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Re: Consensus: was Re: [Synoptic-L] The Cryptic Message of the Gospel of Mark

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  • Tim Lewis
    I m not sure I understand what exactly is being argued by John Lupia and the implications for the Synoptic Problem. John, Are you implying that a scholar who
    Message 1 of 13 , Jul 18, 2005
      I'm not sure I understand what exactly is being argued by John Lupia and the implications for the Synoptic Problem.

      John,
      Are you implying that a scholar who today concludes by his/her own research that Mk was a source of Mt and/or Lk, simply shares/assumes older theological agendas? Surely similar conclusions do not necessarily mean similar agendas. Perhaps me being in Australia means I cannot appreciate the supposed still alive "agenda" of "debunking Catholicism". I don't see how we can determine which scholars conclusions are or are not driven by such an agenda unless on a case by case example. Otherwise it sounds like a general accusation. Since none of us can attain objectivity we rely on well articulated perspectives and each of us must search out our own agendas and try to get better at acknowledging them. Perhaps holding an anti-consensus view might be part of one's particular agenda? Your points against the validity of scholarly consensus are interesting when juxtaposed with Farmer's comment on majority opinions in Rethinking the Synoptic Problem, 2001 ("On this side of the Atlantic, however, the majority of scholars publishing research on the Synoptic problem are proponents of the two-Gospel hypothesis") where appealing to any consensus might be now counted against him! Perhaps appealing to consensus is actually an argument of the weakest sort, used by those in a weak position? What then are the stronger arguments? (That we *might* agree on!).

      I have doubts that theological agendas can be so easily held responsible. Surely the background of today's scholars and their agendas are more complex. I think we need to work on one example at a time. I don't see how conclusions that aren't necessarily supportive of a particular theology are charged with an anti-Catholic theology. I think different scholars hold to Markan priority for differing reasons. My own reasons will not be identical to others.
      Tim Lewis
      -- -- -- --
      Timothy M. Lewis
      Cranbourne, VIC 3977
      Part-time Greek Tutor at Whitley College,
      Melbourne College of Divinity, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: John Lupia
      To: Tony Buglass ; Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2005 3:33 AM
      Subject: Re: Consensus: was Re: [Synoptic-L] The Cryptic Message of the Gospel of Mark


      Tony, you raise seven important questions: (1) is the
      hidden agenda of 19th century Protestant biblical
      scholars still alive and viable in contemporary
      biblical studies? (2) Does Matthean priority
      necessarily convey a Catholic apologetic since some
      Protestant biblical scholars also advocate it? (3) Is
      the Markan priority theory isolated to Protestant
      scholars today or is it shared also by Catholics as
      well demonstrating conservative versus liberal
      scholarship? (4) Is textual criticism a
      pseudo-science? (5) Who was actually professing that
      John is second century? (6) Who is actually
      responsible for new discoveries of papyri? (7) What is
      the value of patristic statements regarding the order
      of the production of the Gospels?

      It will take much effort to answer all of these in a
      single email. I will attempt to answer them briefly.
      Further discussion will necessarily follow.


      FIRST QUESTION

      Is the hidden agenda of 19th century Protestant
      biblical scholars still alive and viable in
      contemporary biblical studies?

      This question is based on Tony's reply:
      I don't know how far I'd be prepared to entertain it -
      after a while, one does become sated with conspiracy
      theories (which is why I didn't read the D Vinci
      Code...). In any case, while a 19th C scenario might
      justify such agenda, I'm not really persuaded that a
      modern international academic dialogue can be driven
      in that way.
      For my part, I find it difficult to accept that
      virtually the whole of the vast literature of biblical
      commentary and criticism is based upon a lie, or at
      best a methodological error. Or have I overstated
      your case?


      The evidence for the claim is found in the texts of
      contemporary authors. Has biblical scholarship
      including the Synoptic Problem become a platform for a
      Protestant agenda to debunk Catholicism? It would be
      impossible to argue against this idea since nearly
      every book on the subject contains the hidden agenda I
      have pointed out, negative readings of Mark, factions
      within the apostolic church resulting in different
      disparate church communities with different disparate
      teachings, no papacy, no central church hierarchy, no
      Eucharist until much later, no sacraments, or if a
      concession is made about some none is given for there
      being seven, Jesus founded no church, the apostles may
      have founded separate disparate communities but
      certainly not in union with one another, Roman Church
      authority is much later, many verses of scripture are
      much later additions by a corrupt Roman Church, and
      every other sort of negative propaganda to undermine
      the Catholic faith, all done in the name of "honest"
      and "objective" scholarship attempting to be as
      scientific as possible.

      SECOND QUESTION

      Does Matthean priority necessarily convey a Catholic
      apologetic since some Protestant biblical scholars
      also advocate it?

      This question is based on Tony's reply:
      I confess to not knowing of hand of any scholars
      arguing for Matthean priority, but I'd be willing to
      bet there are Protestants as well as Catholics on the
      list.

      I do not think that Matthean priority is driven by the
      agenda of the Markan prioritist's camp.

      THIRD QUESTION

      Is the Markan priority theory isolated to Protestant
      scholars today or is it shared also by Catholics as
      well demonstrating conservative versus liberal
      scholarship?

      This question is based on Tony's reply:
      Further, the issue of Markan versus Matthean priority
      is not itself coterminous with Protestant - Catholic
      scholarship, is it?
      On the other hand, I think I'm right in saying that
      Catholic scholars such as Raymond Brown and John Meier
      argue for Markan priority. And have the imprimatur to
      do so. Is the underlying agenda one of conservative
      versus liberal scholarship, rather than Catholic
      versus Protestant or even faith versus unbelief?


      It is indeed a conservative v. liberal issue within
      Catholic biblical studies. This does not negate the
      origins of the movement in the 18th century, as you
      admit, as driven to debunk Catholicism.


      FOURTH QUESTION

      Is textual criticism a pseudo-science?

      This question is based on Tony's reply:
      However, I think there is more value in the techniques
      of textual and linguistic criticism than implied by
      the use of terms such as "pseudo-science".

      Pseudo-science is any theory, methodology, or practice
      that is considered to be without scientific foundation
      lacking empirical evidence and which fails to comply
      with scientific method. The aim of textual criticism
      is to discover the original text. Can this be
      scientifically accomplished? However, the bulk of what
      textual critics actually do is to study the existing
      texts and compare them with the hope of placing the
      variety of texts into a genealogy. This is textual
      criticism at its best and soundest method. Text
      criticism does enter the forum of a pseudo-science
      when it makes dogmatic conclusions which verses are
      not original, i.e., which verses are to be excluded
      from our consideration as being part of the original
      text, and which verses are later editorial additions
      and/or emendations. When text critics pontificate that
      it is a "fact" that their conclusions regarding
      certain verses of scripture are not original or later
      editorial additions and/or emendations they are
      stating "pseudo-facts" not "hard facts" and enter the
      forum of pseudo-science.

      FIFTH QUESTION

      Who was actually professing that John is second
      century?

      This question is based on Tony's reply:
      There are "hard facts" (given that 'facts' are always
      to an extent mixed up with interpretation). For
      example, it was argued for some time that John's
      Gospel was a late 2nd C fake, but that was effectively
      falsified by the discovery of the Rylands papyrus.


      No Catholic scholar, to the best of my knowledge, has
      ever thought this or published such an outrageous
      claim.


      SIXTH QUESTION

      Who is actually responsible for new discoveries of
      papyri?

      This question is based on Tony's reply:
      There are "hard facts" (given that 'facts' are always
      to an extent mixed up with interpretation). For
      example, it was argued for some time that John's
      Gospel was a late 2nd C fake, but that was effectively
      falsified by the discovery of the Rylands papyrus. Is
      this pseudo-science?


      You are confusing the discoveries made by
      archaeologists and others as the work of texts
      critics.


      SEVENTH QUESTION

      What is the value of patristic statements regarding
      the order of the production of the Gospels?

      This question is based on Tony's reply:
      What about the testimony of the Fathers, such as
      Clement, to the effect that John wrote his gospel last
      of all? Again, given that there are issues of
      interpretation and history involved in evaluating
      patristic texts, this is evidence of a more or less
      firm nature, isn't it?

      It is only historical evidence that attests to what an
      author thought at a given period of time, in this case
      the early 3rd century. Clement does not say second
      century does he? He also does not even suggest it.
      Rather he appears to place the Gospel of John during
      Peter's pontificate immediately after Mark's Gospel
      circulated and characterizes Peter's reaction as
      neutral "he neither directly forbade nor encouraged
      it" being circulated. Now what does this tell us about
      Clement of Alexandria's views about the Gospels being
      written in relationship to the Church and its central
      authority the Pope? It tells us that Clement has no
      understanding how the Gospel's came to be written
      outside of Papias since he is paraphrasing him, and
      based on that text the Pope and Catholic hierarchy had
      nothing to do with the commissioning the compositions
      of the Gospels but rather the evangelists took it on
      themselves to write them down. So it is clear to me
      that by the second century and later no Catholic
      Father knew the origin of the Gospels or their order
      of production but were persuaded and influenced by
      Papias' testimony. So the whole force of the Patristic
      testimony on this subject rests on the veracity of
      Papias, whom I am convinced was a heretic bishop and
      the first supporter of the Montanist heresy


      Best regards,
      John N. Lupia, III

      John N. Lupia, III
      Beachwood, New Jersey 08722 USA
      Fax: (732) 349-3910
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News/
      God Bless America



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    • Tony Buglass
      John replied to a series of questions he identified in my previous post: Re the hidden agenda of scholarship Has biblical scholarship including the Synoptic
      Message 2 of 13 , Jul 19, 2005
        John replied to a series of questions he identified in my previous post:

        Re the hidden agenda of scholarship
        "Has biblical scholarship
        including the Synoptic Problem become a platform for a
        Protestant agenda to debunk Catholicism? It would be
        impossible to argue against this idea since nearly
        every book on the subject contains the hidden agenda I
        have pointed out, negative readings of Mark, factions
        within the apostolic church resulting in different
        disparate church communities with different disparate
        teachings, no papacy, no central church hierarchy, no
        Eucharist until much later, no sacraments, or if a
        concession is made about some none is given for there
        being seven, Jesus founded no church, the apostles may
        have founded separate disparate communities but
        certainly not in union with one another, Roman Church
        authority is much later, many verses of scripture are
        much later additions by a corrupt Roman Church, and
        every other sort of negative propaganda to undermine
        the Catholic faith, all done in the name of "honest"
        and "objective" scholarship attempting to be as
        scientific as possible."

        Tony:
        The question as far as I'm concerned is not whether it is anti-Catholic or anti-Roman, but whether it is true according to the best historical and theological methodology. I am not convinced that there is such a hidden agenda in modern scholarship (whatever may or may not have been the case 150 years ago - we have moved on, I think).

        John:
        I do not think that Matthean priority is driven by the
        agenda of the Markan prioritist's camp.

        Tony:
        Again, I don't think it has to do with an agenda so much as a question of evidence - which text appears to have known and used the other?

        John:
        It is indeed a conservative v. liberal issue within
        Catholic biblical studies. This does not negate the
        origins of the movement in the 18th century, as you
        admit, as driven to debunk Catholicism.

        Tony:
        I think I suggested it wasn't just about debunking Catholicism, but debunking orthodoxy in general. However, my main point is that whatever the alleged agenda or motivation of the people who first raised a question, if the question itself is valid the origins may be irrelevant to the later discussion.

        John:
        Pseudo-science is any theory, methodology, or practice
        that is considered to be without scientific foundation
        lacking empirical evidence and which fails to comply
        with scientific method.

        Which scientific method? The method which is used by chemistry and physics is not the same as the method which is used by geologists or evolutionary biologists - it would much too long to conduct an experiment to verify or falsify the hypothesis. So while it may be true that the method of eg text-critics may be less empirical than that of a chemist, it does not necessarily reduce the technique to "pseudo-science". There are indeed hard facts, which may allow firm evaluation to take place. For example, GThomas contains a version of the parable of the wicked husbandmen (Thom.65:1-7, cf Mk.12:1-12; Mt.21:33-39; Lk.20:9-15a). The canonical version has certain allegorical features which ae lacking in the Thomas version. Most commentators I have read believe that allegory is a later step of development in a parable tradition, and therefore the version of the saying in Thomas (regardless of the possible relative dates of authorship of the texts) represents an earlier form of the tradition. Now, my point here is not particularly to make a specific claim about that saying or indeed the texts to which they belong, but to demonstrate that they are hard facts, and open to proper analysis. To attack that analysis as pseudo-science begins to sound like special pleading, unless you have a proper methodological criticism to bring and a resultant better methodology.

        John:
        No Catholic scholar, to the best of my knowledge, has
        ever thought this or published such an outrageous
        claim (ie that GJohn was a late 2nd C fake).

        Tony:
        Probably not. Without digging into my commentaries to rediscover what I read a long time ago, I think it was originally Wellhausen, but I'm open to correction on that. As I remember, the agenda was less to do with a wish to debunk Catholic authority, but to examine the texts of the NT with the same critical tools as were already being used on other ancient texts. His conclusions were that the theology and style of the fourth gospel were so different ffrom the synoptics, and so much more developed, that it couldn't conceivably be 1st C or apostolic. As I remember (and it is a vague memory, I admit) he drew closer comparisons with 2nd C writings. If there is a (not so hidden) agenda, it was to treat the biblical manuscripts as historical artifacts in their own right, rather than as sacred texts which were somehow beyond historical study. If that was anti-Catholic, I suggest it was just as anti-Protestant.

        John:
        You are confusing the discoveries made by
        archaeologists and others as the work of texts
        critics.

        Tony:
        Well, I'm not an archaeologist, and I'm not a text critic. Primarily, I'm a preacher, and because I want to preach truth, I'm committed to using the best expertise I can lay my hands on to understand the texts from which I preach. In this instance, I rely on historians, archaologists and text critics to provide me with the best focus on historical data.

        John:
        ...it is clear to me
        that by the second century and later no Catholic
        Father knew the origin of the Gospels or their order
        of production but were persuaded and influenced by
        Papias' testimony. So the whole force of the Patristic
        testimony on this subject rests on the veracity of
        Papias, whom I am convinced was a heretic bishop and
        the first supporter of the Montanist heresy

        Tony:
        Well, he was certainly millenarian, but that wasn't heretical, was it? And if we get into a discussion of Montanism, we'll be drifting seriously off-topic for this list. But even if he had Montanist sympathies, that doesn't make him unreliable or necessarily wrong, does it? This sounds dangerously like the sort of character assassination which has been used by establishments over the centuries when they wish to discredit opponents but not engage in the arguments (and I think a discussion of Montanism would illustrate that, as would a discussion of the response of British Wesleyan Methodist authorities to the introduction of the camp meetings and consequent beginnings o Primitive Methodism, but like I said - off-topic!).

        We could continue to argue this one at length, I'm sure. I think for the moment, I simply want to make the point that the issue should be debated for its own sake, and according to a proper technical understanding of the issues and facts. I am unhappy about what sounds to me like special pleading, and especially unhappy at claims that proper critical method is no more than a front for anti-Catholic propaganda. It reminds me of an argument between Latin American liberation theologians and European theologians in the late 1970s, when the liberationists felt the Europeans were not willing to accept their presuppositions, and warned that "incommunication was about to occur". I'd echo here with regard to biblical criticism what Bruce has just argued about historical study in general - surely it is possible to do it with proper method and integrity.

        Cheers,
        Rev Tony Buglass
        Superintendent Minister
        Upper Calder Methodist Circuit








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      • John Lupia
        ... Dear Tony: Thanks for your reply. I am not available right now to respond properly to this entire post and that of others since I am deep in the middle of
        Message 3 of 13 , Jul 19, 2005
          --- Tony Buglass <TonyBuglass@...> wrote:

          >
          > Tony:
          > The question as far as I'm concerned is not whether
          > it is anti-Catholic or anti-Roman, but whether it is
          > true according to the best historical and
          > theological methodology. I am not convinced that
          > there is such a hidden agenda in modern scholarship
          > (whatever may or may not have been the case 150
          > years ago - we have moved on, I think).

          Dear Tony:

          Thanks for your reply. I am not available right now to
          respond properly to this entire post and that of
          others since I am deep in the middle of a project. I
          apologize for having to delay this dialogue but will
          respond as time allows.

          The key here is in what you say: "whether it is true
          according to the best historical and theological
          methodology." This, of course, goes without saying. If
          the radical conclusions drawn (what I call radical are
          the agenda components described as anti-Catholic
          polemic) were derived from the "best historical and
          theological methodology" I would not have voiced any
          complaint but would have to accept those conclusions
          as "factual" and rethink the validity of Catholicism
          as it claims to be founded by Christ, appointed his
          vicar, the pope, that he instituted the Eucharist
          which the Church has keep active in liturgy for 2
          millennia, and so on. The criticism is that they are
          not the best historical or theological methods but
          faulty, and seriously flawed at that. Present any
          example or what you consider the best example on this
          issue and we can discuss it. What do these claims on
          these subjects really have to do with literary
          dependence from one author to another? Nothing. Yet
          they are introduced and made to look as if they are
          the crux of the argument and each conclusion is
          baseless with seriously flawed logic and methodology.
          So it becomes clear that there must be some other
          motive why these issues are introduced to begin with
          and given as if critical to prove literary dependency,
          where they emerge as sounding boards or platforms for
          some other hidden agenda.

          Sorrry, this is all I have time for for now. Meanwhile
          find your best example that does introduce arguments
          and conclusions that (consciously or unconsciously)
          wind up being so-called evidence that proves
          Catholicism is a sham, all in good intended purposes,
          of course, to arrive at the truth using the "best" of
          science.

          Thank you for your sincerity and openess to have such
          a dialogue.

          Best regards,
          John N. Lupia, III

          John N. Lupia, III
          Beachwood, New Jersey 08722 USA
          Fax: (732) 349-3910
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roman-Catholic-News/
          God Bless America



          ____________________________________________________
          Start your day with Yahoo! - make it your home page
          http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs
        • E Bruce Brooks
          To: Synoptic In Response To: Tony Buglass On: Methodology From: Bruce I don t mean to seem to pick at Tony, whose moderate statement of recent issues seems to
          Message 4 of 13 , Jul 19, 2005
            To: Synoptic
            In Response To: Tony Buglass
            On: Methodology
            From: Bruce

            I don't mean to seem to pick at Tony, whose moderate statement of recent
            issues seems to me to be well considered and helpful to the conversation. I
            am grateful for that contribution. But at the same time, I couldn't help
            noticing this one sentence:

            TONY: The question as far as I'm concerned is not whether it is
            anti-Catholic or anti-Roman, but whether it is true according to the best
            historical and theological methodology.

            BRUCE: Tilt. Theological methodology? What exactly does that add to
            historical methodology, in investigating a question of history, whether it
            be the Roman spice trade with India, or the doctrinal disputes in the early
            Christian church?

            If I were running an NT list (which at present I am not), my worst nightmare
            would be that Dean Burgon would ask to join. A vastly learned man, familiar
            with the Synoptics, on what grounds could you refuse him? On the other hand,
            once in the conversation, he would be likely to insist (and if he did, what
            decent and civil person would be prepared to face him down, on an idea so
            obviously important to him) that God must have prevented His Word from being
            mutilated in transmission, so that the idea of text corruption in the
            mainstream is simply unacceptable. As members of the tax-exempt Dean Burgon
            Society will probably tell you if you ask them, this means that the Textus
            Receptus must remain inviolable under scholarly scrutiny; in effect, that
            scholarly scrutiny is inappropriate in the first place, and must give way to
            personal reverence. It is the Burgonites (as I understand the current
            lineups) who at this very minute are reviling Lachmann, not because his
            methodology was faulty, or wrongly applied to the data, but on the ultimate
            primary ground that he was not a true believer in the religion of Jesus. All
            this strikes me as the sort of deadlock any analytical attempt is likely to
            get into, if "theological methodology" is allowed in among the assumptions.

            So thinking, I would be inclined to say that theological methodology not
            only cannot validly assist historical methodology, but that historical
            methodology, or any other objective methodology, cannot even be followed out
            to its end, in the presence of theological considerations. Eppur si muove.

            But as a follower of Confucius, I am always ready to be shown to be wrong. I
            thus ask Tony or anyone who understands his meaning here: Is there a sense
            in which "theological methodology" can validly and supportively aid a
            historical enterprise? How, for example, would it lighten the conceptual
            labors of those studying (from amphoras recovered by marine archaelogy off
            the coast of India) the Roman spice trade?

            If it can do such things, that will be good news for all the non-NT fields,
            and nobody will be gladder than myself to carry that good news to my
            colleagues, the underwater archaeologists, one of whom I am lunching with
            next week, and all of whom need all the help they can get, conceptual or
            otherwise.

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks
            Warring States Project
            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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