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Re: [XTalk] Is Jesus the "Lord" in Gal 1:19 and the use of "kyrios" in Paul generally

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  • Jack Kilmon
    ... From: yeshua666 Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 4:36 PM To: Subject: Re: [XTalk] Is Jesus the Lord
    Message 1 of 18 , Nov 13, 2010
      --------------------------------------------------
      From: "yeshua666" <t.c.oneill2@...>
      Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 4:36 PM
      To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: Re: [XTalk] Is Jesus the "Lord" in Gal 1:19 and the use of "kyrios"
      in Paul generally

      >
      >
      > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon@...> wrote:
      >
      >> I have been having this same conversation on "Jesus Mysteries" concerning
      >> Josephus XX on James, Galatians 1:19 and Mark 6:3. The problem that
      >> mythers
      >> have is that every Josephan scholar in the local cluster of galaxies in
      >> the
      >> Orion Spur of the Milky Way (well, there is this one guy on Alpha Cetus
      >> 4)
      >> affirms what is obvious about the language that it is authentic and,
      >> unlike
      >> the Testimonium in XVIII, unscrewed around with by Christians.
      >
      > And this guy would dismiss that as an argument from authority, an appeal
      > to truth by democracy and evidence of a cultural Christian hegemony that
      > even has atheists like me in its crushing grip.

      I don't know why there is always confusion on what the Argumentum Ad
      Verecundium means. It refers to an appeal to "authorities" (in quotes) who
      are not really authorities. If I appeal to scholars like Thackery, Feldman
      and Klausner on this issue, it is not a logical fallacy.


      >
      >
      > The biggest
      >> problem for the mythers is that the James passage (which I also think
      >> gives
      >> us a clue what happened to John Zebedee) is predicated on a previous
      >> treatment of "Jesus, the so-called Christ" as a witness to an earlier
      >> unedited TF.
      >
      >
      > Agreed. But he dismisses that as an assumption.
      >
      > Most mythers have their agenda but have no Greek and certainly
      >> no Aramaic. ADELFON IHSOU TOU LEGOMENOU XRISTOU IAKWBOS ONOMA AUTW.
      >> Literally, "...brother of Jesus who was said to be the Messiah, himself
      >> Jacob by name 'is in the syntactic structure of Josephus' Aramaic draft
      >> of
      >> Antiquities.
      >
      > Now this is interesting. Could you elaborate?

      Greek and the Semitic languages, Hebrew and Aramaic, have different
      structures and word orders. Whenever Aramaic is translated into Greek, it
      can be somewhat cumbersome as evidenced by the Gospel of Mark which is a
      Greek text written by a bilingual Aramaic speaker (see Maurice Casey,
      "Aramaic Sources of Mark's Gospel). The Aramaic interference in
      Translational Greek leaves an obvious signature in the word, order or the
      occurrence of casus pendens, asyndeton, partitive de and a Semitic
      orthography. In the case of the Gospels, for example, there were Aramaic
      oral and written source materials for their authors (See Matthew Black, An
      Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts). Because Aramaic was the
      "language of the street" in 2nd temple Palestine, it is even more idiomatic
      than the more literate Hebrew. Since my studies have always focused on the
      sayings of Jesus which were certainly voiced originally in Aramaic and
      orally transmitted the same, reconstructions in Aramaic from their Greek
      translations in the New Testament can be revealing. Aramaic is a language
      with a number of meanings for one word. Greek has a number of word forms
      for one meaning. As a consequence the Greek texts of the NT often display
      variations in their reading. Reconstructions in Aramaic often clarifies the
      reading by distilling to one meaning. An example to be precise, the Aramaic
      word mishtutha has a double meaning, 1. banquet, 2. wedding. Of course, in
      this 1st century Middle Eastern context, a wedding was about the only time
      the am-ha'aretz had a banquet. In Luke 14:8 the Aramaic word was translated
      to GAMOUS in Greek while in the mss D it Syr-c Matthew it is translated to
      DEIPNHSAI but both Greek words crystallize to to m$twt) in Aramaic. You can
      see, therefore, how a banquet room can become a "place of marriage" in
      Coptic Thomas and then a "bridal suite" in English. This, like "HATE" ones
      father, and mother, etc in Luke 14:23 in an Aramaism of mistranslation.
      "Banquet" or "feast" is the correct reading.

      Since historical Jesus research has been based on the sayings materials, it
      has been a mistake (IMO gross negligence) to ignore the Aramaic background
      and interference in the Greek of the MSS (See M. Casey, An Aramaic Approach
      to Q and Joseph Fitzmyer, The Semitic Background of the New Testament).

      So also for Josephus who wrote his works in his own language (Aramaic) and
      employed "synergoi" to translate them into Greek with which Josephus writes
      that he was uncomfortable. As in the New Testament for its "Jesus stuff,"
      Aramaisms in Josephan Greek are signatures of the pen of Josephus himself.
      The James Passage in Ant. XXX is in Aramaic word order. Josephus wrote it,
      not some later Christian monk/scribe abusing his wine ration.



      >
      >> The problem for mythers is quite clear. Someone that has siblings,
      >> multiply
      >> attested by historical contemporaries, cannot be a myth.
      >
      > He dismisses that as simply a "tradition" and says it's like the
      > "traditions" about King Arthur and Robin Hood and so says that kind of
      > thing can't be used as evidence there was a genuine historical Jesus.

      No ONE thing or single tool is certain evidence of a genuine historical
      Jesus. Even if there had been a skeleton showing forensic evidence of
      crucifixion in a Yeshua Bar Yahosef ossuary, it would be provocative but not
      certain evidence on the level I am accustomed to in science. What can be
      said is that the combination of many critical historical and text-critical
      tools makes it most likely that an historical Jesus existed.

      shlama amek

      Jack Kilmon
      San Antonio, TX



      >
      > Tim O'Neill
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
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    • Jack Kilmon
      A discussion list, even one for strictly scholarly discourse, will not last long in this era of blogs, if one will not engage. As long as one s interlocutor
      Message 2 of 18 , Nov 13, 2010
        A discussion list, even one for strictly scholarly discourse, will not last
        long in this era of blogs, if one will not engage. As long as one's
        interlocutor is not a crackpot and has a viewpoint that is rational, it
        should be engaged. I would certainly not place Tim in the same league as
        "birthers" and "truthers." What I call the "extreme mythist position" is
        not just the reasonable opinion that the pre-existent, virgin born, water
        walking, resurrecting "Christ of Faith" was an accretion of myths but that
        also the historical personage of Jesus of Nazareth is a myth. This is a
        position that should be engaged and as long as the person is not a whack
        job, I will engage.

        Jack Kilmon

        --------------------------------------------------
        From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges@...>
        Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 4:42 PM
        To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Is Jesus the "Lord" in Gal 1:19 and the use of "kyrios"
        in Paul generally

        > Why bother arguing with the fellow? He's apparently in the same category
        > as
        > "Birthers" or "Truthers" -- no amount of evidence would convince him.
        > Unless dealing with him happens to be fun, just stop debating him.
        >
        > Jeffery Hodges
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ________________________________
        > From: yeshua666 <t.c.oneill2@...>
        > To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
        > Sent: Sat, November 13, 2010 7:36:16 AM
        > Subject: Re: [XTalk] Is Jesus the "Lord" in Gal 1:19 and the use of
        > "kyrios" in
        > Paul generally
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon@...> wrote:
        >
        >> I have been having this same conversation on "Jesus Mysteries" concerning
        >> Josephus XX on James, Galatians 1:19 and Mark 6:3. The problem that
        >> mythers
        >> have is that every Josephan scholar in the local cluster of galaxies in
        >> the
        >> Orion Spur of the Milky Way (well, there is this one guy on Alpha Cetus
        >> 4)
        >> affirms what is obvious about the language that it is authentic and,
        >> unlike
        >> the Testimonium in XVIII, unscrewed around with by Christians.
        >
        > And this guy would dismiss that as an argument from authority, an appeal
        > to
        > truth by democracy and evidence of a cultural Christian hegemony that even
        > has
        > atheists like me in its crushing grip.
        >
        >
        > The biggest
        >> problem for the mythers is that the James passage (which I also think
        >> gives
        >> us a clue what happened to John Zebedee) is predicated on a previous
        >> treatment of "Jesus, the so-called Christ" as a witness to an earlier
        >> unedited TF.
        >
        >
        > Agreed. But he dismisses that as an assumption.
        >
        > Most mythers have their agenda but have no Greek and certainly
        >> no Aramaic. ADELFON IHSOU TOU LEGOMENOU XRISTOU IAKWBOS ONOMA AUTW.
        >> Literally, "...brother of Jesus who was said to be the Messiah, himself
        >> Jacob by name 'is in the syntactic structure of Josephus' Aramaic draft
        >> of
        >> Antiquities.
        >
        > Now this is interesting. Could you elaborate?
        >
        >> The problem for mythers is quite clear. Someone that has siblings,
        >> multiply
        >> attested by historical contemporaries, cannot be a myth.
        >
        > He dismisses that as simply a "tradition" and says it's like the
        > "traditions"
        > about King Arthur and Robin Hood and so says that kind of thing can't be
        > used as
        > evidence there was a genuine historical Jesus.
        >
        > Tim O'Neill
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
        >
        > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to:
        > crosstalk2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
        >
        > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
        >
        > List managers may be contacted directly at:
        > crosstalk2-owners@yahoogroups.com
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
        >
        > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to:
        > crosstalk2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
        >
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      • Horace Jeffery Hodges
        I don t know Tim and was relying on Yeshua666 s description of his interlocutor s stubbornness, which seemed excessive, but if he s rational, then my advice
        Message 3 of 18 , Nov 13, 2010
          I don't know "Tim" and was relying on Yeshua666's description of his
          interlocutor's stubbornness, which seemed excessive, but if he's rational, then
          my advice would be different.

          Jeffery Hodges




          ________________________________
          From: Jack Kilmon <jkilmon@...>
          To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Sun, November 14, 2010 3:59:26 AM
          Subject: Re: [XTalk] Is Jesus the "Lord" in Gal 1:19 and the use of "kyrios" in
          Paul generally

          A discussion list, even one for strictly scholarly discourse, will not last
          long in this era of blogs, if one will not engage.  As long as one's
          interlocutor is not a crackpot and has a viewpoint that is rational, it
          should be engaged.  I would certainly not place Tim in the same league as
          "birthers" and "truthers."  What I call the "extreme mythist position" is
          not just the reasonable opinion that the pre-existent, virgin born, water
          walking, resurrecting "Christ of Faith" was an accretion of myths but that
          also the historical personage of Jesus of Nazareth is a myth.  This is a
          position that should be engaged and as long as the person is not a whack
          job, I will engage.

          Jack Kilmon

          --------------------------------------------------
          From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges@...>
          Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 4:42 PM
          To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          Subject: Re: [XTalk] Is Jesus the "Lord" in Gal 1:19 and the use of "kyrios"
          in Paul generally

          > Why bother arguing with the fellow? He's apparently in the same category
          > as
          > "Birthers" or "Truthers" -- no amount of evidence would convince him.
          > Unless dealing with him happens to be fun, just stop debating him.
          >
          > Jeffery Hodges
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ________________________________
          > From: yeshua666 <t.c.oneill2@...>
          > To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
          > Sent: Sat, November 13, 2010 7:36:16 AM
          > Subject: Re: [XTalk] Is Jesus the "Lord" in Gal 1:19 and the use of
          > "kyrios" in
          > Paul generally
          >
          >
          >
          > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon@...> wrote:
          >
          >> I have been having this same conversation on "Jesus Mysteries" concerning
          >> Josephus XX on James, Galatians 1:19 and Mark 6:3.  The problem that
          >> mythers
          >> have is that every Josephan scholar in the local cluster of galaxies in
          >> the
          >> Orion Spur of the Milky Way (well, there is this one guy on Alpha Cetus
          >> 4)
          >> affirms what is obvious about the language that it is authentic and,
          >> unlike
          >> the Testimonium in XVIII, unscrewed around with by Christians.
          >
          > And this guy would dismiss that as an argument from authority, an appeal
          > to
          > truth by democracy and evidence of a cultural Christian hegemony that even
          > has
          > atheists like me in its crushing grip.
          >
          >
          > The biggest
          >> problem for the mythers is that the James passage (which I also think
          >> gives
          >> us a clue what happened to John Zebedee) is predicated on a previous
          >> treatment of "Jesus, the so-called Christ" as a witness to an earlier
          >> unedited TF.
          >
          >
          > Agreed.  But he dismisses that as an assumption.
          >
          > Most mythers have their agenda but have no Greek and certainly
          >> no Aramaic.  ADELFON IHSOU TOU LEGOMENOU XRISTOU IAKWBOS ONOMA AUTW.
          >> Literally, "...brother of Jesus who was said to be the Messiah, himself
          >> Jacob by name 'is in the syntactic structure of Josephus' Aramaic draft
          >> of
          >> Antiquities.
          >
          > Now this is interesting.  Could you elaborate?
          >
          >> The problem for mythers is quite clear.  Someone that has siblings,
          >> multiply
          >> attested by historical contemporaries, cannot be a myth.
          >
          > He dismisses that as simply a "tradition" and says it's like the
          > "traditions"
          > about King Arthur and Robin Hood and so says that kind of thing can't be
          > used as
          > evidence there was a genuine historical Jesus.
          >
          > Tim O'Neill
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ------------------------------------
          >
          > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
          >
          > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to:
          > crosstalk2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > List managers may be contacted directly at:
          > crosstalk2-owners@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          > ------------------------------------
          >
          > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
          >
          > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to:
          > crosstalk2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > List managers may be contacted directly at:
          > crosstalk2-owners@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >


          ------------------------------------

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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • yeshua666
          First of all I d like to thank everyone who responded to my initial inquiry for their comments and contributions. Several people asked why I m bothering to
          Message 4 of 18 , Nov 14, 2010
            First of all I'd like to thank everyone who responded to my initial inquiry for their comments and contributions. Several people asked why I'm bothering to debate this HJ Agnostic and suggested that if he is as irrational and doctrinaire as he seems that this is a waste of time. Sorry to say, but he's actually rather more irrational and doctrinaire than I've made out and vicious and spiteful into the bargain. I am under no illusions at all that I am ever going to get him to back down about anything, let alone change his mind.

            So why bother talking to him at all? In the years I've been reading on the historical Jesus I've noticed a slow rise in these evangelical ahistoricists. They have gone from being a tiny handful on Usenet 15 years ago to dominating the conversation in some quarters. As an atheist and secular humanist myself, it's been dismaying to see these people virtually take over any discussion of the origins of Christianity on atheist and sceptics' fora and slam anyone who dares suggest that there was a Jewish preacher as the origin of the Jesus stories.

            I learned long ago that virtually none of these people are convinced by argument. Most of them stick to the idea that there is no way we can say a HJ was likely in the face of all evidence. A few, such as this guy, have carefully constructed a position over many years that means he has standard replies to any objection and counter-argument, backed up with scorn, sarcasm and insinuation that no-one is as learned and well-read as he is.

            I bother with him and people like him because there are others on the sidelines who are not convinced either way and who, unlike the fanatics, actually *can* be swayed by good argument. So far these observers are unconvinced by this guy's bluster, but he posts (cut and paste) contributions of many thousands of words several times a day and it's hard to counter everything he says because the sheer volume of his contributions all but drowns out counter-arguments. So I'm choosing to concentrate on his arguments' weakest points – the number of supposed "Christian interpolations" his position requires and the mentions of James in both Josephus and Galatians.

            Since several here have been good enough to make some suggestions to me, I hope you all don't mind if I respond to them in one post:

            --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, David Cavanagh <davidcavanagh@...> wrote:

            > Well, I think I would move this argument away from the complex
            > grammatical issues, and ask JA to provide contemporary evidence for the
            > use of the idiom "the Lord's brother" as referring to a follower
            > of/believer in YHWH - I think he would be hard pressed to find any.

            Which he knows. So he broadens things by noting that Paul does use the term "brother"/"brothers" in several places to mean simply "a fellow believer" and asks why it can't mean that here. When it's noted that he also refers to "the Lord's brothers" in 1Corinthians 9:5 he claims this is simply a group of non-apostles who are equal to "Cephas" and "the other apostles". When it's pointed out that this group is otherwise unattested, he points out that there are a lot of otherwise unattested people mentioned in Paul's letters.

            --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jack Kilmon" <jkilmon@...> wrote:

            > > Now this is interesting. Could you elaborate?
            >
            > Greek and the Semitic languages, Hebrew and Aramaic, have different
            > structures and word orders. Whenever Aramaic is translated into Greek, it
            > can be somewhat cumbersome as evidenced by the Gospel of Mark which is a
            > Greek text written by a bilingual Aramaic speaker (see Maurice Casey,
            > "Aramaic Sources of Mark's Gospel).

            [snip]

            > So also for Josephus who wrote his works in his own language (Aramaic) and
            > employed "synergoi" to translate them into Greek with which Josephus writes
            > that he was uncomfortable. As in the New Testament for its "Jesus stuff,"
            > Aramaisms in Josephan Greek are signatures of the pen of Josephus himself.
            > The James Passage in Ant. XXX is in Aramaic word order. Josephus wrote it,
            > not some later Christian monk/scribe abusing his wine ration.

            Jack – thanks very much for that. I was aware of Casey's work (though not that of Fitzmeyer) but thanks for the insight. I did guess this was what you were referring to, but I was actually asking for some more specific detail on how "ADELFON IHSOU TOU LEGOMENOU XRISTOU IAKWBOS ONOMA AUTW" is identifiably Aramaic in its syntactic structure rather than Greek. How does the syntax here differ from what we would expect for a Greek speaker and how does it conform better to Aramaic? Apologies, but my grasp of Greek is poor and my Aramaic is non-existent. But it strikes me that this line of inquiry is potentially a very useful argument against the persistent claims that any mention of Jesus in Josephus has to be an interpolation.

            I also wasn't aware that Josephus wasn't comfortable writing Greek and had his works translated from Aramaic – do you have a reference for that?

            Thanks also to David Hindley's analysis of the uses of the word "KURIOS". And yes David, this is FRDB's "spin" we're talking about. It seems he's declared some kind of internet vendetta against me and is now following me to other fora to pursue it relentlessly. I suppose I should be flattered or something.

            Thanks again to all,

            Tim O'Neill
          • ehub035
            [from Geoff Riggs; not Liz H., my better half] ... on the historical Jesus I ve noticed a slow rise in these evangelical ahistoricists. They have gone from
            Message 5 of 18 , Nov 15, 2010
              [from Geoff Riggs; not Liz H., my better half]

              --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "yeshua666" <t.c.oneill2@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > So why bother talking to him at all? In the years I've been reading
              on the historical Jesus I've noticed a slow rise in these evangelical
              ahistoricists. They have gone from being a tiny handful on Usenet 15
              years ago to dominating the conversation in some quarters. As an
              atheist and secular humanist myself, it's been dismaying to see these
              people virtually take over any discussion of the origins of Christianity
              on atheist and sceptics' fora and slam anyone who dares suggest that
              there was a Jewish preacher as the origin of the Jesus stories.
              >
              > I learned long ago that virtually none of these people are convinced
              by argument. Most of them stick to the idea that there is no way we can
              say a HJ was likely in the face of all evidence. A few, such as this
              guy, have carefully constructed a position over many years that means he
              has standard replies to any objection and counter-argument, backed up
              with scorn, sarcasm and insinuation that no-one is as learned and
              well-read as he is.
              > Tim O'Neill
              >

              And I must urgently second everything that Mr. O'Neill has stated here,
              with an added concern. Everything that these evangelical ahistoricists
              habitually write in these days has not only had the effect of sabotaging
              serious discussions on the Web concerning the latest professional
              historical research, again and again. Their increasing numbers also
              seem to both reflect and propel a burgeoning "movement" (I can think of
              no other word) aimed at discrediting any "taint" of intellectualism in
              addressing any Scriptural or non-Scriptural materials related to the
              Historical Jesus whatsoever. While I am aware that many view certain
              kinds of Christian fundamentalisms as also tantamount to an attempt at
              "terrorizing" intellectual inquiry into Scripture off the "public
              square", these militant ahistoricists are now doing essentially the same
              thing from a rigorously materialistic perspective. In other words, they
              disrupt any and all such serious discussions by proclaiming with all the
              fervour of the most fanatic zealot that every jot and tittle of material
              on the historical Jesus of Nazareth, Scriptural and non-Scriptural
              alike, is purely and entirely made up, right down to the most multiply
              attested saying and the most mundane detail in the most purely Roman
              chronicle or letter.

              Some, like Mr. O'Neil and myself, are frankly growing alarmed by this
              trend. It is starting to smack of a fanatic type of would-be thought
              control as bad as anything ever imputed (rightly or wrongly) to the most
              orthodox and/or fanatical fundamentalist. Where some fundamentalists
              proclaim adamantly that every word in every text in Scripture is pure
              history precisely as it really happened and therefore not appropriate or
              proper for modern historical analysis and research, these ahistoricists
              proclaim just as adamantly that every word in every Roman chronicle and
              every Roman letter related to Jesus of Nazareth is just as much -- and
              as uniformly -- pure fiction, from A to Z, as anything in Scripture and
              therefore not appropriate or proper for modern historical analysis and
              research. The end result is the same as with the most intolerant
              fundamentalist: an attempt at de-legitimizing any attempt at serious
              discussion and give-and-take on historical research into the Historical
              Jesus and Christian Origins.

              Tied to this is an apparent willingness to trash the very discipline of
              history itself, as if the rigorous conclusions by the most recent
              historians related to, say, the more probable versus the less probable
              details for a Hannibal or a Boadicea (sp.?), are merely grounded on
              assumptions pulled out of thin air! This is tantamount to would-be book
              burning aimed at whole schools of historical research. It is growing
              quite terrifying, frankly, and I applaud posters like Mr. O'Neill who
              are ready to see the urgency of taking a stand and challenging an
              outlook as profoundly ignorant as this one, once and for all. Too many
              are being hoodwinked by this growing outlook today, and I'm starting to
              see younger and increasingly inexperienced "students" of history
              adopting this outlook on the Web unquestioningly. It's getting worse
              for not being properly challenged.

              It is no exaggeration to suggest that, if unchallenged, this profoundly
              anti-intellectual outlook against most modern serious historians and
              scholars of the ancient world might soon imperil freedom of inquiry way
              beyond the parameters of the online world.

              Seriously,

              Geoffrey Riggs
            • E Bruce Brooks
              To: Crosstalk Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: Geoff Riggs On: Trashing History From: Bruce I am much in sympathy with the tone of Geoff s recent post. Here is one
              Message 6 of 18 , Nov 15, 2010
                To: Crosstalk
                Cc: GPG, WSW
                In Response To: Geoff Riggs
                On: Trashing History
                From: Bruce

                I am much in sympathy with the tone of Geoff's recent post. Here is one
                extract from it:

                GEOFF: Tied to this is an apparent willingness to trash the very discipline
                of history itself, as if the rigorous conclusions by the most recent
                historians related to, say, the more probable versus the less probable
                details for a Hannibal or a Boadicea (sp.?), are merely grounded on
                assumptions pulled out of thin air!

                BRUCE: Just so, and unfortunately this is no new thing. The textual
                sciences, and with them my own specialty of philology, have been under
                worldwide attack since approximately 7 July 1937, and the trend has now
                reached what can fairly be called alarming proportions. A recent article in
                the Chronicle of Higher Education thought that there might be a future for
                the humanities, but probably outside academe. I have been pointing to this
                probability for some years now, and if the Chronicle (never the fastest car
                on the track) is catching up, things must be really far advanced.

                The methodological crisis for the historical discipline was perceived long
                ago, and registered in several book-length treatments. I might mention Keith
                Windschuttle, The Killing of History, Encounter 1996. There are some
                possibly helpful notes in the Methodology section of the Warring States
                Project web site:

                http://www.umass.edu/wsp/methodology/index.html

                One of those pages, The Attack on History, picks up on Windschuttle and a
                few like indictments.

                As Geoff notes, inflexible anti-intellectuallism simply fouls and stymies
                discussion. What to do? Convincing the errants is not a realistic prospect;
                they are already happy (or viably unhappy) where they are. It seems to me
                that there are roughly two options, or rather two sides of one option, that
                option being separation:

                1. Banish the offenders. 1 Cor 16:22. With adequate list management this can
                be done; it is what list managers are there for. It takes a certain amount
                of nerve.

                2. Withdraw and start a more productive conversation elsewhere. This happens
                all the time. The history of government in England (or in China) is simply a
                series of replacements of obsolete and dysfunctional institutions by new and
                at least briefly functional ones. There is no reason to expect E-discourse
                to pattern any differently, over the long haul.

                It was some years ago, if memory does not deceive me, that dissidents
                seceded from the American Historical Association and its increasingly
                PC-clotted discourse, and formed their own group.

                http://www.bu.edu/historic/about.html

                That the new and functional discussions will be small is not necessarily a
                disadvantage. We know from Parkinson that the ideal size of a committee
                which has to decide things (and otherwise it is just talk, and talk is a
                waste of our time on the planet), is five. Under careful management, that
                number can be exceeded, but not necessarily for long. My rule of thumb: if
                your discussion group is too large to fit into a booth at the local
                pizzeria, it is too large, period.

                Not that the whole field needs to be reduced to that size, but that this is
                the ideal discussion module. The field, ideally, is the result of linkage
                between the different discussions. Ask the next naval architect you meet, Do
                you design an ocean-going ship as one watertight unit? The answer will
                probably be, No, but as many such units dynamically linked together.

                How the different groups link up is a question with many answers, all of
                them cheap and easy. Journal, E, conference calls, pony express,
                miniconferences. Our group has used all of them, at one time or another, and
                can speak to their practicability.

                Seriously suggested,

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                http://www.umass.edu/wsp
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