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757Re: Schonfield, sales, and scholarship

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  • Mike Grondin
    Jul 2, 1998
      It's a tricky business, ISTM, being able to write something which is at
      the same time both scholarly and popular. Fortunately, it's not all that
      uncommon (the names of Dom Crossan & Elaine Pagels spring to mind). For
      those few who might not know it, Hugh Schoenfield is best known as the
      author of "The Passover Plot" (1966), which aroused a storm of
      controversy at the time, with its contention that Yeshu engineered his
      own crucifixion and "resurrection" (a thesis bearing interesting
      parallels to Schweitzer's views). Over a period of many years,
      Schoenfield wrote a number of other books which are also well-worth
      reading, including notably his own translation "The Original New
      Testament" (1985).

      But back to the main point: Carl Sagan was another writer who performed
      a valuable service to his field of study by popularizing the state of
      knowledge therein. When one does this, one inevitably arouses a certain
      amount of professional jealousy. This response is not entirely
      subjective, since the process of making a complex subject understandable
      to those outside the field necessarily involves some choices of wording
      and emphasis which one would not necessarily use in journal articles or
      scholarly discussions, and which might thus appear (to those in the
      field) to be over-simplifications.

      Mahlon Smith has written on this subject also, with respect to the Jesus
      Seminar, who are suspect in some quarters (including Koester's?) because
      of their openly-avowed aim to popularize their work.

      Why Schoenfield never fared as well within the academic community as
      Pagels and Crossan, e.g., may very well have to do with his adopting a
      "stand-offish" attitude - I don't know, but Tom seems to suggest as
      much. I can't really understand this attitude myself, but perhaps it had
      something to do with his background or circumstances, or with the
      response that his 1966 work met with.

      Mike G.
      The Codex II Student Resource Center
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