Re: Galilean (as in Galileo, not Galilee!) method.
- James R. Covey wrote:
>Dom Crossan was co-founder & co-chair of the JS & chief architect of the
> re missive of 31/07/98 07:02 PM signed -Mahlon H. Smith- :
> >If you do, please give examples & explain exactly why you think these
> >are "methodological" whereas the JS procedures are not.
> Easy. John Dominic Crossan's _The Historical Jesus_.
JS's research program throughout the sayings phase of the debates. He
tried out many of his own research ideas on us & refined his own
methodology in the light of JS debates. His use of social modeling in
*HJ* was the direct result of interaction with Bruce Malina, Jerry
Neyrey, & others in the Social Facets section of the JS who also
contributed to the debates on sayings in the early phases. In short, the
methodology outlined in Crossan's *HJ* pp. xxvii-xxxix is in many ways a
direct by-product of procedures developed in JS debates.
The major difference is that Crossan's *HJ* like most HJ research is the
work of an individual scholar while the JS conclusions are the result of
debates between scholars with divergent assessments of the history of
the tradition. The methods & procedures adopted by the JS were that of a
public debate forum, not that of a research team working under the
direction of a single mentor. The rules of debate, like any competition,
have to respect divergent viewpoints & strategies within a mutually
agreeable framework of interaction. So the conclusions of such a project
cannot be expected to have the same uniform consistency as the work of a
single mind. The point of my comparison of the JS to Galileo's method
was limited to dedication to observation & objective description of
concrete phenomena rather than to prior tradition. It was not meant to
infer that the JS voting produced the same type of mathematically
> >The [JS's] admissable criteria for arguing or questioning theJim objected:
> >genuineness of ascription of a pericope had to be historically,
> >text-critically & tradition-history neutral.
>I have worked my way through Crossan's *HJ* a couple of times & have
> Fine. But there was no method put in place for *applying* those
> criteria, some of which, strictly speaking, contradict each other.
> Different criteria were applied differently by different scholars,
> leading to different results. Then it was all sorted out by a vote.
> Crossan argues that, strictly speaking, the use of criteria without
> a defined method (as in his example: Meier, and my example: the JSem)
> does not a methodology make. I agree.
debated with him for the past 13 years, but don't recall him ever saying
quite that. So you will have to refresh my aging mind with page or
quote. Crossan is usually quite deferential to Meier & (except for Ray
Brown) generally only quotes scholars he agrees with.
Crossan's primary critique of HJ research is that it does not
systematically respect (1) the chronological stratigraphy of sources &
(2) multiple attestation. Thus, in proposing the JS agenda he gave
priority to pericopae that are multiply attested in texts that he
located in the earliest stratum of sources: particularly Q & GThom.
Non-multiply attested Markan passages were treated next, followed by
singularly attested passages in Q & GThom. Finally we sifted special
sayings in Matt, Luke & GJohn. If you'll consult the Forum reports on
the voting on pericopes for the sayings phase of the JS, I think you'll
find that they mirror Crossan's stratigraphy of sources. The main
difference is that in *HJ* Crossan uses only passages in his primary
stratum that are multiply attested, while in the JS he sometimes argued
red or pink for singly attested items in later strata & regularly
accepted the fact that he was only one voice with one vote.
As for your comment about the JS's lack of method "in place" for
"applying" the criteria, please be more specific. What type of method
for applying the criteria to what? Are you inferring that we had to get
unanimity of 70+ scholars on how historical criteria were applicable to
the literary sources *before* we got around to debating the historical
value of the sayings & stories? If we had done that we have become mired
in abstract philosophical issues & may never have gotten around to
assessing the historicity of gospel pericopes. As a matter of fact, the
very first paper presented at the JS was Eugene Boring's essay on the
historical-critical method entitled: "Criteria of Authenticity: the
Lucan Beatitudes as a Test Case" (FORUM 1,4 pp. 3-38). This was followed
by papers on methodology by Crossan, Vernon Robbins & others. But in the
end there was unanimous agreement that the best method for measuring
consensus was to let consensus on methodology emerge in the course of
To prevent an endless debate on the semantics of "methodology" let me
just quote my trusty Random House Dictionary's definition of that term:
"A set of methods, principles and rules for regulating a given
The set of methods, principles and rules used by the JS were those that
have developed over centuries of historical criticism of biblical texts,
so I fail to see in what sense you can claim that the JS was
> >I could accept a critique of JS
> >methodology from Steve Davies or anyone else who had been involved in JS
>I did not mean to imply that only participants were qualified to
> Wow. Only JS participants are qualified to comment on its practices.
> Now *there's* a foolproof methodology. How could it ever be broken?
critique the JS, only that any critics should have familiarity with what
they criticize. As a charter member of the JS I know that there have
often been things that deserve criticism & correction. But your
categoric generalizations did not strike me as particularly well
informed about JS procedures. Forgive me, if I was mistaken. But for the
past 13 years I have heard too much unfounded criticism by muckrakers,
so that I've developed a rather low tolerance for this type of thing.
P.S. Hope you have a good vacation.
Mahlon H. Smith,
Department of Religion
New Brunswick NJ
- Jack Kilmon wrote:
>An absolutely correct assessment.
> I don't think any member of the JS would claim that all the criteria
> used were foolproof or that certain genuinely Yeshuine sayings did not
> fall through
> and certain non-Yeshuine sayings made the grade.
> I don't think thePrecisely! The JS never represented its work as the final word on
> finished product as represented by 5G should be considered final and
> debate can continue by other scholars on the various "colors." The
> point is a groundwork has been laid where before there was only
anything. It is always presented it as a capsule summary of collegial
reasoning & judgment at a particular moment in time. We reconsidered &
altered some votes. And if we had the time, money & stamina to do the
whole thing over I dare say that many more of our earlier decisions
would come out somewhat differently. But we grow old & will be content
if we have involved more people (both scholars & laypersons) in
well-informed historical assessment of the Jesus tradition.
Mahlon H. Smith,
Department of Religion
New Brunswick NJ