Fw: [XTalk] Hermeneutical Skepticism: Unwarranted, (now) arguments from silence?
I noticed you had trouble locating my contribution of Febr 24. For
clarification of my previous reponse, I here add a copy:>>Bob Schacht:
>> Oh, pooh. I would "privilege" any historian of Mark's time theEric responded.
>> same way, accepting their accounts tentatively unless I had
>> specific grounds for doubting their veracity.....".
>"This nicely articulates what I was starting to feel after following thisResponse:
> discussion. If we treat all ancient sources with equal scepticism,
> that everything every ancient historian wrote was made up to score some
> rhetorical point, then we can know next to nothing about ancient history,
> and we are left with no means of critically assessing anything.
> I wonder if some of the statements Ted citing from ancient authors
> complaining of the work of historians could not have been equally
> rhetorical. Again, the very fact that some ancient authors are complaining
> that historians are liars would seem to indicate that some people in
> antiquity thought historians *ought* to respect the facts."....
As long as exegetes cannot agree on the literary genre of Mark as a haggadah
regarding the Judean nation and its Messiah, meant especially for liturgical
use and as
long as they regard the Gospel as a "bios", written by an "ancient"
historiographer, we cannot escape the bind we are in concerning the
insoluble dilemma whether Mark did or did not "respect the facts".
----- Original Message -----
From: "Karel Hanhart" <k.hanhart@...>
Sent: Saturday, March 05, 2005 4:19 PM
Subject: Re: [XTalk] Hermeneutical Skepticism: Unwarranted, (now) arguments
> Dear Rick,
> If I failed to answer you, my excuses. I do try to answer contributors as
> faithful as I can. Sometimes my messages have not come through, perhaps
> through my incompetence with computers or for other reasons. At other
> times contributors ignore my contributions altogether which is their
> perfect right in a list like this.
> You obviously have not studied my work on Mark's Gospel, - no one can be
> blamed for that either in the cacophony of NT scholars - but I did
> critique Bowman for not
> following through on his own premises.
> Am I correct in rephrasing your answer in terms of a denial that Mark
> wrote a Passover Haggadah? In that case I believe you should make clear
> what the alternative is. What do you think is the 'genre' of his writing?
> A Hellenistic bios? Moreover, you should also make clear whom you regard
> to be the author of 'kata Markon'.
> I take him to have been John Mark of Acts and the Epistles who in the
> aftermath of the trauma of 70 rewrote a Pesach Haggadah for continued
> liturgical use in the ecclesia.
> In that case Matthew is my first author, the first of in your words
> "unambiguous examples of an early interpreter of any of Jesus' mighty
> deeds who saw them (solely) as metaphors". I put 'solely' in brackets. For
> Mark was writing about the "deeds" of the historical Jesus but in a
> metaphorical way. In my book I made clear why the healing of the man with
> the shrivelled arm (or hand) symbolized a Samaritan. Historically I
> conclude tentatively that Jesus worked toward reconciliation between
> Judean and Samaritan, for this midrashic interpretation of the mirable
> matches with some of the parables of the historical Jesus.
> As to Matthew being the first interpreter of Mark, why not discuss
> Matthew's expansion of Mark's metaphorical 'opened monument' narrative?
> So I repeat my question: "What are your arguments against my Febr 24th
> reply?" to your legitimate challenging hermeneutical skepticism.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Rikk Watts" <rwatts@...>
> To: "xtalk" <email@example.com>
> Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 4:05 PM
> Subject: Re: [XTalk] Hermeneutical Skepticism: Unwarranted, (now)
> arguments from silence?
> Sorry Karel, but I'm not sure precisely what that post contained.
> However, the Passover Haggadah theory, as you would well know, is not new.
> John Bowman's 1965 volume being a particular example, and from what I
> it seems to me that the weaknesses that plagued his approach have not been
> addressed in your own proposal.
> But since we are asking for responses, not to be churlish, may I also
> out that a month earlier, namely Jan 28th and with respect to your theory
> that for Mark Jesus' mighty deeds were merely metaphors (in response to
> post of the same day), I asked if you could cite some unambiguous examples
> of an early interpreter of any of Jesus' mighty deeds who saw them solely
> metaphors (which strikes me, ironically given your comments below, as a
> somewhat modernist anachronism)? In other words, it seems to me that if
> there is no ancient interpreter who shares your view that these stories
> solely metaphors then either Mark was an utterly inadequate communicator
> didn't know his audience, or perhaps we have a single 21st century reader
> who ... well I think you get the point.
> Forgive me if I've overlooked your response to this request. But I've not
> seen anything yet. Perhaps we could make a deal: you respond to my earlier
> question and then I'll respond to your Feb 24th post (if you'll be kind
> enough to send me off-list a copy).
> On 4/3/05 12:20 AM, "Karel Hanhart" <K.Hanhart@...> wrote:
>> I too wish at times to combat extreme scepticism. The Gospels refer in
>> important way to the Jesus of history. However, I deny that Mark's aim
>> to provide historical, biographical information on Jesus. I would like to
>> hear your arguments concerning genre. I defend in my contribution of last
>> February 24. Mark never intended to write a biography at all. As a
>> Judean, he rewrote a known Christian Passover Haggadah in the wake of the
>> trauma of 70. Nearly one third of his Gospel deals with the season of
>> with 8,31; 9,31; 10, 33f as its main theme and the institution of the
>> Supper as its main semeion. What are your arguments against my Febr 24th
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Rikk Watts" <rwatts@...>
>> To: "xtalk" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 8:19 PM
>> Subject: Re: [XTalk] Hermeneutical Skepticism: Unwarranted, (now)
>> from silence?
>> Dear Ted,
>> Sorry about the delay in getting back. Once again, let me reiterate that
>> the primary issue was one point and one alone:
>>> [TJW] I responded to Bob on 2/14, addressing the issue of historicity
>>> following statement: "there is no reference or allusion anywhere in the
>>> canonical Gospels to suggest that Jesus ever revealed that he personally
>>> been tempted either in the desert or anywhere else. Then I want to know
>>> where this information came from. . . . How does Mark know that there
>>> the desert Jesus faced temptation?"
>> This, not classic criteria, was the issue. We agree that the nub of the
>> problem is Mark's silence. We disagree on what it signifies.
>> First, it seems to me to be a non sequitur to argue that because someone
>> does not tell us whence they got their information (especially when their
>> canons do not require them so to do) that therefore that information is
>> suspect. Indeed, what ancient historian ever operated as though this was
>> case? Hence my judgment, in spite of your denial, that your skepticism
>> ON THIS PARTICULAR ARGUMENT is both unreasonable and historically
>> Second, if there was then no expectation that Mark explicitly state that
>> Jesus himself had told his disciples in order for his story to be
>> then I would aver that such an absence does not constitute an argument
>> silence, but is instead evidence a shared presupposition of
>> When one makes a claim it is assumed that one is making the claim in good
>> faith, and hence, to keep this discussion grounded in the first century,
>> Seneca's complaint against people who abuse that faith. In this case the
>> silence is not neutral, and therefore this is not an argument from
>> I contend that to assume that Mark expects his readers to believe that
>> information came ultimately from Jesus is not at all "purely
>> but the presupposition of communication.
>> Third, this being the case however, I agree that to question such a
>> connection SOLELY on the basis of the argument above is indeed "pure
>> speculation." And further, it is not only itself a classic example of an
>> argument from silence (as you I think you agree) but, as argued above,
>> which runs against the expectations and assumptions of ancient readers.
>> This was the essence of my criticism.
>> I note that you also/later invoke the classic criteria of authenticity.
>> enough. But this was not the point I engaged, though we could discuss the
>> well-recognized problems of such criteria (e.g. multiple attestation only
>> indicates how many people believed a story and how early, not whether it
>> true or not; likewise that only one source knows of a story finally says
>> nothing about whether it is true or not, and more likely reflects the
>> redactional interests of authors working within the very limited
>> of a single roll and the vagaries of what actually of the presumably
>> considerable mass of oral tradition (e.g. John 21.25) is finally
>> to such a small compass). Likewise, you might fairly say you find
>> of Mark's account of Jesus' temptation unbelievable. But again, this was
>> the point I engaged.
>> Re Dunn's assessment of your work on Bailey, I note here for listers
>> convenience, Jesus Remembered, p. 207n182, where he first states that
>> 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
>> put this out in the public sphere without due consideration. Ted, my
>> parenthesis was not intended as a personal slight but instead as
>> 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
>> good points you might make. It shouldn't hurt your case to give someone
>> the benefit of the doubt, and that includes Mark.
>> Finally, a hermeneutic of suspicion is a double-edged sword, and it seems
>> me that those who wish to live by such a sword, end up dying by it, as
>> true skeptic knows.
>> On 1/3/05 3:09 PM, "Theodore Weeden" <Tweeden@...> wrote:
>>> "There is no such canon and I am not arguing for one. Of course, Jesus
>>> likely talked about a lot of things that were not remembered by his
>>> disciples, much less passed on in oral tradition. It is purely
>>> to argue from silence as to whether Jesus reported an experience in his
>>> and that that experience serves as the unreported basis for a historical
>>> event attributed to him, as it is also purely speculative to argue that
>>> event has no historical basis because there is no evidence that Jesus
>>> reflected upon such a personal event at one point with his disciples.
>>> latter may appear to be the position I have taken with respect to the
>>> temptation story. That is not really my intent. In making a judgment as
>>> whether some event or saying, for that matter, is authentic to the
>>> experience or teaching of the historical Jesus, I need as a
>>> critic to weigh all the evidence for or against such a possibility. In
>>> case of the temptation story, all I am saying is that those who suggest
>>> there lies behind the story is kernal of historical truth about an
>>> temptation of Jesus do not have, as far as I am aware, explicit or
>>> implicit evidence that Jesus reflected on such an experience at
>>> some later point with his disciples. To have such evidence would
>>> weigh in the favor of there being behind the story an authentic
>>> experience of Jesus. I think that datum is relevant and should
>>> be taken into consideration by those who pose that the temptation
>>> story is rooted in an actual personal experience of Jesus."
>>> I stand behind that statement, Rikk. In raising the issue of Jesus'
>>> reference to a personal experience of temptation, I was only applying
>>> widely accepted historical-critical methodological practice of trying to
>>> sort out what is historically authentic to the life of the historical
>>> And no more! If I am missing your point or have misunderstood your
>>> I would appreciate you let me know how that is the case.
>>>> This, as far as I can see, has nothing whatsoever to do with the
>>>> historicity of Mark per se. It is simply about whether, in this
>>>> particular demand, one is being unfair to Mark in terms
>>>> of first century expectations.
>>> Actually, it has a lot to do with the historicity of Mark. The issue,
>>> have come to see it, behind all this historical-critical dispute we are
>>> engaged in really is the issue regarding whether Mark's narrative
>>> is primarily and finally in historicity per se. In other words: Is it
>>> really Mark's intent to be an ancient historian, following the
>>> historiographic conventions expected of an ancient historial and tell
>>> *historical truth* about the historical Jesus? I do *not* think so. I
>>> not think Mark writes as an ancient historian, using the genre of an
>>> historian. Nor do I think that Mark expects his readers to think that
>>> writes as a historian. None of his readers, aware of the rhetorical
>>> convenstions and standards for historiographic compositions, would have
>>> Mark and thought that they were reading *history*. That is not to say
>>> Mark was not committed to telling the truth about Jesus. However, the
>>> he tells and is commited to is a different truth from *historical
>>> Therefore, I think it is unfair to Mark to assume that when he narrated
>>> temptation story he intended his readers or hearers, for that matter, to
>>> conclude that he was basing the story on a historical datum drawn from
>>> experience of the historical Jesus. I will explain in detail in a
>>> forthcoming post why I take this position.
>>>> (so Bailey/Dunn are largely irrelevant here).<
>>> From my perspective, Bailey and Dunn are very relevant to our
>>> differences and the dispute we have engaged over. For you introduced
>>> Bailey and Dunn into the discussion regarding the credibility of my
>>> hermeneutical arguments in your post of 2/18 when you stated: " If you'd
>>> instead said only that since I already suspect Mark of dishonesty (to
>>> the language of Seneca here) because of my reading of the passion
>>> and first and foremost the resurrection, then that's fair enough. But,
>>> reason I've picked up on this particular point is because I think it
>>> indicates that *overall your approach is marred by an unwarranted and
>>> unreasonable skepticism*, and it might just be this that results in few
>>> your colleagues being persuaded by the rest of your arguments. In other
>>> words, *sorry to put it so bluntly, we just don't think you are being
>>> (cf. Jimmy Dunn's remarks on your work in Jesus Remembered*; I suspect
>>> Byrskog would probably agree)" [emphasis: TJW].
>>> Rikk, in characterizing my overall hermeneutical approach as being
>>> unpersuasive to my colleagues because, as you put it, it "is marred by
>>> unwarranted and unreasonable skepticism" in my application of the
>>> hermeneutic of suspicion, you draw upon Dunn referentially and
>>> his criticism of my critique of Bailey's theory of informal controlled
>>> tradition as evidentiary support for this characterization of my
>>> hermeneutical approach. As I indicated in my response to you in my
>>> post of 2/24, I do not think that is a fair and balanced presentation of
>>> hermeneutic nor a fair allusion to my critique of Bailey. I feel it is
>>> unfair because there are those on the list who are not aware of my
>>> and even what Dunn says about it, and are thus left to draw their own
>>> conclusions about Dunn's brief with me. Moreover, your
>>> fails to present to listers a balanced and fair presentation of the
>>> we have had over my critique of Bailey and your response to it. So let
>>> rehearse a bit of that history in order for the record to be set
>>> for those who are not aware of the exchange we have had.
>>> Some time after I posted on Xtalk my critique of Bailey's theory of
>>> controlled oral tradition ("Bailey's Theory of Oral Tradition, a Flawed
>>> Theory, Part I, XTalk post, 9/6/01), you indicated in your XTalk post of
>>> 11/14/01 ("Bailey's Response") that you had informed Bailey of my
>>> and cited parts of Bailey's response to my critique, in which Bailey
>>> strong exception for my revealing that in his use of his only extant
>>> for his theory, he not only did not fully disclose what the source
>>> germane to his use of the source in support of his theory but, also and
>>> fact, he had misrepresented the source to his readers.
>>> In response to your sharing Bailey's irate criticism of my disclosure of
>>> misrepresentation of the source critical to his theory, I posted the
>>> following on XTalk, 11/14/01:
>>> "Thank you Rikk for sharing the gist of Bailey's response to my critique
>>> his theory. I would like to see the full response before I make any
>>> to it. However, I do want to respond briefly to some of your
>>> remarks. First, you note:
>>>> I think, if I am allowed to interpret a bit, he feels that
>>>> there was less of a sympathetic hearing, what Lonergan would call
>>>> "reconstructive," than a controversialist response where the aim, for
>>>> whatever reasons, was to erode as much as possible of his view. I do
>>>> wonder if this is in part because Bailey's thesis even if only partly
>>>> true would create severe problems for Ted's own proposals re Mark. What
>>>> you think Ted? Might there have been something like this at work?).<.
>>> I indicated at that point that I could not respond directly to your
>>> at that point. Then I continued with what you presented in your post:
>>>> As a Markan scholar, I find Ted's to my mind free-wheeling Markan
>>>> creativity, quite incredible and going far beyond the bounds even of
>>>> found in the Hogg story (and particularly so when I apply the same
>>>> to his theses as he does to Bailey's. Sorry Ted).<
>>> I responded:
>>> "Rikk, you need not apologize for not being persuaded by my theory, even
>>> finding it incredible. As you are well aware you are not the first to
>>> found it so in the 37 years it has been in print (Claremont
>>> "The Heresy That Necessitated the Mark's Gospel," (1964); 1968 _ZNW_
>>> by the same title; and my book, _Mark--Traditions in
>>> What would be more helpful to me is to know why you "find
>>> Ted's...free-wheeling creativity, quite incredible and going far beyond
>>> bounds even of that found in the Hogg story (and particularly so when I
>>> apply the same rigor to his theses as he does to Bailey's." I would
>>> appreciate you engaging me with respect to the problems you have with my
>>> methodology, use of the evidence and argumentation. If you are willing
>>> do so, and would rather do it off-list, my e-mail address is . . ."
>>> On 11/21/04, Rikk, you responded to the above in an XTalk post
>>> with the following:
>>> " Ted, I think I need to apologize for my interpretation here; I really
>>> shouldn¹t presume that you are like me. That is, I was thinking about
>>> would respond and I know that I tend to be tougher on ideas that
>>> mine than I am on my own (one of the reasons I so enjoy Xlist: folk like
>>> you keep me honest). So sorry friend."
>>> And with respect to my request that you engage me with respect to the
>>> problems you find with my methodology, you stated:
>>> "You¹re a gracious man. Time is always of the essence (and I must
>>> I¹m sometimes overwhelmed by the lengthy essays) but this sounds like
>>> something it would be good to do."
>>> Rikk, I am still waiting for you to let me know that the time is right
>>> you to share with me the problems you have with my methodology, use of
>>> evidence and argumentation.
>>> On 5/04/04, I wrote the following off-list to you::
>>> "I have enclosed the latest version of my critique (Part One and Part
>>> of Bailey's theory in the attachments. I appreciate your willingness to
>>> read it. I hope you will share with me your critical feedback. That will
>>> important to me."
>>> Not hearing from you, I wrote on 5/21/04 off-list:
>>> "I am wondering now if it is worth your time to go through my revised
>>> critique of Bailey and give me feedback on the latest version. I re-read
>>> your XTalk post of November 14, 2001 (XTalk archives, #8520) in which
>>> share Bailey's criticisms of my critique of his theory. I gather from
>>> personal remarks there, that you find Bailey's position convincing,
>>> notwithstanding my evidentiary assessment. What did catch my eye in your
>>> post was the following:
>>> "As a Markan scholar, I find Ted's to my mind free-wheeling Markan
>>> creativity, quite incredible and going far beyond the bounds even of
>>> found in the Hogg story (and particularly so when I apply the same rigor
>>> his theses as he does to Bailey's. Sorry Ted)."
>>> "Rikk, what you state above seems to be the substantive issue over which
>>> disagree. With that in mind, I wonder if you would be willing to read a
>>> lengthy essay in which I now argue that Mark used Josephus' story of
>>> son of Ananias as the model for his fictional creation of the Jewish and
>>> Roman trials of Jesus? I think your predisposition to seeing Mark as
>>> creative than I do would be a helpful reference point for whatever holes
>>> might find in my argument. To identify those holes would be of great
>>> to me. Are you interested?"
>>> On 5/22/04 you wrote off-list:
>>> "Sorry for the delay . . . . But I am very interested in reading your
>>> For what it's worth I did/do agree with your critique re Rena Hogg and
>>> the account of the desert encounter and make a specific point of
>>> mentioning it, positively, in class. So, yes I appreciate that aspect
>>> very much. On the other hand, I'm not sure this translates into a
>>> thorough-going demolition (I hope that's not too strong a word)
>>> of Bailey. And yes to be honest, I did think that you were a lot
>>> tougher on Bailey than you were on Ted, and yes there is no question
>>> that your work is creative (and yes I do think there's a lot more
>>> what your proposals than there is in Mark... :) )."
>>> "Nevertheless, my apologies for not getting on to this sooner. It's just
>>> matter of finding the time I'm afraid (and I don't want to rush through
>>> "Re the Josephus and Mark thesis (which presupposes I assume that Mark
>>> post-dates Jos?): as long as the essay is not too lengthy, I'd be happy
>>> help out < but do be aware that time is really tight for the next month
>>> As yet, Rikk, you have not indicated to me that you have read my revised
>>> critique, nor have you informed me that you had found time to read my
>>> on Mark's dependency upon the story of Jesus son of Ananias found in
>>> Josephus' _Jew War_. However, you continue to find fault with my
>>> with respect to my interpretation of Mark and allude to Dunn's criticism
>>> my critique of Bailey.
>>> And you close your post of 2/28/05 with this:
>>>> We did then go off into other topics but it seems best to leave those
>>>> aside until we get this point sorted: would you agree that it is
>>>> unfair to require > a 1st century author to meet evidential
>>>> standards that none of his contemporaries expected of him?
>>> It is those other topics related to criticism of my hermeneutic that
>>> been left addressed between us for over a year in one case and nine
>>> in another. Yet you continue to characterize me publicly in X Talk posts
>>> with presenting hermeneutical arguments that are unpersuasive but to a
>>> of my colleagues because of my "unwarranted and unreasonable
>>> that really being fair to characterize my arguments that way when you
>>> yet to engage them substantively as I have invited you to do for over a
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