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Re: [XTalk] Hermeneutical Skepticism

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  • Ken Olson
    ... convenience, Jesus Remembered, p. 207n182, where he first states that Bailey regrets his overstatement re the Hogg traditions (after all, Bailey s article
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4 10:56 AM
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      On March 3, 2005 Rikk Watts wrote:

      >>Re Dunn's assessment of your work on Bailey, I note here for listers
      convenience, Jesus Remembered, p. 207n182, where he first states that Bailey
      regrets his overstatement re the Hogg traditions (after all, Bailey's
      article was not intended to be a rigorous scholarly work), and then
      continues "Weeden's further critique of Bailey's anecdotes and their
      significance, misses much of Bailey's point, is unduly censorious, and
      weakens Bailey's case hardly at all." Dunn is no slouch and I doubt he would
      put this out in the public sphere without due consideration. Ted, my
      parenthesis was not intended as a personal slight but instead as indicative
      of a concern that you might wish to address, and which concern I think is
      exemplified in the above. You may of course simply dismiss this but it
      seems to me that an overly skeptical approach only serves to mute what other
      good points you might make. It shouldn't hurt your case to give someone else
      the benefit of the doubt, and that includes Mark.<<

      Rikk,

      I had been trying to stay out of this one, but I think this part of what you
      said needs comment. If you want to criticize Ted for not allowing the
      possibilty that Jesus may have told his followers about his temptation, go
      right ahead. But I find your appeal to Dunn's authority to establish that
      Ted is excessively or unnecessarily skeptical with regards to Bailey to be
      unfounded. I think Ted, I, and several others have amply demonstrated the
      lack of foundation, and particularly the lack of documentation for the case
      Bailey makes. When this was pointed out to you, you appealed to Bailey's
      years of experience in the field. But spending decades in the Middle East
      is a poor substitute for employing basic scholarly methodologies like
      keeping records and verifying references at which Bailey signally failed.
      Conservative scholars of the NT frequently invoke the dictum that if an
      author is reliable where he can be checked, he is probably also reliable
      where he cannot be checked. In Bailey's case you and some others seem to
      feel that if an author is *unreliable* where he can be checked, he is
      probably *reliable* where he cannot be checked. Adding an appeal to Dunn's
      authority does little to enhance your position. If you want us to accept
      the statements that Dunn makes about either Bailey or Ted, please put
      forward evidence and argument to establish them.

      Now you are claiming that Bailey's article(s?) was not intended to be a
      rigorous scholarly work. What the heck do you mean by that? Were the
      editors of Themelios aware of this when they published it? Were we not
      meant to take the claims Bailey published to be true? Was Bailey in fact
      writing in some other genre than historical-critical scholarship? Did
      Wright or Dunn or you or Bailey himself in his two articles give us a hint
      of that? Was this fact acknowledged prior to the online seminar with Dunn
      and Ted's subsequent criticisms of Bailey? In fact, I can't find much
      acknowledgment of it even in Wright's or Dunn's or your more recent
      statements about Bailey's work. It looks to me as though people like you,
      Dunn, Wright and others took Bailey's articles to be rigorous scholarly
      works when in fact they were not and are now reluctant to admit how mistaken
      they were.

      In short, I found Dunn's dismissal of Ted's argument without providing
      counterargument to be irresponsible, and your appeal to Dunn's authority to
      bash Ted's level of skepticism in a different context even less so. In the
      post to which you are responding, Ted asked you (and not for the first time)
      to give us Bailey's full response to his criticisms. We'd all like to see
      what Bailey had to say so that we might judge it for ourselves. I'd also
      like to see to see you make a case in support of Bailey, beyond "Ted's too
      skeptical and James Dunn says so". Invoking the names of Dunn and Bailey is
      a totally inadequate substitute for serious evidence and argument. If
      you've got evidence or argument that backs up Bailey's case, please present
      it. If you don't, those evil skeptics that you so abhor with their nasty
      hermeneutic of suspicion may begin to suspect it's because you've got
      nothing. They might even take your rejection of Ted's criticisms of Bailey
      as more a sign of your excessive credulity with regard to arguments that
      support the historicity of the NT than to Ted's excessive skepticism toward
      the same. This is, as you say, not intended as a personal slight, but is a
      concern you may wish to address.

      RW: >>Finally, a hermeneutic of suspicion is a double-edged sword, and it
      seems to
      me that those who wish to live by such a sword, end up dying by it, as the
      true skeptic knows.<<

      Earlier in the this thread you gave The Infancy Gospel of Thomas as an
      example of a text that exhibits considerable "creativity". May I ask you to
      define what this "creativity" is and how you are able to identify it in the
      text?

      Best,

      Ken

      Kenneth A. Olson
      MA, History, University of Maryland
      PhD Student, Theology, University of Birmingham
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