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history vs. theology

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  • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
    Dear Ryan, I wonder why do you insist on playing these games? Why are you being so evasive? I ve asked you some specific questions in order to clarify your
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 5, 1998
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      Dear Ryan,

      I wonder why do you insist on playing these games? Why are you being so
      evasive? I've asked you some specific questions in order to clarify your
      basic approach to these problems. I asked these questions for a reason. So
      why are you neglecting to reply to them?

      Do you still not understand? The reason I wanted you to clarify your basic
      approach is because there's a difference between doing theology and doing
      objective historical scholarship. There's a difference between
      apologetics, which is theology, and historical scholarship. If you want to
      do theology on this list, I think you're in the wrong place. If you wish
      to do history, it is only fair that you should clarify honestly your basic
      methodological approach to studying the early history of Christian
      religion. It is essential to know if you accept the basic principles on
      which historical scholarship should be based. E.g. has there been
      historical evolution in Christian faith? You have not answered these
      questions, so it does seem like you're being evasive.

      Again, please answer these questions I've asked you.

      Yesterday, you've offered more of your customary "harmonizations", which
      is the standard activity of the apologists/theologians. This has little or
      nothing to do with honest historical scholarship, so I don't even feel I
      need to reply to them in detail.

      I feel like my appeals to you are falling on deaf ears. As I've said
      before, historians are not interested in harmonizations, in smoothing over
      apparent discrepancies in biblical texts -- only the theologians are,
      especially the theologians of a conservative/fundamentalist kind. OTOH,
      historians are interested in explaining _historically_ the apparent
      contradictions in biblical texts. So far, in your continuing evasions, you
      have not even answered honestly if you accept that there are many basic
      contradictions in biblical texts. If you don't accept this, then, I'm
      afraid, we have nothing to talk about. Because I, along, I'm sure, with
      the majority of Crosstalkers, will consider the refusal to accept the
      above as basically dishonest. If you don't see it this way then WE'RE NOT
      SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE, and, hence, no meaningful discussion can
      result.

      If apologetics and theology is all that you're interested in, I don't see
      why should I even bother to continue talking with you. My time will be
      better spent with other historians. Perhaps you will find other
      like-minded theologians like Mr. Pinard, for example, to discuss these
      matters with, but I should advise you that, in my understanding, this will
      be off-topic for this list.

      You're not playing a fair game, Ryan. So please take some tike to consider
      these matters carefully.

      Regards,

      Yuri.
    • Ragu1997@aol.com
      First of all, your string name is loaded. You assume that _anything_ theological goes against history. That is simply postulated. I want evidence for that
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 5, 1998
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        First of all, your string name is loaded. You assume that _anything_
        theological goes against history. That is simply postulated. I want evidence
        for that claim. You apparently wish to shortcut the historical method by
        pitting 'history vs me'. (ie, "See, my brand of 'history' rejects everything
        Ryan says a priori.")

        Anyhow, In a message dated 98-06-05 14:24:30 EDT, y.kuchinsky@...
        writes:

        <<
        You're not playing a fair game, Ryan. So please take some tike to consider
        these matters carefully.
        >>

        Yuri--I am doing no more than giving my thoughts on the historicity of the
        burial. There is no need to bring up any more than that. As for questions like
        'Are their contradictions in the Bible?' we can look at individually assumed
        contradictions and see if they really stand. Unless you hold to inspiration,
        it is reasonable to treat the text as though there are _some_ contradictions,
        as there are in about any large body of works, but this does not mean that
        every single variation in wording in the text is a sign of a number of various
        traditions. What I have a problem with is that you bring up the proposed
        contradictions in order to knock down strawmen, and many of the
        "contradictions" are contrived or read into the text. Some, of course, are
        very justified; some come only from reading something into the text.

        What I am saying is, okay, let's treat the texts as if some contradictions are
        fair game, indeed, expected, as we all do, and see if we can still pull a
        historical tradition out of these writings, as we could with any other
        historical body of works. This is what most scholars have done in the case of
        the burial; this is all I ask you to do.

        I suppose that you, OTOH, wish to approach the texts as if every minor
        divergence is a sign of some sort of legend. The problem is that this is
        historically unjustifiable. To see where that methodology will lead you if
        applied consistently, see, for example,
        http://www.jude3.org/resources/JPH_HICA.html , how this would work with modern
        biographies of Abraham Lincoln. The result is, IMO, rather humorous.

        As for your ideas about how history works, you assume that when I make a claim
        like, "Joe buried Jesus" that this is some ahistorical claim(???). On the
        contrary, it is _only_ a historical claim; our beloved theologians only see
        something _behind_ that claim. I don't know about you, but I've never seen it
        written anywhere in the critical historical methodology handbooks that "Any
        claim which might potentially have theological implications must be
        disregarded."

        awaiting a historical argument,
        Ryan
        http://members.xoom.com/Ragu1997/index.htm
      • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
        ... It s thread name, Ryan. ... Not at all. ... There s a need for you to clarify your methodological assumptions. Because if you wish to do theology under the
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 6, 1998
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          On Fri, 5 Jun 1998 Ragu1997@... wrote:

          > First of all, your string name is loaded.

          It's thread name, Ryan.

          > You assume that _anything_
          > theological goes against history.

          Not at all.

          ...

          > Yuri--I am doing no more than giving my thoughts on the historicity of
          > the burial. There is no need to bring up any more than that.

          There's a need for you to clarify your methodological assumptions. Because
          if you wish to do theology under the guise of history, this will be a
          problem.

          > As for
          > questions like 'Are their contradictions in the Bible?' we can look at
          > individually assumed contradictions and see if they really stand. Unless
          > you hold to inspiration, it is reasonable to treat the text as though
          > there are _some_ contradictions, as there are in about any large body of
          > works,

          Well, I'm satisfied with this, up to a point.

          > but this does not mean that every single variation in wording in
          > the text is a sign of a number of various traditions.

          I didn't say so.

          > What I have a
          > problem with is that you bring up the proposed contradictions in order
          > to knock down strawmen,

          Not at all.

          > and many of the "contradictions" are contrived
          > or read into the text.

          I disagree.

          > Some, of course, are very justified; some come
          > only from reading something into the text.

          Fine with me. Just show me where I read anything into the text.

          ...

          > I suppose that you, OTOH, wish to approach the texts as if every minor
          > divergence is a sign of some sort of legend.

          Every minor divergence must be considered carefully.

          ...

          > As for your ideas about how history works, you assume that when I make a
          > claim like, "Joe buried Jesus" that this is some ahistorical claim(???).

          I maintain this event is ahistorical.

          > On the contrary, it is _only_ a historical claim; our beloved
          > theologians only see something _behind_ that claim. I don't know about
          > you, but I've never seen it written anywhere in the critical historical
          > methodology handbooks that "Any claim which might potentially have
          > theological implications must be disregarded."

          I never said this.

          Meanwhile, you still did not clarify whether or not you accept that there
          was historical evolution in Christian faith. This is one of the most
          obvious fundamentalist false myths. Fundamentalists maintain that the True
          Faith is Unchangeable, and Always the Same. This goes against the
          historical facts, and against basic sociological theory. Please clarify
          your position on this.

          Yes, my friend, there's indeed a big difference between theology and
          history. I'm sorry you've not been aware of this.

          I've been on this list a lot longer than you, so you simply have no idea
          to what extent this issue has been debated here before over the years by
          various posters. I don't think many Crosstalkers have great doubts about
          this question. And I don't really feel like getting engaged in this debate
          now. Been there, done that... And Mike is doing a good job of it anyway...

          Please understand that I, myself, like most people here, have read
          hundreds of books on this subject, and considered it very extensively over
          the years. You don't have this advantage. And this should reflect in your
          attitude, but unfortunately it doesn't. It should, Ryan, it should.

          Your style is very confrontational. You came on this list like
          Gangbusters, like we've all been sleeping here, and you came to wake us
          up, or something. And this sort of an attitude can get annoying. So this
          is the reason my responses have been sharper than they could have been.

          Obviously, because of your age, people on the list, myself included, tend
          to be sympathetic towards you. You have this advantage. I certainly don't
          wish to be seen as picking on someone like you, who is basically a
          sympathetic human being. This brings me little credit, that's for sure.
          But I just felt these issues needed to be addressed.

          You just have to realize that your types of views may be offensive to a
          lot of people here. But because of your age and personality, you tend to
          be getting away with it. Things are forgiven you much easier than they
          would have been if spoken by someone else, by a more representative
          right-wing apologist. But beware that this advantage you have can wear
          thin eventually...

          I respect your obvious intelligence and enthusiasm. My purpose in the end
          is to help you open your mind, just a little bit. So try to adjust your
          attitude to be more accommodating to other views. And you should not try
          to reinvent the wheel. Theology vs. history is a very old debate.
          Familiarize yourself with previous literature on the subject. It doesn't
          seem like you have done it yet.

          Regards,

          Yuri.
        • Mike Grondin
          ... There must be a word for this syndrome, which is common to newbies, and from which I myself suffered (God, I hope I ve gotten over it!). True, the words
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 6, 1998
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            Yuri writes to Ryan:
            > Your style is very confrontational. You came on this list like
            > Gangbusters, like we've all been sleeping here, and you came to wake
            > us up, or something. And this sort of an attitude can get annoying.
            > So this is the reason my responses have been sharper than they could
            > have been.

            There must be a word for this syndrome, which is common to newbies, and
            from which I myself suffered (God, I hope I've gotten over it!). True,
            the words one chooses to use do carry a certain "attitude" or "tone"
            with them, which is why we must be careful in choosing our words. But
            if Ryan's "style" is confrontational, he's certainly not alone in
            this, my friend.

            Yuri to Ryan:
            > There's a need for you to clarify your methodological assumptions.
            > Because if you wish to do theology under the guise of history, this
            > will be a problem.

            What you fail to appreciate, Yuri, is that Ryan doesn't think of himself
            as doing "theology under the guise of history", nor have you succeeded
            in showing him that, contrary to what he himself thinks, that is in fact
            what he is doing. Therefore, your challenge that he "clarify [his]
            methodological assumptions" is putting the cart before the horse.

            Let's take one example: Ryan has said several times that he is not an
            inerrantist. I take him at his word. We cannot concentrate on the one
            issue of the burial and say that that is evidence of inerrantism - else
            I myself (much to my amazement) would be thought guilty. Certainly,
            Ryan, because of his background, has a tendency to try to find agreement
            between disparate accounts, but this does not imply that he will
            necessarily do so WRT every issue. We all do the best we can with what
            we have. Some of us have more than others, but we do less with it, and
            vice-versa.

            Yuri to Ryan:
            > Meanwhile, you still did not clarify whether or not you accept that
            > there was historical evolution in Christian faith.

            I would expect Ryan to ignore this challenge, Yuri, unless you can be
            more specific about what historical developments you're talking about.
            Then we can ask Ryan whether or not he agrees about those developments.
            I assume that he would agree that Christian theology developed over
            time, because I assume that he's not really a "fundamentalist" at heart.
            ----------------------------------------------------------------------

            Now, on the positive side, perhaps I can give you fellows something to
            work on that is not so near-and-dear to your hearts, and which may thus
            serve to shed more light on your respective positions than the burial
            issue has so far done. I address this first to Ryan:

            The Synoptics agree that one "Simon of Cyrene" helped Yeshu carry his
            cross. But John mentions no such person - indeed, he says:

            > ... he [Yeshu] went out, carrying his own cross ... (Jn 19:17)

            What do you make of this apparent contradiction, bearing in mind also
            the general difference in the way that John and the synoptics present
            the person Yeshu?

            Mike G.
          • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
            ... Well, Mike, you may note that I didn t say he did it. I just said that if he wanted to do it, this would be a problem. ... Not at all. All scholars have a
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 7, 1998
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              On Sat, 6 Jun 1998, Mike Grondin wrote:
              > Yuri to Ryan:

              > > There's a need for you to clarify your methodological assumptions.
              > > Because if you wish to do theology under the guise of history, this
              > > will be a problem.
              >
              > What you fail to appreciate, Yuri, is that Ryan doesn't think of himself
              > as doing "theology under the guise of history", nor have you succeeded
              > in showing him that, contrary to what he himself thinks, that is in fact
              > what he is doing.

              Well, Mike, you may note that I didn't say he did it. I just said that if
              he wanted to do it, this would be a problem.

              > Therefore, your challenge that he "clarify [his]
              > methodological assumptions" is putting the cart before the horse.

              Not at all. All scholars have a duty to be clear about their
              methodological assumptions. I've asked him specific questions to help him
              do this.

              > Let's take one example: Ryan has said several times that he is not an
              > inerrantist. I take him at his word. We cannot concentrate on the one
              > issue of the burial and say that that is evidence of inerrantism - else
              > I myself (much to my amazement) would be thought guilty. Certainly,
              > Ryan, because of his background, has a tendency to try to find agreement
              > between disparate accounts, but this does not imply that he will
              > necessarily do so WRT every issue. We all do the best we can with what
              > we have. Some of us have more than others, but we do less with it, and
              > vice-versa.

              But we only clarified that he's not an inerrantist because I've asked him
              about this specifically. So all I'm really asking for is clarity.

              > Yuri to Ryan:
              > > Meanwhile, you still did not clarify whether or not you accept that
              > > there was historical evolution in Christian faith.
              >
              > I would expect Ryan to ignore this challenge, Yuri,

              I don't understand why.

              > unless you can be more specific about what historical developments
              > you're talking about.

              Not necessary. I merely seek to establish if he accepts the very idea of
              the evolution of the dogma. Fundies generally reject this idea.

              > Then we can ask Ryan whether or not he agrees about those developments.
              > I assume that he would agree that Christian theology developed over
              > time, because I assume that he's not really a "fundamentalist" at heart.

              I'm curious to see if your assumption will bear itself out.

              The reason I've asked him to clarify whether or not he accepts that there
              was historical evolution in Christian faith is simple. We're discussing
              the historicity of the tomb stories. I'm saying that the tomb stories were
              added later as the result of the evolution of the dogma, and I'm giving my
              arguments pro. But if Ryan rejects the _very idea_ of the evolution of the
              dogma, then my task is futile from the start. Why should I even try to
              argue this matter with him if he's already decided that there was no
              evolution -- none? Then the whole argument becomes pointless, and I don't
              want to waste my time for nothing.

              But, nevertheless, I can ask Ryan about one specific example that most
              scholars think is a late addition to the Creed. The Immaculate Conception.
              Was it, or was it not, a later addition? Perhaps Ryan will clarify his
              view on this?

              Regards,

              Yuri.

              Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku UPDATED

              Reality is that which, when you stop believing
              in it, doesn't go away -=O=- Philip K. Dick
            • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
              I m putting this under a separate thread name. Perhaps this example will be a useful one for Ryan to clarify his methodology further. Since Ryan has been very
              Message 6 of 8 , Jun 7, 1998
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                I'm putting this under a separate thread name. Perhaps this example will
                be a useful one for Ryan to clarify his methodology further. Since Ryan
                has been very critical and negative about other's views, it is only fair
                that he should make his own views clear in the positive sense. To
                criticise is easy, much easier than to offer your own explanation of
                difficult passages...

                On Sat, 6 Jun 1998, Mike Grondin wrote:

                ...

                > Now, on the positive side, perhaps I can give you fellows something to
                > work on that is not so near-and-dear to your hearts, and which may thus
                > serve to shed more light on your respective positions than the burial
                > issue has so far done. I address this first to Ryan:
                >
                > The Synoptics agree that one "Simon of Cyrene" helped Yeshu carry his
                > cross. But John mentions no such person - indeed, he says:
                >
                > > ... he [Yeshu] went out, carrying his own cross ... (Jn 19:17)
                >
                > What do you make of this apparent contradiction, bearing in mind also
                > the general difference in the way that John and the synoptics present
                > the person Yeshu?

                In my own view, there are probably two reasons Jn changed the story, and
                made Jesus carry his own cross. First, to make Christ to be in complete
                control of the whole process of his own crucifixion. And second, as
                suggested by Loisy, to combat certain heretic ideas. You see, certain
                gnostics, e.g. Basilides, maintained that Simon was crucified instead of
                Jesus. So getting Simon out of the picture would have helped to dampen
                that concept.

                Regards,

                Yuri.

                Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku UPDATED

                Reality is that which, when you stop believing
                in it, doesn't go away -=O=- Philip K. Dick
              • mjost@juno.com
                ... Conception. ... I don t remember the Immaculate Conception being part of any historic creed. I was declared dogma by the Pope in the mid-nineteenth
                Message 7 of 8 , Jun 9, 1998
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                  Yuri wrote:

                  >But, nevertheless, I can ask Ryan about one specific example that most
                  >scholars think is a late addition to the Creed. The Immaculate
                  Conception.
                  >Was it, or was it not, a later addition? Perhaps Ryan will clarify his
                  >view on this?

                  I don't remember the "Immaculate Conception" being part of any historic
                  creed. I was declared dogma by the Pope in the mid-nineteenth century at
                  the same time he was declared infallible. It has to do with Mary's
                  conception, not Jesus'. Are you referring to the Virgin Conception of
                  Jesus (which is late in terms of NT thought)?

                  Please clarify.


                  Michael Jost, mjost@... [text only], mjost@... [text and
                  attachments]

                  "Life is what happens while you are making other plans." -- John Lennon

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                • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
                  ... Exactly so, Michael, This is what I meant to say. Sorry for the confusion. Yuri.
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jun 9, 1998
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                    On Tue, 9 Jun 1998 mjost@... wrote:
                    > Yuri wrote:
                    >
                    > >But, nevertheless, I can ask Ryan about one specific example that most
                    > >scholars think is a late addition to the Creed. The Immaculate
                    > Conception.
                    > >Was it, or was it not, a later addition? Perhaps Ryan will clarify his
                    > >view on this?
                    >
                    > I don't remember the "Immaculate Conception" being part of any historic
                    > creed. I was declared dogma by the Pope in the mid-nineteenth century at
                    > the same time he was declared infallible. It has to do with Mary's
                    > conception, not Jesus'. Are you referring to the Virgin Conception of
                    > Jesus (which is late in terms of NT thought)?

                    Exactly so, Michael,

                    This is what I meant to say. Sorry for the confusion.

                    Yuri.
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