Re: [XTalk] Re: Is Jesus the "Lord" in Gal 1:19 and the use of "kyrios" in Paul generally
- To: Crosstalk
Cc: GPG, WSW
In Response To: Geoff Riggs
On: Trashing History
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:
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
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.
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.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst