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Re: [Synoptic-L] ascripture

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter On: 2Pt Etc [nominal heading: ascripture] From: Bruce DENNIS: Can one have any confidence, historically, in
    Message 1 of 2 , May 26, 2007
      To: Synoptic
      In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter
      On: 2Pt Etc [nominal heading: ascripture]
      From: Bruce

      DENNIS: Can one have any confidence, historically, in the "authority" of any
      of the Christian canon (or for that matter, the Tanakh), inasmuch as the
      books being written by a particular person? Isn't this a theological claim,
      based loosely on Eusebius and his literary references, many which are no
      longer with us?

      BRUCE: For myself, I don't so much care about "us," the question is what the
      people at time thought. And at least some of them, at the time and long
      before Eusebius, seem to have thought that putting a doctrine or a doctrinal
      comment under the name of a recognized Apostle was more effective, for
      achieving the intended purpose, than signing it Sine Nomine, Cappadocia.
      There are modern parallels, if one needs modern parallels. Thus, after the
      deaths of Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, mysteries involving the same
      lead characters continued to issue from the respective presses, not as
      commanding belief, but (the basic equivalent) as exploiting an established
      market share. A known name is better than an unknown name, even when (as in
      those cases) the known name is recognized as fictive. Those applying to
      graduate school, please take note.

      Hence the ascripture.

      Doctrinal authority was a burning issue at the time, and also for many
      today. What historical value these same texts have, in recovering the early
      history of the Church, is a separate matter. In brief: *all* texts have
      value for history, the problem is to place them at the *right point* in
      history, so that they testify to the time when they were written, rather
      than confusing us about the time which they instead purport to describe. In
      2Pt, the issue was a tendency to abandon the doctrine of the Second Coming.
      2Pt, on present understanding, cannot be taken as evidence that this
      occurred during the lifetime of Peter. On the contrary, it attests that
      problem at a considerably later date, after the first generation of Apostles
      had passed from the scene (the previous Epistle of Jude also is written from
      that temporal perspective, albeit claiming to come from within Apostolic
      times).

      DENNIS: I guess I wonder if that is history or theology.

      BRUCE: It's history, but with inevitable consequences for theology. In the
      consequences lies the rub. At bottom (as was determined from the other side,
      in the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis of 1907), history and theology
      don't mix. The view from within theology is that theology is constant;
      specifically, it is what Thomas Aquinas said it was. History, by which I
      mean the historian, sees it as changing. Biblical scholars speak of
      "bracketing off" their theological commitment when functioning as
      historians. It must be somewhat difficult to do this successfully and
      consistently. Pascendi Dominici Gregis puts it in the correct terms: more
      than the shepherd, it's the interest of the flock that is paramount. A given
      Biblical scholar may reject the ascription of 2Pt to Pt, and remain
      personally comfortable with the rest of the belief and ascription nexus; he
      manages to keep his personal equilibrium. But when he puts on his Sunday hat
      and addresses his flock, what then? Will 2Pt be citable in that context, as
      [to paraphrase one mid-20c commentary] The Word of God? And if not, what is
      the effect on the flock of his refusing to so regard it? The whole thing is
      radically untenable. Whence the encyclical, and one readily enough sees
      where it was coming from.

      DENNIS: A question: When I tried to comment, "reply" gave me the name of the
      person to whom I was attempting to respond, not Synoptic. Why?

      BRUCE: It's the way the list is set up at Yahoo. Most lists operate the
      other way. But to reply to Synoptic in responding to a Synoptic message, use
      instead Reply All. Messes me up all the time; I should keep a note on my
      desk. Problem is finding room on my desk for another note.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      http://www.umass.edu/wsp
    • Dennis Dean Carpenter
      Thanks for the tip on reply to the group, Bruce. I like your modern parallels. I would, however, choose The Stratemeyer Syndicate as a relatively modern
      Message 2 of 2 , May 26, 2007
        Thanks for the tip on reply to the group, Bruce.

        I like your modern parallels. I would, however, choose The Stratemeyer
        Syndicate as a relatively modern parallel. In those many books published
        (Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift and others), none were
        actually penned, as far as I know, by the author named, but to this day
        children are fans of "Dixon," "Hope," "Keene," etc.

        I think one of the issues in scholarship today is when "at the time" was.
        Were Luke and Acts written after the Apostolic Age, leading into the
        Apologetic Age, as some have proposed? Was Acts written, to a large part, to
        counteract Marcion and to "clean up" Paul for the orthodoxy (or
        proto-orthodoxy)? Can not the uncontested Paulines be contested as being
        later than assumed? I would submit that "at the time" has quite a bit to do
        with the synoptic problem, which seems to become less and less a problem
        when the distance between the writing of Matthew and Luke is widened.

        (I realize you were talking about 2nd Peter, so I'll leave it there.)

        Dennis

        Dennis Dean Carpenter
        Dahlonega, Ga.
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