose chase.
Please excuse my delay in responding. I wanted to respond more thoughtfully
than I had time to do during the week.
Concerning your comment above, what is often true in Steve's messages is
not his assertions but his challenges.
Do not assume that when he challenges your position that he is asserting a
different position. I hope we'll come to an example later on where I can
show you what I mean.
> >Some years back, I was in a position similar to yours with respect
> >to Davies, and I learned to examine my glib assumptions more
> >thoroughly before pronouncing them as facts.
>My assumptions are neither glib, nor unresearched ...
That may be, and if so, I apologize for my patronizing tone. What I was
referring to, for example, was your claim to have researched the matter of
Mark/Q overlaps, and yet your comments revealed that you were not aware of
the significance of the issue. I'll try to deal with that matter at greater
length in response to one of your other posts.
> ... At the same time, I do not think that debate can be engaged if it is
> to be based
>exclusively on assertion and counter assertion.
> The evidence within
>the Bible that Christians preserved sayings and acts of Jesus is far
>better than many scholars seem to grant, and I am more than happy to
>go through that evidence.
Maybe we ought to do so. I am beginning to think that your idea of what
constitutes evidence is different from mine.
> >For example, in the matter you proclaim above, what *evidence* do
> >you have that Christians *were indeed* interested in preserving
> >information about Jesus, and exactly what kinds of information does
> >your evidence indicate that they were interested in? Be careful not
> >to project your own interests in the form of assumptions about what
> >people were interested in during the First Century.
>It is not novel to propose that there are earlier sources contained
>within the Pauline Corpus, as well as within the Gospels.
No, it is not novel. But just because it is not novel does not mean that it
is right, or that such proposals constitute evidence.
> I do not think that it is possible to document all of this evidence in a
>single post, while at the same time, the assertion that there is no
>evidence of early sources within those documents is a rather
>astonishing claim. ...
Of course "earlier sources" have been claimed. But to assert such claims
does not constitute evidence. Even Q, the best example of such an earlier
source, is only an hypothesis, and one which I am beginning to think must
be wrong. We need to get down to cases about those early sources and the
evidence for their existence. I happen to think, BTW, that there *were*
early sources. But I just can't prove it.
> >You also glibly use the label "Christians" even though that label
> >for the followers of Jesus, in the First Century, was probably used
> >primarily by gentile converts in cities like Antioch; most of the
> >first generation of followers would probably thought of themselves
> >as Jews or Israelites.
>I was not being "glib", but, rather, using a convention that would
>allow us to engage in a discussion of a specific group of people that
>existed in the 1st Century.
Scholarship is all about being precise in our terminology. A more accurate
label is "followers of Jesus."
> Were they all called "Christians" at the
>time, especially by one another? I doubt it.
Which is precisely why we should not use the term when we want to refer to
all followers of Jesus.
> But it is hardly
>unusual to use this terminology today, as Christians did exist, were
>known to one another, and did share certain beliefs that
>differentiated them from Jews and other Gentiles.
This is rampant anachronism.
> >If we accept the majority opinion that GMark was written about 70
> >C.E., then the only known contemporary manuscripts for what the
> >followers of Jesus were interested in were the letters of Paul --
> >and he doesn't show much interest in the biographical details.
>I have not focused on biographical details of the life of Jesus, but
>rather, his sayings, and supposed acts, including his miracles. Paul
>shows interest in these,
Oh, really? Scholars for centuries have scrutinized Paul for the sayings of
Jesus, and acts such as miracles, and have come up with almost nothing.
What have you found?
>... Further, I believe that it is possible to debate the
>subject of pre-Gospel sources like Q, the pre-Gospel PN, BN, and
>Resurrection accounts. I would hope that such debates would not be
>viewed as a radical departure for this list, as most scholars I have
>read and met accept that such sources did exist in some form.
Such debates are entirely appropriate. In fact, we have had them before.
> >So what you seem to be doing is *assuming* that the biographical
> >details about Jesus in the Gospels are based on memories of facts
> >about Jesus, rather than stuff made up by the evangelists, or formed
> >on the basis of Homeric prototypes, or fabricated on the basis of
> >prophecies in Isaiah, etc., as various scholars have proposed. Now,
> >I happen to think that the early followers of Jesus *were*
> >interested in preserving information about Jesus.
>Again I have not made any claims about the biographical Jesus. I do
>believe that sayings and acts attributed to him were preserved in a
>very early form.
I am a bit bemused by the difference between a "biographical" Jesus and
sayings and acts attributed to him. Just for the sake of clarity, would you
tell us what the difference is? I imagine you must have something like
GThomas in mind, with acts added in. Is that right? But since you seem to
favor a BN, sayings and acts, and a PN, you're awfully close to "biography".
Of course, to be clear, I was not really advocating the Gospels as
biographies. That's what I thought *you* were advocating. So, thanks for
> I also believe that an early form of the BN and PN
>existed. Quite honestly I would not expect these beliefs to be
>questioned, as they are held by a great many scholars.
This list is full of skeptics, and questioning is allowed. If you want to
make a case for an early form of the BN and PN, you are free to make it.
Regarding the PN, you have a fellow traveler in Crossan; however, he thinks
that the author of the Gospel of Peter made up most of the PN. There,
indeed, lies the dilemma: one scholar says X goes back to the historical
Jesus; another says X was made up by the earliest known author who wrote
about X. How are we to tell which claim is true?
> >But I don't know that for a fact. And I am not at all sure just what
> >kinds of information the earliest followers of Jesus were interested
> >in preserving.
>And that is what we are here to discuss.
> But if someone is going to assert that no one preserved anything about
> what Jesus said or did, then I would like to know their actual arguments
> so that I might test
>the strength of their claims.
I think you have Davies in mind, and I think you have read too much into
his questions. He did not, so far as I recall, claim that no one preserved
anything about what Jesus said or did; what he did is ask you for the
evidence that they had.
"Show me the evidence that Jesus said X" is not the same as "Jesus did not
> The Christian movement did not fall out of the sky.
Hmm. I thought that's where some people say Heaven is. Oops, scuse me.
> It was rooted in specific historical claims about a
>specific person living in a specific place.
But claims do not necessarily constitute evidence, especially if the claims
are made a generation or more after the alleged events by someone who was
not an eye-witness. (Again, I should remind you, I am taking a contrarian
point of view to test your logic and your evidence. That does not mean that
I am arguing that X, Y & Z never happened.)
>... so when I see hand waving dismissals of the evidence available to us,
>I would like
>to know the source of this scepticism. ...
Again, you have put the cart before the horse. If you make a claim, then
you are the one who is responsible for providing the evidence. Skepticism
(as opposed to naive acceptance of what one has been told) is part of the
stock in trade of critical scholarship.
> >So I encourage you to take Professor Davies' challenges seriously,
> >even if he does sometimes express those challenges with clever wit.
> >I would encourage you to examine what it is that we know, and how it
> >is that we know it: what our evidence is, and what is not evidence
> >but assumption.
>I have examined it Bob. But I did not see evidence from Steve's post
>that he was focusing on any specific issue, saying, or source about
>the historical Jesus. Instead he seemed to be saying that we do not
>know if early Christians preserved anything Jesus said or did. ...
Again, go back and look at what he actually wrote. I think you will find
that what he was doing was questioning your evidence. You make a claim,
then you must provide the evidence to back it up.
> >Also, to Stephen Carlson, who knows far more about the Synoptic
> >Problem than I do, you wrote,
><<<Of course it is always possible to use two or more sources, and in
> >Luke's case we do know that he did use more than one in the creation
> >of his Gospel. The problem is that similarities in the double
> >tradition do not necessarily point to textual dependence on Matthew,
> >since they could also originate from a common mutual source. As for
> >the "Mark/Q" overlaps, perhaps you could offer a couple of examples
> >for me to examine, as I do not believe that we can identify true
> >overlaps between Q and Mark.>>>
> >It seems like you are trying to re-invent the Synoptic wheel. I
> >think your time might be more efficiently spent by reviewing some of
> >the available literature on this subject, such as Sanders & Margaret
> >Davies' Studying the Synoptic Gospels. I also encourage you to
> >visit Stephen Carlson's excellent web site on the Synoptic problem,
> as a starting point.
>I have been through Carlson's web page, and though I have not read
>Sanders and Davies book, I have read a number of books and articles
>on the Synoptic Problem. I am not attempting to reinvent the
>Synotpic wheel as you suggest so much as I am questioning many of the
>fundamental assumptions that seem to underly much of the theory and
>research put into this question. I am especially sceptical of much
>of the effort produced recently by what some call the "Q Industry".
And yet you argue for Q. If you really doubt that Q was an actual document,
then the Mark/Q overlap problem disappears. If you argue that one can tell
the difference between Mark and Q in all those passages Steve Carlson
listed for you, then you are arguing that Q existed. Make up your mind!
>... I am also familiar with the fact that many are now trying to look for Q
>material in Mark (building on past efforts to find Q in exclusively
>Lucan material as well).
This statement does not show an understanding of the problem. To hold that
there is a Q, and then to reconstruct what Q included, one must look for
material common to Matthew and Luke that does not appear in Mark. But what
if Matthew and Luke have extensive verbatim agreement about a pericope that
is almost but not quite absent from Mark? In other words, a given story
might have some phrases identical in Matthew and Luke, but missing from
Mark, and other phrases common to all three gospels, and the triple
tradition parts of the story are part of the core of the story, so it is
inconceivable that Q could have the extra details but not the core-- if you
believe in Q.
>...All of that said, I remain extremely sceptical of these kinds of
>efforts, and wonder at the value of research that takes place without
>effective controls. Once we redefine Q, and allow material that is
>not found in the double traditions, we create a monster that can
>become anything we wish.
This is precisely the point of the problem with the Mark/Q overlaps. It is
not that people are looking for trouble, but that they find it in their
laps. The Mark/Q overlaps point to a fundamental problem with how Q is
usually defined, and there is no easy way to redefine Q to solve the
problem. The quandary only goes away if you reject the 2ST, which requires
Q, and pick another solution to the Synoptic problem.
> The implication that I am somehow being
>ignorant or naive in my questioning the underlying assumptions that
>go into this kind of research is something I find to be unfortunate.
>I would hope that it would remain acceptable to question these
I have no problem with your questioning of assumptions. I do wonder about
the ignorant or naive thingy when you don't appear to understand what the
problem is, despite your claims to have read up on the subject.
>I am always willing to do more homework Bob. To be honest, I am
>disappointed that you believe I would not do this. But if someone
>wants to make a case for Mark/Q overlaps, for example, I am going to
>challenge those arguments at a fundamental level.
Again, you don't appear to understand the problem. Its not that people
*want* Mark/Q overlaps. Its that they look at passages such as those listed
by Steve Carlson (and the shorter list that I gave you), and they wonder,
Is this in Q, or isn't it?
> And when Steve makes claims that he has never seen evidence of earlier
>material in GJohn, in my opinion this is either not being serious, or
>it ignores all of the arguments that have been made for the three
>fold redaction of GJohn, as well as the debates and discussions on
>the Signs Gospel.
I am not going to debate this with you, because I would rather debate what
Steve actually said, rather than your characterization of what you think he
> Perhaps Steve has good reason to reject these arguments, but I rarely
> find mere hand waving, or claimed ignorance of these arguments to be useful.
>I will be buying and reading Mark Goodacre's book shortly. I will
>continue to read other materials as well, and engage in discussions
>and debates. But in so doing, I will not always be accepting
>conventional wisdom, nor will I always be willing to buy into the
>assumptions of those with whom I debate.
> Steve's claims struck me as extreme, and possibly not even serious. You
> believe that he was
Steve has an extraordinary ability to see a weak argument or an unexamined
assumption that I have learned to appreciate.
I even appreciate his wry wit, even when he uses it against my arguments.
It is good to be able to laugh at oneself.
> Perhaps he was, but that does not mean that he is righ
Absolutely! I often disagree with him. But I have come to appreciate the
limits of our evidence, beyond which one can only make a personal decision
about what to believe.
>(nor that I am either). It simply means that we should exchange
>ideas, test our assumptions and evidence, and see how well our
>beliefs hold up in the course of our discussions.
>I will wait for Steve's response. If he was being serious, then we
I note that he has.
> In the meantime, I assure both you and him that I am
>keeping up with the ongoing research on the Synoptic Problem.
Good for you!
> And if my opinions happen to be idiosyncratic at times, that will not be a
>first for me. But those opinions will not be lightly formed, nor
>left undefended. I am always prepared to debate an opinion I hold strongly.
Me too, although I distinguish between a *position* I am willing to defend
on XTalk, and my opinions. I have many more opinions than I have defensible
positions, and I have learned that it is usually not a good use of my time
to proclaim opinions that I cannot support with evidence and good logic.
Actually, I am not very enthusiastic about anyone's opinions. We have had
some participants who were in the habit of grandly proclaiming their
opinions without offering much in the way of justification, and those
conversations would usually slide into ad hominem attacks (what is an ad
hominem attack, after all, if it is not an opinion?) But I welcome
carefully reasoned positions based on the evidence.
>Calgary, AB, Canada
Thank you, and be well likewise. I hope this response is better than my
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