Re: [XTalk] Memories of Jesus
- Hi Gordon,
No problem : ).
If you don't mind my saying, I think I'm actually pretty happy to set aside
my own views and consider those of others as I think my scholarly output
and academic affiliations bear out. From my perspective, I don't think lack
of open-mindedness is actually the issue. It's simply that not all proposals
are equally worthy of open-mindedness. No scholar that I know feels any
particular twinge, when in assessing which views invite serious attention,
s/he decides to focus on some and ignore others. Not all hypotheses/new
ideas are created equal. Just because someone has a creative and "plausible"
(presumably to them) idea doesn't really tell me anything about the
likelihood of it being true. Consider the respective fates of the iPod and
the Zune; or Bowman's theory of Mark being based on a Passover Haggadah.
Perhaps there was a great conspiracy of close-mindedness; or perhaps the
Zune was just plain "wrong" and Bowman simply failed to convince his readers
that his idea was worth pursuing. I find it hard to believe that it was the
former. The problem was not with his audience's lack of open-mindedness, but
Bowman: he failed to make his case.
In this busy world of highly competitive demands, new ideas, if they are
going to get heard, need to have something going for them. For me, sorry to
be so blunt but I guarantee I'm not alone, mostly subjective reconstructions
of what the early Christians were doing are a dime a dozen and simply aren't
worth my time. As I tell my students, I (and I think most academics) like
to see serious engagement with previous scholarship showing both an
understanding of that scholarship and why earlier proposals don't work, and
an indication of how this new proposal takes account of that scholarship and
makes better sense of the actual data. I also like to see some appeal to
what we know of first century practice and beliefs in order to show how this
new proposal makes better sense of the data in that world. If I don't see
good evidence of either, I tend not to bother, since in my experience over a
number of decades such theories inevitably tell me more about the
imaginations of their proponent than history. (I recall one individual on
this list making a great deal of noise about the gospels being some kind of
art/metaphor. But when several requests for evidence that first century
readers, to whom they were presumably addressed, ever saw them this way went
unanswered, I had little choice but to conclude that the entire proposal was
an exercise in solipsistic anachronism). Perhaps I'm getting a bit old and
crotchety but, as I approach my sixties, if someone wants to gain my
interest then that's what it's going to take. I'm happy to be open-minded
(ask the folks who participate in the Mark Seminar at SBL) but a proposer
has to earn that right; not simply assume it.
Best (and if you one day produce that OUP volume on Mark that wins the day,
I'd be more than happy to stand up and introduce you on your world lecture
> From: Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...>
> Reply-To: xtalk <email@example.com>
> Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2011 11:05:31 -0500
> To: xtalk <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: [XTalk] Memories of Jesus
> Hi Rikk,
> Not to intrude on your conversations with Bruce, but to put one little
> note since you called out my name:)!
> On Jan 24, 2011, at 10:19 AM, Rikk Watts wrote:
>> I agree with you that it is highly unlikely that the gospels we have
>> written so late. I can't think of a single recognized authority on
>> Mark who
>> would agree with Gordon. But xtalk is a generous list ...
> First, I am entirely grateful for the list's and your generosity.
> Second, you will find the usual range of dates (65 to 80) on the Early
> Christian Writings site (www.earlychristianwritings.com), as the
> general range of dates given for Mark. I lose no sleep over it being
> written in 70. I think 80 to say 85 actually makes far more sense,
> because how I understand the genre of the Gospels (and you know we
> disagree about this), because how I see the interface of Mark with
> both "house churches and those internal issues" and the Roman world,
> and because I think this kind of creativity suggests a real "pondering
> time" after the R-J war. Thus I say 80 and even push 85 (so beyond
> those typical stated limits) to highlight these aspects. But hey, if
> Mark wrote it the afternoon after the "walls came tumbling down," that
> is fine with me. Who knows how long a particular artist takes in
> their creativity? Some works are dashed out. Some works are poured
> over for years. We can all guess about that, no matter our "genre"
> understandings, but we cannot be any more precise than "a range of
> years." And that is based on how we make connections with author/
> previously produced materials/ community/ world situation and how all
> of those things relate and interrelate.
> I'll close on this note. A really generous thing to do, now and
> again, is to set down one's own understandings and think carefully
> through alternate proposals. Crosstalk is a place for that, and so I
> think most generous for all of us:)!
> Gordon Raynal
> Inman, SC
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