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Re: [XTalk] Re: Geography Error in Mark 11:1

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  • Zeba Crook
    James, aka Bede wrote ... Given that Mark (et al) did very probably write their accounts for a few local Jesus types, do you think he might actually be
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 5, 2004
      James,

      aka Bede wrote

      >It's at times like this that I real feel for the poor Gospel authors. They wrote down their stuff for the benefit of a few fellow
      >Jesus types and now their works are turned upside down and the
      >slightest mistake or inconsistancy subject to research papers.
      >
      Given that Mark (et al) did very probably write their accounts for a few
      local Jesus types, do you think he might actually be honoured that
      people care enough to this long after the fact to go through it with a
      fine tooth comb?

      >Mark made a slight mistake here. I am not sure it tells us anything
      >except that Mark made a mistake (which we all do). Only taken with a
      >lot more evidence could this be taken as part of a case that Mark
      >didn't know the area. If I say that we headed to Bristol from London
      >and stopped off at Bath and Swindon, I do not expect anyone to pick
      >up on the fact that Bath is nearer to Bristol than Swindon. If they
      >did, I'd suggest they got out doors more often.
      >
      Do you mean to suggest that if people got outside more, the entire
      discipline of NT studies, which is, inexplicably, grounded in the
      details, would come crumbling down? I'm not sure it was your intent,
      but does it not seem this is the sort of pointless sentiment that
      belittles and marginalises academic scholarship, which in general
      requires close and detailed reading of its material (regardless of the
      field)?

      >While most liberal scholars don't accept divine inspiration, they
      >continue to labour under the impression that every jot and tittle in
      >the NT must have some reason for it. And for what it's worth,
      >Guthrie is clutching at straws when he should just shrug.
      >
      I think this is more a caricature than an accurate depiction. It seems
      one has two options: one can note the mistake and ignore it, or one can
      assume Mark knew his geography and was making a theological point. It
      hardly seems obvious that one of these is an inherently superior
      approach than the other.

      Cheers,

      Zeb
      --

      Zeba A. Crook

      Assistant Professor

      Religion and Classics

      2a Paterson Hall

      Carleton University

      1125 Colonel By Drive

      Ottawa, Ontario

      K1S 5B6

      613-520-2600, ext. 2276

      www.carleton.ca/~zcrook




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bede
      Zeba takes me to task, quite reasonably, but I can only take my chastisement up to a point. My criticism was that NT studies, perhaps more than many other
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 8, 2004
        Zeba takes me to task, quite reasonably, but I can only take my
        chastisement up to a point. My criticism was that NT studies,
        perhaps more than many other areas of academic enquiry, does zero
        into the smallest details and looks for significance in them that
        probably (IMHO) does not exist.

        Zeb says (perhaps to restate my position):

        "It seems one has two options: one can note the mistake and ignore
        it, or one can assume Mark knew his geography and was making a
        theological point. It hardly seems obvious that one of these is an
        inherently superior approach than the other."

        I can't agree with the last sentence. I would suggest that a mistake
        (either through carelessness or ignorance) is far more likely than a
        theological point. So much more likely, in fact, that the assumption
        of NT studies that nearly every iota has a theological reason (if you
        will excuse my hyperbole) is seriously misguided. Furthermore, this
        mindset leads scholars to look for levels of deliberate creativity in
        the NT writings that do not seem to be justified. Mark is elevated
        from a jumbled recorder of sermons strung into some sort of order to
        being a genius whose everyone word is loaded with theological import.

        I appreciate that my point of view is probably not very popular here
        so will go back to lurking. However, I do feel a valid contrast can
        be drawn between method in secular history and method in HJ studies.
        This might be due to the tight focus of HJ studies that makes it more
        difficult to carry out original research and hence ensures all the
        ground is gone over with a fine comb. This can be too much of a good
        thing.

        Yours

        James Hannam
        Pembroke College, Cambridge
      • Zeba Crook
        James, Thanks for this, and sorry for the delay. I ve been thinking a lot about your words. When I got your response, I thought, I understand now what you
        Message 3 of 8 , Aug 11, 2004
          James,

          Thanks for this, and sorry for the delay. I've been thinking a lot
          about your words. When I got your response, I thought, "I understand
          now what you mean," and I did not disagree. In theory I can agree that
          too much can be made of very little. But it does seem to be the nature
          of our discipline that often we have very little to work with, and yet
          our work must go on. You compared our field to secular history, I
          think, but I cannot believe we are the only field that has to make
          significant arguments out of insignificant details.

          But I have recently been writing on redaction criticism for a lecture,
          and was reminded how much of our discipline is based on attention to
          tiny detail. Matthew leaves a word out or adds a word to Mark, and we
          assume he did so deliberately. Again, we are faced with the dilemma you
          bring up: is the change deliberate (and therefore probative of
          something), or it is absentminded/thoughtless (and therefore probative
          of nothing).

          In the end, I think it is the plausibility of the argument that carries
          the greater weight, and not the significance of the detail (or data),
          and on that matter I think you are quite right that the inversion of
          town names and Mark's other geographical "issues" are more likely errors
          than theological arguments.

          Cheers,

          Zeb
          --

          Zeba A. Crook

          Assistant Professor

          Religion and Classics

          2a Paterson Hall

          Carleton University

          1125 Colonel By Drive

          Ottawa, Ontario

          K1S 5B6

          613-520-2600, ext. 2276

          www.carleton.ca/~zcrook




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Bob Schacht
          ... I have no opinion about Mark 11:1 regarding the significance of the inversion of the town names. However, regarding the issue of matters of details such as
          Message 4 of 8 , Aug 11, 2004
            At 06:57 AM 8/11/2004, Zeba wrote:
            >James,
            >
            >... In theory I can agree that too much can be made of very little. But
            >it does seem to be the nature of our discipline that often we have very
            >little to work with, and yet our work must go on. ...
            >
            >... I have recently been writing on redaction criticism for a lecture,
            >and was reminded how much of our discipline is based on attention to
            >tiny detail. Matthew leaves a word out or adds a word to Mark, and we
            >assume he did so deliberately. Again, we are faced with the dilemma you
            >bring up: is the change deliberate (and therefore probative of
            >something), or it is absentminded/thoughtless (and therefore probative
            >of nothing).
            >
            >In the end, I think it is the plausibility of the argument that carries
            >the greater weight, and not the significance of the detail (or data),
            >and on that matter I think you are quite right that the inversion of
            >town names and Mark's other geographical "issues" are more likely errors
            >than theological arguments.


            I have no opinion about Mark 11:1 regarding the significance of the
            inversion of the town names. However, regarding the issue of matters of
            details such as these, all conclusions are weak unless they fit a pattern.
            Thus, in the matter of inverted town names, we must ask questions such as,
            Does the author of Mark do this elsewhere? Does the author normally show
            care for geographical order? Is the author known to make theological points
            about geographical details?

            If there are no patterns such as these to go by, and if the town inversion
            in Mark 11:1 is sui generis, then basically we are in no position to judge
            what the author meant, or did not mean, by the inversion.

            IMHO, of course.
            Bob

            Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
            Northern Arizona University
            Flagstaff, AZ

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Zeba Crook
            Bob Schacht wrote:
            Message 5 of 8 , Aug 11, 2004
              Bob Schacht wrote:

              <<If there are no patterns such as these to go by, and if the town
              inversion in Mark 11:1 is sui generis, then basically we are in no
              position to judge what the author meant, or did not mean, by the inversion>>

              Bob,
              I would alter this only to say that the absence of patterns makes any
              argument speculative, but that we are still free to speculate, or to set
              up speculalative experiments: let us assume Mark knew his geography:
              can any sense be made of the inversion. We are in a position to judge,
              just not with certainty.

              Cheers,

              Zeb

              --

              Zeba A. Crook

              Assistant Professor

              Religion and Classics

              2a Paterson Hall

              Carleton University

              1125 Colonel By Drive

              Ottawa, Ontario

              K1S 5B6

              613-520-2600, ext. 2276

              www.carleton.ca/~zcrook




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Jacob Knee
              Just an initial report on the British New Testament Conference which took place in Edinburgh 2 - 4 September. If you have never been BNTC is an annual meeting
              Message 6 of 8 , Sep 4, 2004
                Just an initial report on the British New Testament Conference which took
                place in Edinburgh 2 - 4 September.

                If you have never been BNTC is an annual meeting of NT scholars largely from
                British universities, doctoral students, and a few interested amateurs (like
                me). It is relatively small (this year, I guess, around 175) - so it has a
                friendly and informal feel - with papers that are usually of high quality.

                There are 3 main speakers (this year Tom Wright, Bart Ehrman and Judith
                Lieu) along with smaller seminars focussed on more specific areas of the
                discipline. (For more details on this years program see
                http://www.ntgateway.com/bnts/)

                Tom Wright kicked things off with a feisty and provocative overview of
                perspectives on Paul - the old perspective, the new perspective and what he
                called the 'fresh' perspective (which included the emphasis on Paul and
                narrative, and the political Paul - amongst others). He gave a swingeing
                glance at Stephen Westerholm's recent book on Paul (Perspectives Old and New
                on Paul: The "Lutheran" Paul and His Critics) criticisng it for getting both
                old and new perspectives wrong. He noted in particular, I think, the lack of
                attention to the Reformed 'old perspective' on Paul, criticised Westerholm
                for labelling Cranfield a Lutheran and noted the absence of any discussion
                of 'imputed righteousness'. He reminded people that the new perspective took
                the form it did as a corrective reaction against the view that Judaism was a
                religion of 'works righteousness'.

                Tom was then around for much of the rest of the conference - goodness only
                knows where he finds time or energy to do all the things he does. One
                seminar took the chance to review with him his latest book on the
                resurrection. I attended one of its sessions. Prof. Larry Hurtado - gave a
                sympathetic and thought provoking paper. He said he was in basic agreement
                with Tom on many issues - but it would be boring just to say that - so had
                decided to pick out a couple of things which he wanted to hear more about
                from Tom. In particular he pointed to Tom's repeated emphasis on 'cognitive
                phenomena' - beliefs about Jesus or their verbal expression - but with
                apparently little to say about religious experience or practice. Wright's
                response was that he couldn't cover evrything in his book (which is already
                700+ pages long) and was sympathetic to Hurtado's work on cultic devotion to
                Jesus - and saw their work as, in many places, dovetailing together.

                In questions Tom was pushed a little on whether it might not help his work
                (which is explicitly an apologetic for the resurrection) if he were not to
                be open to distinguishing, even a little, elements in the resurrection
                narratives that probably are legendary. Mark Goodacre gave the example of
                the holy ones rising from the tombs in Matthew - widely thought to be
                Matthew's own addition to the crucifixion/resurrection story. But even here
                Tom was not prepared to give ground - he said all sorts of things were
                possible and that he wouldn't like to rule out that God could raise the dead
                in the way Matthew indicated. He went on to explain that the context into
                which his book is written are debates with some scholars in the USA - and
                that if he gave any ground, he opened the door to every aspect of the
                resurrection narratives been called legendary (by those he debates with in
                the States). I found it fascinating (and surprising) to see the extent to
                which not just the form but the content of his work is determined by those
                he debates with in the USA and also wondered whether it was a tactical error
                - since in his debates in the USA it presumably opens him to the (false, I
                think) charge that he is, in fact, a crypto-fundamentalist.

                I'll report more in the next day or two - but just a comment on delivery of
                papers. Reading from papers at conferences just does not work. By all means
                print it out - let your audience take it away or have it before hand - but
                have mercy on us - please do not just read it out! The best speakers -
                Wright, Ehrman - were people who knew what they wanted to say - had a clear
                argument to make - highlighted the most important points - included some
                jokes - gestured trowards but didn't get bogged down in the detail - and
                kept eye contact with their audience. Doing a written paper for a journal or
                a chapter in your thesis and delivering a spoken argument at a conference
                (or as a teacher) are very different skills. Your paper may be the most
                ground breaking research the world of NT has ever known - but if your
                audience is asleep (or wishing they were asleep) - no one is going to know
                about all your hard work.

                Best wishes,
                Jacob Knee
                (Cam, Glos.)
              • John E Staton
                Jacob, Sounds like a good conference. Wish I had been there. Went to a conference in May where Wright s sparring partner, Jimmy Dunn was speaking. He used
                Message 7 of 8 , Sep 5, 2004
                  Jacob,
                  Sounds like a good conference. Wish I had been there. Went to a
                  conference in May where Wright's sparring partner, Jimmy Dunn was speaking.
                  He used Powerpoint to great effect. I remember a remarkable animated scroll
                  illustrating a lecture on the "New Perspective" (one area where Dunn and
                  Wright agree, I believe).

                  Best Wishes
                  JOHN E STATON
                  Penistone, Sheffield UK
                  www.jestaton.org
                  jestaton@...
                • James Ernest
                  Thanks to Jacob Knee for this 3-part posting--very useful. ... James D. Ernest, Ph.D., Editor Baker Academic +1 616 891 5625 (office) jernest@BakerAcademic.com
                  Message 8 of 8 , Sep 8, 2004
                    Thanks to Jacob Knee for this 3-part posting--very useful.

                    --------------------------------
                    James D. Ernest, Ph.D., Editor
                    Baker Academic
                    +1 616 891 5625 (office)
                    jernest@...
                    http://www.BakerAcademic.com
                    --------------------------------
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