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Re: Schonfield, sales, and scholarship

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  • Tom Simms
    ... [... snip ... this gun nicely spiked by Mike Grondin ...] ... You must admit HBHG & DSSD did more to acquaint the public with Religious Issues,
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 3, 1998
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      On Thu, 02 Jul 1998 22:13:18 +0900, anneq@... writes:
      >At 22:15 1/07/98 -0700, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
      >>> THEY had not sold over 3 Million
      >>> copies of just one on his books and over a million for several others...
      >>Tom,
      >>You make this point frequently, and presumably in order to show that
      >>Schonfield was a scholarly force to be reckoned with.

      [... snip ... this gun nicely spiked by Mike Grondin ...]

      >>... All multiple sales show in
      >>this (and possibly Shonfield's) instance is that there's a gullible
      >>public out there and that sensationalism sells.
      >>
      >>Yours,
      >>
      >>Jeffrey Gibson
      >>--
      >Am I alone in feeling that Schonfield is the progentitor of a type of
      >popular thinking within 'theological' ranks? I've discovered that I can
      >almost determine the type of book by reading the bibliography. If it lists
      >Schonfield's 'The Passover Plot', it will be full of non-othodox
      >statements. Books falling into this catagory include 'The Holy Blood and
      >the Holy Grail' or the 'Dead Sea Scrolls Deception'

      You must admit HBHG & DSSD did more to acquaint the public with
      Religious Issues, particularly Cardinal Ratzinger's lockup of the
      Dead Sea Scrolls, than all the mewlings of academics who like sheep
      let that imprisonment take place. Moreover, the Baigent, Leigh &
      Lincoln books have been for many people from other disciplines a
      fast way to get up to speed on modern research. To quote Mike,
      "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." I am sure this is correct. The putting
      down of such books rather than dealing with the issues they raise
      or scoffing at them is academic snobbery.


      and then there is
      >Barbara Thiering's 'Jesus the Man' and its sequels. Any book not listing
      >one of these books in its bibliography tends to have more conservative
      >thoughts.

      Well, of course! Why else write them?

      >Perhaps it is the idea that there is something hidden or to
      >quote logium 17 GTH, "Jesus said, 'I shall give you what no eye has seen
      >and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never
      >occurred to the human mind.'" People like the idea of exclusivity or
      >scandal. This is what sells books.

      Are you against book sales? Something has to carry the freight of
      all the academic "on the record" stuff that Glazes Eyes Over. Most
      presses do academic publishing as fill-in. Crosstalk has become a
      morass of views of text analyses. Yet the same crowd can't even do
      their own researching the Archives. Deliver me!


      >As you write of the dependence or independence of Thomas, how do you
      >classify logium 102? Jesus said, "Woe to the pharisees, for they are like
      >a dog sleeping the mager of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he let
      >the oxen eat." This is a fable usually attributed to Aesop! Who wrote it
      >first? A number of the fables we attribute to Aesop are said to have been
      >written during the first half of the first century ACE.

      Now THAT"S the best thing in your post. We tried to dig into these
      correspondences but never did. I keep mentioning how and when
      Petronius knew of the teachings of Jesus, a point allowing early
      datings of all the accounts. What's the use?

      Tom Simms
    • Lewis Reich
      ... Neither Benjamin Disraeli nor Barry Goldwater can properly be said to have done a number . Disraeli was baptized by his father at a young age when he
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 3, 1998
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        On 3 Jul 98, at 8:30, Tom Simms wrote:

        > Oh? so he did the Goldwater number after all...well, well.

        Neither Benjamin Disraeli nor Barry Goldwater can properly be said to
        have "done a number". Disraeli was baptized by his father at a young
        age when he himself could hardly be said to have engineered it as a
        stratagem. Barry Goldwater's father, Baron, married an Episcopalian. By
        Jewish religious law he was not Jewish, and neither was his upbringing.

        Lewis
      • Mahlon H. Smith
        ... Mike, Tom, et al: I am not intimate enough with HJS & his detractors to give a definitive explanation of his shunning by NT scholars. But my own
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 3, 1998
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          Mike Grondin wrote:

          > 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, Tom, et al:

          I am not intimate enough with HJS & his detractors to give a definitive
          explanation of his shunning by NT scholars. But my own neo-Orthodox
          education in the 60s & experience for the past dozen+ years in the JS
          enables me to make an educated guess.

          First of all, HJS's work had the character of a public expose. And
          conservative scholars have a distinct distaste for having their privates
          printed on the cover of the Daily News where they can be oggled by every
          commuter. Thus, the knee-jerk reaction of academics in the case of both
          HJS & the JS was to cover their bare bottoms. If HJS's theses had been
          published in a form that was unattractive to average readers, with
          learned comments on traditional sources & other scholars' theses, I am
          pretty certain it would have had its advocates in academic circles, just
          as Crossan does. Crossan could get away with publishing his
          *Revolutionary Biography* because he first published his massive
          scholarly *HJ: Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant* which few
          non-scholars would have the patience to wade through. Crossan learned
          from HJS's case.

          Second, orthodox forces controlled more academic castles in the 60s than
          they do today. So, there was always an ample supply of sharpshooters to
          pick off anyone who attempted a siege or lead a defection. And several
          of them were skilled popularizers themselves. No sooner had SGF Brandon
          published his massive scholarly argument for Jesus the Zealot than Oscar
          Cullmann undercut him with a lucid common-sense popular tract that made
          such a hypothesis sound ridiculous. So, many like me read Cullmann first
          & never bothered reading Brandon, at least not until his book was long
          out of print. Morton Smith's Jesus the Magician met a similar fate. JAT
          Robinson escaped only because he abandoned his *Honest to God* campaign
          to become spokesman for the Anglican right. But his championship of
          radical theses in that direction (e.g., The Priority of John) eventually
          discredited him with moderate scholars.

          Had Bob Funk published his *Honest to Jesus* before convening a seminar
          of academic colleagues to debate the issues in public, I bet he would
          have been effectively marginalized by the likes of LT Johnson, B
          Witherington, & NT Wright: all skilled in non-academic public debate.
          Funk's decision to serve as interpreter of the JS until our research was
          complete was a brilliant tactical ploy in the battle of the media. The
          spectacle of a group of scholars doing what scholars are supposed to do
          & reaching a relative "consensus" (gotta qualify that word again) on
          conclusions that are not part of the "tradition" familiar to people in
          the pews, has enabled the JS to withstand the slings & arrows &
          outrageous barbs of individual elitists. For an individual radical can
          easily be dismissed as a kook; but polls are always an effective tool
          for influencing public opinion. And so far the JS critics have not been
          very adept in organizing their own.

          In the 50s & 60s the cracks in the (neo)orthodox fortress of infallible
          biblical truth were already quite evident to anyone within academia (as
          I was). The castle almost crumbled when the 1964 Drew Colloquium (which
          I helped host during my senior year as a seminarian) spawned the Death
          of God theology. But it weathered that storm when the Death of God
          theologians decided to all go their separate ways. The strategic mistake
          of critical scholars like HS, Morton Smith & SGF Brandon is that they
          preferred to play the role of David single-handedly challenging the
          Philistines, than to pool their resources in a common project that
          respected their different viewpoints. The latter strategy is largely
          responsible for the JS's longevity. Funk was wise enough to realize that
          it's relatively easy to swat one gad-fly; it's a lot harder to eliminate
          a swarm of hornets.

          Shalom!

          Mahlon

          --

          *********************

          Mahlon H. Smith,
          Associate Professor
          Department of Religion
          Rutgers University
          New Brunswick NJ

          http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
        • Anne Quast
          ... I m not against book sales. I think I m just against the idea that a book needs to contain some sort of scandal (or dare I say sex) in order to sell. A
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 3, 1998
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            >
            >>Perhaps it is the idea that there is something hidden or to
            >>quote logium 17 GTH, "Jesus said, 'I shall give you what no eye has seen
            >>and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never
            >>occurred to the human mind.'" People like the idea of exclusivity or
            >>scandal. This is what sells books.
            >

            > Are you against book sales? Something has to carry the freight of
            > all the academic "on the record" stuff that Glazes Eyes Over. Most
            > presses do academic publishing as fill-in. Crosstalk has become a
            > morass of views of text analyses. Yet the same crowd can't even do
            > their own researching the Archives. Deliver me!


            I'm not against book sales. I think I'm just against the idea that a book
            needs to contain some sort of scandal (or dare I say sex) in order to sell.
            A book must also be readable. I have problems with Barbara Thierings
            "Jesus the Man" since almost two-thirds of it is appendices. It's almost
            as bad as "James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher" where almost half of each
            page is taken up with footnotes. This makes it difficult to read.

            >
            >>As you write of the dependence or independence of Thomas, how do you
            >>classify logium 102? Jesus said, "Woe to the pharisees, for they are like
            >>a dog sleeping the mager of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he let
            >>the oxen eat." This is a fable usually attributed to Aesop! Who wrote it
            >>first? A number of the fables we attribute to Aesop are said to have been
            >>written during the first half of the first century ACE.
            >
            > Now THAT"S the best thing in your post. We tried to dig into these
            > correspondences but never did. I keep mentioning how and when
            > Petronius knew of the teachings of Jesus, a point allowing early
            > datings of all the accounts. What's the use?
            >
            Some of my research states that a number of the fables were written during
            the first part of the first century ACE. They were satires on the
            political situation in Rome. Does the dog-in-the-manger fit here?
          • Mike Grondin
            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
            Message 5 of 11 , 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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