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[XTalk] Re: Inductivism as inappropriate method

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  • Brian Tucker
    ... It appears that the choices are Crossan s Interdisciplinary method or Wright s critical realist method. What is your opinion of Wright s description on his
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 1, 2000
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      Sukie Curtis wrote:

      > In response to just a bit of Bob Schacht's New Year's Eve message:
      > >
      > > 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.

      It appears that the choices are Crossan's Interdisciplinary method or Wright's
      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
      a.k.a. positivism.

      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
      substance." (1999:245)

      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 of
      Jesus 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?

      Brian Tucker
      Riverview, MI
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