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[XTalk] Re: Re:Crossan vs. Wright (and Allison)

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  • Sukie Curtis
    Jacob, Thanks for all that work answering my question about what Allison has to say about Crossan s method. It ll take a while to read and digest, but in the
    Message 1 of 20 , Jan 6, 2000
      Jacob,
      Thanks for all that work answering my question about what Allison has to say
      about Crossan's method. It'll take a while to read and digest, but in the
      meantime, thank you.

      Sukie Curtis
      Cumberland Foreside, Maine

      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Jacob Knee [mailto:jknee@...]
      > Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2000 6:54 PM
      > To: crosstalk2@egroups.com
      > Subject: [XTalk] Re: Re:Crossan vs. Wright
      >
      >
      > As a preface I should say that Dale Allison's book was obviously written
      > before the publication of the 'Birth of Christianity' and so
      > references only
      > Crossan's discussions in the 'Historical Jesus'. Though he does
      > say that he
      > engaged in fruitful 'panel discussions' with Crossan twice in 1997.
      >
      > He concentrates on criticising Crossan's methods in what Crossan calls the
      > second and third triads of his methodology (inventory, stratification,
      > attestation and sequence of strata, hierarchy of attestation,
      > bracketing of
      > singularity)
      >
      > 1. Crossan is wrong to think that stratifying _documents_ is a
      > great help in
      > working towards a picture of Jesus. He is also wrong in Allison's view to
      > postulate 'that at least for the first stratum everything is
      > original until
      > it is argued otherwise' (HJ xxxii). In addion his four cut off points for
      > stratification are arbitrary, as of course they must be, but to then place
      > significant weight on these arbitrary points (in particular to so
      > prioritise
      > the first stratum) is unjustifiable. Thus if Q dates to the 60s
      > rather than
      > 40s or 50s almost a third of the items in the first strata move to the
      > second. This is a significant change. If the Gospel of Thomas dates in the
      > same way to the 60s rather than the 50s a further 28 complexes would be
      > removed from the first strata. Crossan, like Allison, admits that the
      > elements of his his methodology are only formal moves and invites
      > others to
      > suggest better ones (HJ xxxiv). Allsion does that and suggests if
      > we are to
      > stratify then the natural cut off point is the fall of the Temple, which
      > marks a major turning point in the history of Gentile and Jewish
      > Christianity. He also suggests it is methodologically better to err on the
      > side of caution about the dating of documents, so to say to begin with the
      > more certain and move to the less. Thus into his first strata of documents
      > Allison admits only Paul, Mark and Q. But in the same breath he
      > confesses he
      > is unsure of the value of strafiying documents at all, because even using
      > Crossan's strata only a few years separates Q from Mark, and Mark
      > from L and
      > as Crossan admits (eg in analysing the J the Baptist apocalyptic sayings)
      > secondary strata can contain reliable evidence. Thus Allison
      > argues the task
      > is analysis of tradition units not documents and that the same analysis
      > should be applied to all levels of the tradition (there should be no
      > presumption about the first stratum).
      >
      > 2. Allison goes on to criticise Crossan's use of multiple
      > attestation saying
      > that it is not obvious that singly attested sayings are to be
      > presumed to be
      > inauthentic. Indeed multiple attestation might be thought to be good
      > evidence that the early church found the sayings conjenial. Thus multiple
      > attestation runs in tension with dissimilarity.
      >
      > He then gives some statistical analyses of Crossan's analysis of the
      > materials in the first stratum and interestingly finds that in Q,
      > M, L, and
      > Thomas, the greatest proportion of material that Crossan finds to be
      > authentic is _doubly attested_ (rather than triply or more attested). This
      > is not what you would expect from Crossan's declared methodology (see HJ
      > xxxii). He also notes that in this first stratum single
      > attestation is a bad
      > thing, except in Q, for which Crossan counts 28% of singly attested
      > traditions authentic. Finally he argues that Crossan tends to
      > limit multiple
      > attestation to sayings or complexes, not ideas but very
      > occasionally uses it
      > to include thematic multiple attestation (eg HJ p260). Does multiple
      > attestation include themes or not? If it does, he argues that would alter
      > Crossan's picture of Jesus not insignificantly (eg although no apocalyptic
      > Son of Man saying is multiply attested, the idea is multiply attested).
      >
      > 3. Tadition history. Allison alleges that Crossan typically
      > establishes that
      > a complex did not originate with Jesus through tradition history. He works
      > through one of Crossan's tradition histories on Q12. 8- 9 (HJ p248-9).
      > Crossan's tradition history leads him to argue this saying is inauthentic
      > even though severally attested and from the first stratum.
      > Allison offers an
      > alternative tradition history. He argues the case is not whether Crossan's
      > or his alternatives are possible, the case is that equally plausible
      > tradition histories with very different outcomes are very easy to imagine.
      > The better way then is to move from the more certain to the less by
      > identifying what facts and generalisations we can reasonably know about
      > Jesus _before_ entering the conjested world of tradition history.
      >
      > 4. Uncertainty. Allsion wants to ask where are all the question marks in
      > Crossan's analysis. That sometimes the verdict will be 'don't
      > know' that the
      > evidence is equivocal and the best thing is to say so. He imagines that
      > Crossan might reply that the 'minus' sign means only that a
      > tradition cannot
      > safely be attributed to Jesus (that it might come from Jesus but we can't
      > know). However in practice these traditions are excluded from Crossan's
      > picture of Jesus and if he were to include them it would
      > significantly alter
      > his overall portrait (eg turning Jesus into an apocalyptic prophet). For
      > Crosan such units can't be authentic.
      >
      > Sorry to have gone on for so long - this is the thrust of Allison's
      > argument: there is significantly more detail that I have missed out (and
      > more statistical analysis of Crossan's use of criteria of attestation). If
      > you made it throught all of that I hope it was helpful!
      >
      > Best wishes,
      > Jacob Knee
      > >
      >
      >
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