[XTalk] Re: Inductivism as inappropriate method
- In response to just a bit of Bob Schacht's New Year's Eve message:
>In personal e-mail correspondence, Crossan once indicated that when the
> Crossan outlines the research process we should be engaged in as follows
> (references are to The Birth of Christianity):
> 1. Method (p. 143). According to Crossan, this must precede anything
> else. Crossan bewails the lack of attention to method. Crossan writes
> that his The Historical Jesus (1991) was intended to "inaugurate" a
> full-blown debate on methodology among his peers, but he complains in
> The Birth of Christianity (1998) that "There is still no serious
> discussion of methodology in historical Jesus research" (p. 139). I
> suspect that most scholars are content to suppose that there is something
> called "the methods of critical scholarship," and that that, whatever it
> is (i.e., whatever passed for critical scholarship when you were in
> graduate school) should suffice. For example, in The Five Gospels (1993),
> the authors take refuge in "the safeguards offered by the historical
> methodologies practiced by all responsible scholars" (p. 5, without
> enumeration). However, in the following pages (pp. 5-35), the authors of
> The Five Gospels list around 50 "rules of evidence," etc. (identified in
> red bulleted text) that seem intended to take the place of a formal
> methodology. The "rules of written evidence," for example, were
> "formulated and adopted ... to guide the assessment of gospel traditions"
> by the Jesus Seminar (p. 16). Later (p.34), T5G noted that
> "The Fellows of the Seminar are critical scholars. To be a *critical*
> scholar means to make empirical, factual evidence-- evidence open to
> confirmation by independent, neutral observers-- the controling factor in
> historical judgments. ... Critical scholars adopt the principle of
> methodological skepticism: accept only what passes the rigorous test of
> the rules of evidence."
> Since Crossan was intimately involved in this project, and since he
> doesn't mention this work in The Birth of Christianity, the rules of
> evidence formulated by his colleagues for that project evidently are not
> sufficient in his view. In fact, neither The Five Gospels, the Jesus
> Seminar, nor Robert Funk appear in the indexes of this book (does this
> strike anyone else as odd?)
Jesus Seminar was first getting going, he proposed to Funk that the JS begin
with discussion of methodology but that he conceded to Funk's point that if
they did so, they might still be discussing methodology in ten years and
have made no progress toward consensus on the historical Jesus. As I
understand it, each fellow of the Seminar followed his/her own method and
criteria in discussing and voting. And that those opening pages of The Five
Gospels reflects more of a collection of those various criteria, rather than
an agreed-upon-before-beginning method to be followed by all participants.
In which case those pages are somewhat misleading in suggesting (as Bob has
quoted) that the "rules of evidence" were "formulated and adopted . . . to
guide the assessment of gospel traditions."
Cumberland Foreside, Maine
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- Sukie Curtis wrote:
> In response to just a bit of Bob Schacht's New Year's Eve message:It appears that the choices are Crossan's Interdisciplinary method or Wright's
> > Crossan outlines the research process we should be engaged in as follows
> > (references are to The Birth of Christianity):
> > 1. Method (p. 143). According to Crossan, this must precede anything
> > else.
> In personal e-mail correspondence, Crossan once indicated that when the
> Jesus Seminar was first getting going, he proposed to Funk that the JS begin
> with discussion of methodology but that he conceded to Funk's point that if
> they did so, they might still be discussing methodology in ten years and
> have made no progress toward consensus on the historical Jesus.
critical realist method.
What is your opinion of Wright's description on his method in chapter 4 of _New
Testament and the People of God_. He defines his method as a critical realist
position "which acknowledges that all knowledge of realities external to oneself
takes place within the framework of a world view, of which stories form an
essential part." (NTPG 45) This removes his method from a narrow empiricism
Wright feels that his method has not be challenged his method, "Since no one has
yet engaged, far less attempted to refute, my arguments there, I am not too
anxious about gadfly like criticisms that sting the surface but do not touch the
Crossan critiques his presuppositions (1998:95-99) but does not interact with
his critical realist method but does touch on his hypothesis and verification
methodology. Is there any bibliography critiquing Wright's method, or do you
have thoughts on the weaknesses of his method?
As it pertains to criteria a method does not make - The survey that I am
familiar with that attempts to link the two is: Dennis Polkow, "Method and
Criteria for Historical Jesus Research," SBL Seminar Papers 26 (1987): 336-56.
>From a conservative methodology, Craig Evans, "Authenticity Criteria in Life ofJesus Research," Christian Scholar's Review 19 (1989): 6-31. It seems their
assumption is the underlying theory is called "methodological doubt."
Methodological naturalism seems to have some potential for wide acceptance:
1. Search for common ground. A lowest common denominator that all can agree on
(i.e. your inventory with Davies). Is that inventory available, besides in 5G?
2. Strategy of hypothetical thinking. Limiting evidence to that which would be
admissible to a naturalist.
3. This method is pragmatic and heuristic.
Crossan does mention critical realism, which he calls interactivism, but he
differs with Wright on how this concept works in practice. (1998:44)
A chart comparing Crossan's proposed method with Wright's method would be
helpful at this point - any volunteers?
It may be that there is some overlap between the two and Crossan is caricaturing
Wright's method, of course, that 's what Wright did when he was here in Detroit
in a couple months ago.
I agree with the point that Sukie made concerning the differing methods of the
JS. There is some benefit to that, but I wonder if things would be different if
there was an agreed upon method to use?
Ben Meyer had written concerning the topic of methods in NT studies:
Critical Realism and the New Testament, Princeton Theological Monograph Series
17 (Allison Park, PA: Pickwick, 1989)
Would this have anything to add to our discussion, maybe those more familiar
with this work could respond?
I agree that this is an important topic, I feel somewhat unprepared to respond
cogently to your post. It seems to me that Crossan is on target, but how can we
move from a focus on interpretation to method and inventory?