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803Re: Schonfield, sales, and scholarship

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  • Mike Grondin
    Jul 4, 1998
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      Anne-

      I don't know whether Barbara Thiering did any better with "Jesus the
      Man" than she did in "Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls",
      which I read some number of years ago, but I can tell you that I was not
      favorably impressed with the latter. What struck me about it was not so
      much that her main thesis was so unusual, as that she spent so little
      effort arguing for it. One would think that, if someone has an unusual
      theory, the main effort would be in marshalling support for it. Instead,
      Thiering seemed to be more concerned with the internal consistency of
      the theory, which, while important, would seem secondary in such a case.
      I kept waiting for her to say, "And here's why you should believe in my
      theory..." She never did, to my recollection, which is probably why I
      was so frustrated with the book, in spite of the fact that it contained
      some useful factual information in those voluminous appendices.

      Same basic complaint would go for such as Earl Doherty (who claims that
      there was no historical Jesus). If you've got an unusual theory (and I
      do, by the way, so these same comments apply to me), your number one
      task is to make that theory plausible - not just internally consistent
      or "possible" - but plausible. If you can't do that, you shouldn't
      expect to be taken seriously by scholars, and you won't be.

      Obviously, I don't believe that Schonfield's writings are of the same
      order as those above-mentioned, in spite of the fact that he also is
      rarely mentioned in respectable bibliographies. I think that, in his
      case, it's more an accident of timing and strategy than a lack of
      quality work.

      Mike
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