Dave Hindley's response to Q Seminar reply is posted to Synoptic-L:
Again thank you for the kind response, although none was really
required or expected (as I realize that you are very busy)!
You are quite right, IMHO, to emphasize the arbitrary nature of
hypothetical entities when analyzing evidence. A short while ago I was
re-reading _Induction and Hypothesis: A Study of the Logic of
Confirmation_ (S. F. Barker, Cornell U. Press, 1957), which I had
looked at back in college (in the late 70's). The first pass through
it had left me with the feeling that there was no *one* way to analyze
evidence, and I was left a bit disenchanted. In the 20+ years that
have passed since then, and in the aftermath of the recent J. D.
Crossan seminar on XTalk, I thought that, maybe, it would come
together for me this time around.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. The only conclusion I could come to was
that I would have to invest much more resources towards increasing my
familiarity with the various means by which hypotheses can be formed
(through eliminative and enumerative induction) and evaluated on their
own merit - especially in cases where unobserved entities are required
(through criterion of simplicity, the principals of reductionism and
formalism) along with the problems and limitations they present in
their methodological application. These things, I am sure, you are
also grappling with, and I have great confidence in your ability to
sort these issues out.
That being said, the social models you have employed in your analysis
of the Q evidence are problematic in my opinion. _Excavating Q_ goes
"on the offensive" in defense of the Galilean social models created by
several researchers to explain the Q evidence. In spite of all the
individual parallels that can be made with known 1st century
historical relics, all sorts of modern presuppositions can be
transferred to the hypothetical models that must be created to explain
the parallels. So again, the arbitrary nature of hypotheses becomes an
issue. In the process of bettering my understanding of the
methodological problems inherent in historical investigations, such as
above, I've found Alun Munslow's _Deconstructing History_ (Routledge,
1997) to be quite helpful.
Finally, in regard to your approach to literary analysis, I again
appreciated the fact that you have a clear-cut method in mind (perhaps
along the lines of Hans Conzelmann & Andreas Lindermann, _Interpreting
the New Testament_, ET 1988?). Of course, I presume that you are
familiar with the Structural approaches and the new dispensation of
Narrative Criticism that developed in reaction to it, and in may ways
incorporating many of its methods? Scouring your author index, though,
I did not see names associated with structural approaches such as
Roland Barthes, Paul De Man, Jacques Derrida, Michael Foucault, Julia
Kristeva, Jacques Lacan and Daniel Patte, or with historical
methodology in general, such as E. H. Carr, R. G. Collingwood,
Geoffrey Elton, Carl Hemple, Jean Francois Lyotard, Ferdinand Saussure
or Hayden White.
After the Crossan seminar, I became anxious about the methodological
state of affairs in biblical criticism. It was clear that biblical
critics who employ variations of the historical method had largely
forged their own path, creating a number of unique structures and
methods along the way, but at the same time have not been keeping
close tabs on the secular side of the discipline. I am almost afraid
that "we" are deluding ourselves into thinking we are more or less
objectively going along when we are in fact constructing something
that reflects ever more our modern hopes and desires than a historical
reconstruction of the past.
My hope is that you, and others, will (continue to?) make a concerted
effort to keep in touch with the methods and epistemological issues
that are raging in the secular branches of historical investigation,
as well as try to present up front (and to an extent justify)
approaches that are adopted in the analytical process. From reading
reviews in the RBL newsletters, it is clear that in the ranks of
academia these issues are being considered, but they are not being
reflected in many major works. This has to be of concern, if only to
preserve our own integrity. If we limit ourselves to authors specific
to our disciplines only, we are running a risk of proceeding with
Good luck! I look forward to your future contributions!
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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