4611How steady are the shoulders of the giants on which we stand?
- Nov 12, 2012Recent references to Michael Goulder have led me to crystallize some thoughts regarding scholars that have gone before
us. In particular, how much weight should we give to the opinions of the 'greats?' How, I have no hesitation in
accepting 'hard' evidence from anyone, e.g. details of particular variant readings in mss, quotes from the early church
fathers, or the like, but I start to get more wary regarding interpretations of what that evidence means, or comments
regarding what such and such scribe might have chosen to do, or what any of the authors (e.g. of the gospels) might have
been trying to achieve. Going back in time a bit, how much weight can we give to people who never knew the papyri that
are so important today (P46 and P75 immediately spring to mind)? Then, perhaps more relevant to today, how much has the
advent of computer-based analytical techniques allowed us to uncover information that was simply unknowable only a short
time ago? A contentious issue, I feel sure, but nevertheless I'd like to know what people think. I particularly like
this quote from Isaac Newton: "I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena,
and I frame no hypotheses; for whatever is not deduced from the phenomena is to be called a hypothesis, and hypotheses,
whether metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy."
David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA
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