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[XTalk] Critical realism

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  • Robert M. Schacht
    On Fri, 21 Jan 2000 17:03:15 +0000 Rikki E. Watts ... of ... basis ... you ... Meyer s ... Lonergan s ... Rikki, Thanks for these references. Your viewpoint
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 21, 2000
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      On Fri, 21 Jan 2000 17:03:15 +0000 "Rikki E. Watts"
      <rwatts@...> writes:
      >... My contention is that materialism is an inadequate assumption simply
      > because, as you freely admit, it is incapable of dealing with so much
      of
      > what defines our humanity, such as purpose, meaning, justice, etc. ...
      > I think the assumption that rational discussion can only occur on the
      basis
      > of a materialist truncation of human experience is demonstrably false.
      ...
      > This to me is the great strength of critical realism, and I would urge
      you
      > to read the opening sections of Tom Wright's NEW TESTAMENT AND THE
      > PEOPLE OF GOD. If you would like a more detailed treatment then Ben
      Meyer's
      > CRITICAL REALISM AND THE NEW TESTAMENT is good or, if you prefer,
      Lonergan's
      > own work but it is heavy going.

      Rikki,
      Thanks for these references. Your viewpoint is not well-represented on
      this list, but I welcome it, especially in the light of our recent
      discussions on Wright vs. Crossan.

      >As to a critique of the so-called objectivity of the
      > scientific method (particularly as championed in England by Bertrand
      > Russell), see Michael Polanyi, a good summary of whose thought is
      found in
      > Drusilla Scott's EVERYMAN REVIVED.

      I've read some Polanyi (some years ago) but never could get past his
      critique of the received methods to something I could get a handle on. I
      haven't seen the article you cite.

      >(I might note here that some folk seem to
      > dismiss NT Wright as some form of reconstructed conservatism. I find
      this
      > assessment both inadequate and ill-informed. Wright's is an attempt
      to
      > apply Lonergan's critical realism to history. Whereas the old
      critical
      > method often begins by bracketing out certain things because they do
      not
      > conform to its preconceived view of reality, critical realism makes no
      such
      > prior judgement but operates on the grounds of seeking to make the best
      > sense out of all the data....

      Thanks for this summary. Perhaps you can explain to me something about
      Wright's use of "hypothesis." Is that original with him, or is that
      Lonergan or Ben Meyer? What Wright calls a hypothesis is to me hopelessly
      large and convoluted, and is impossible to "test" in any way I find
      meaningful. How does one "test" one of Wright's "hypotheses"?

      Lonergan is another one that I had a hard time getting a handle on.

      >... We have in critical realism a tool that has opened up so many
      > new avenues of understanding; surely its sheer productivity ought to
      tell us
      > something.

      I hope you will enter into some of the XTalk debates and *show* us how
      this is true, so that we can see the virtues thereof. It seems that most
      Xtalkers must be from Missouri, judging by our "show me" attitude.

      > After all, isn't this is exactly the principle of theory
      > selection in science? Going with the theory that best explains the
      greatest
      > amount of the data? ...

      If you can show us that this is true, you'll get converts. If you can't,
      your opinions won't matter. I would like to see how you apply critical
      realism to specific cases. In other words, let's apply this philosophy to
      some evidence so we can see how it works.

      Bob
    • Rikki E. Watts
      Hi Robert, Thanks for the observations. I do apologize in that I have not yet been able to respond to all the messages I ve received (every time I open my
      Message 2 of 14 , Jan 25, 2000
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        Hi Robert,

        Thanks for the observations.

        I do apologize in that I have not yet been able to respond to all the
        messages I've received (every time I open my email I get about forty
        messages, some requiring substantive responses, and like everybody else I'm
        just flat out trying to keep up with a heavy teaching load, writing etc.) I
        will try to get around to them...

        > I've read some Polanyi (some years ago) but never could get past his
        > critique of the received methods to something I could get a handle on. I
        > haven't seen the article you cite.
        Actually it's a book (Eerdmans if recall correctly). You are right in that
        Polanyi's point as I understand him is primarily a critique of the gnostic
        model of science, built on the notion of personal knowledge. Objective
        knowledge in the Enlightenment/Cartesian sense is impossible since everyone
        has an agenda (is interested) which determines not only what material we
        choose to study but also how we look at it (i.e. it is impossible to study
        theology without studying it in a tradition and that tradition largely
        shapes us whether evangelical or liberal, conservative or whatever). Hence,
        Bertrand Russell, in speaking as though all scientists did was examine brute
        facts and then produced a theory to explain them, failed to realize that
        there is already the personal commitment/agenda in choosing what we decide
        to call facts and which ones of those we "see". Likewise I'm not entirely
        sure that Polanyi proposed a way around this; except perhaps simply to
        alerting us to the fact (danger?) that all learning necessarily implies a
        prior commitment to a tradition and a schooling in the appropriate guild,
        all of which entails a host of obligations and personal issues that can
        cloud judgement.


        > Thanks for this summary. Perhaps you can explain to me something about
        > Wright's use of "hypothesis." Is that original with him, or is that
        > Lonergan or Ben Meyer? What Wright calls a hypothesis is to me hopelessly
        > large and convoluted, and is impossible to "test" in any way I find
        > meaningful. How does one "test" one of Wright's "hypotheses"?
        Your observation is fair enough, but I would urge that this is to be
        expected in any new paradigm. It takes time to isolate all the elements and
        then begin to test their explanatory power.
        It seems to me that what is going here is exactly what happened with Tycho,
        Galileo, Newton, Darwin, etc. A new paradigm is proposed, sketchy and broad
        brush at first but then under examination fine tuning or whatever occurs.
        I would argue that testing Wright's hypothesis is exactly what is going on
        in e.g. the dialogue between himself, Crossan, and Borg (in print and at
        e.g. SBL). E.g. did Israel conceive of itself as still being in some
        significant way in exile? Let's look at the texts and then try to see if
        this hypothesis makes better sense of what we know of first cent Israel. I
        think Wright's hypothesis is as testable as any other currently on offer
        (and more so than some).

        > Lonergan is another one that I had a hard time getting a handle on.
        Absolutely--but again look at Kant. It seems that the hallmark of thinkers
        who step outside the regnant paradigm is that they have a difficult time
        expressing themselves and understandably so since there is as yet no
        discourse available to them to express themselves. I.e. they are trying to
        talk about something outside the paradigm but are as yet confined to a
        discourse which has been shaped by the very paradigm they are seeking to
        escape. Ben Meyer is very helpful though. In some ways I think that
        Lonergan is nice complement to Polanyi.


        > I hope you will enter into some of the XTalk debates and *show* us how
        > this is true, so that we can see the virtues thereof. It seems that most
        > Xtalkers must be from Missouri, judging by our "show me" attitude.
        Fine; I'll try. But I think that Wright's model (and again, he's part of
        the English tradition that includes Caird, Dodd, et al) is pretty good at
        fitting most of the basic data in. I can't think of another that so
        integrates Jesus into Israel's story, as expressed by its signs and symbols.
        My own work included some study on the role of ideology in shaping a
        community's self-understanding (I'd already done some work in Art History on
        a kind of "symbol" intertextuality). The social theorists I had read led to
        me respond very positively to Tom's ideological model (can I call it that?).
        I think a key is how one understands apocalyptic. The bit of work I did in
        intertestamental Jewish literature and social theory makes me think that
        they never envisaged an end to space-time history. My reading of Genesis
        and Israel's conceptualizing of creation suggests to me that they could
        never countenance an end to time or creation. I think Tom (a la Caird) is
        quite right (and I'm sorry if this has been worked through before) that
        apocalyptic is metaphor and code which invests temporal events with their
        true meaning.


        > If you can show us that this is true, you'll get converts. If you can't,
        > your opinions won't matter. I would like to see how you apply critical
        > realism to specific cases. In other words, let's apply this philosophy to
        > some evidence so we can see how it works.
        Again, I would simply point to Wright. Obviously the details need working
        out as with any new emerging paradigm, but by and large I can't see that
        he's missed much (unless of course one already has some assumptions the
        nature of reality that cause one to begin to dismiss this or that piece of
        data ...and there in lies the rub). Does that help?

        > Bob
        >
        >
        >
        >
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      • Antonio Jerez
        ... I think it is really to overstate the case to put a fellow like NT Wright in the same exalted company as Tycho, Galileo, Newton and Darwin. Wright is
        Message 3 of 14 , Jan 26, 2000
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          Bob Schacht wrote:
          > > Thanks for this summary. Perhaps you can explain to me something about
          > > Wright's use of "hypothesis." Is that original with him, or is that
          > > Lonergan or Ben Meyer? What Wright calls a hypothesis is to me hopelessly
          > > large and convoluted, and is impossible to "test" in any way I find
          > > meaningful. How does one "test" one of Wright's "hypotheses"?

          Ricki Watts replied:
          > Your observation is fair enough, but I would urge that this is to be
          > expected in any new paradigm. It takes time to isolate all the elements and
          > then begin to test their explanatory power.
          > It seems to me that what is going here is exactly what happened with Tycho,
          > Galileo, Newton, Darwin, etc. A new paradigm is proposed, sketchy and broad
          > brush at first but then under examination fine tuning or whatever occurs.
          > I would argue that testing Wright's hypothesis is exactly what is going on
          > in e.g. the dialogue between himself, Crossan, and Borg (in print and at
          > e.g. SBL). E.g. did Israel conceive of itself as still being in some
          > significant way in exile? Let's look at the texts and then try to see if
          > this hypothesis makes better sense of what we know of first cent Israel. I
          > think Wright's hypothesis is as testable as any other currently on offer
          > (and more so than some).

          I think it is really to overstate the case to put a fellow like NT Wright
          in the same exalted company as Tycho, Galileo, Newton and Darwin.
          Wright is hardly an intellectual and scientific giant who´s revolutionary
          ideas are far ahead of his time. Quite to the contrary. The simple fact
          is that Wright's so called method, critical realism, takes us back to the
          stoneage in biblical studies. It is also a gross misuse of semantics to
          call what he is doing critical realism since the method is neither "critical"
          nor "realistic" in any true sense.
          That said there are actually some parts of Wright's overall hypothesis
          that can be tested and have been tested, among other things his claim
          that (a majority of ) Israel believed itself to be still in exile. Few, if any
          experts on firstcentury Judaism would agree with him about that. A
          survey of the existing texts from the time do not indicate that this belief
          was in any way widespread among Jews in Palestine.
          Other parts of Wright's claims, like his ideas on the use of the Son of Man
          "title" in the first century and his assertion that Jews didn't take apocalyptic
          language litterally, have also been tested and found to stand on extremely
          shaky ground. Since his premises are faulty from the start his construction
          has fallen to the ground.

          > > I hope you will enter into some of the XTalk debates and *show* us how
          > > this is true, so that we can see the virtues thereof. It seems that most
          > > Xtalkers must be from Missouri, judging by our "show me" attitude.

          > Fine; I'll try. But I think that Wright's model (and again, he's part of
          > the English tradition that includes Caird, Dodd, et al) is pretty good at
          > fitting most of the basic data in. I can't think of another that so
          > integrates Jesus into Israel's story, as expressed by its signs and symbols.
          > My own work included some study on the role of ideology in shaping a
          > community's self-understanding (I'd already done some work in Art History on
          > a kind of "symbol" intertextuality).

          And I claim that Wright is very bad at making basic data fit with his
          model. I would also claim without hesitation that Wright is intellectually
          dishonest when he leaves out data that contradicts the picture he is
          trying to paint. I don't think it is because of tiredness or oversight that
          Wright doesn't mention a scene like Matthew's last Judgement when
          arguing for his highly controversial ideas about what the Parousia meant
          to the early Christians.


          >The social theorists I had read led to
          > me respond very positively to Tom's ideological model (can I call it that?).
          > I think a key is how one understands apocalyptic. The bit of work I did in
          > intertestamental Jewish literature and social theory makes me think that
          > they never envisaged an end to space-time history. My reading of Genesis
          > and Israel's conceptualizing of creation suggests to me that they could
          > never countenance an end to time or creation. I think Tom (a la Caird) is
          > quite right (and I'm sorry if this has been worked through before) that
          > apocalyptic is metaphor and code which invests temporal events with their
          > true meaning.

          And I think Tom (a la Caird) has also on this matter been shown to
          be quite wrong. Many firstcentury Jews could and did actually take
          apocalyptic language quite literally and did actually believe that
          at the end of time the cosmos was going to be radically transformed
          by God. See Allison's book for a good survey of some of the evidence.
          But the best evidence is still actually the NT writings.

          > > If you can show us that this is true, you'll get converts. If you can't,
          > > your opinions won't matter. I would like to see how you apply critical
          > > realism to specific cases. In other words, let's apply this philosophy to
          > > some evidence so we can see how it works.

          > Again, I would simply point to Wright. Obviously the details need working
          > out as with any new emerging paradigm, but by and large I can't see that
          > he's missed much (unless of course one already has some assumptions the
          > nature of reality that cause one to begin to dismiss this or that piece of
          > data ...and there in lies the rub). Does that help?

          It doesn't help me very much. There are certainly many "details" in Wright's
          thesis that have to be explained if most critical scholars are going to take
          him seriously. One such "detail" that Wright stubbornly refuses to answer
          in his books is if there is any Jesus sayings that the gospel writers made
          up themselves. If the answer is affirmative the next question Wright should
          logically answer is in what way he will be able to distinguish between genuine
          Jesus sayings and madeup ones. And if the gospel writers did indeed make
          up Jesus sayings what says that they couldn't make also make up an artificial
          frame, a story, for their mixture of genuine and invented Jesus sayings. If that
          is the case, how is Wright going to find out how much of the storyworld is to be
          attributed to the gospel writers and how much to Jesus?

          Best wishes

          Antonio Jerez
          Goteborg, Sweden
        • Robert M Schacht
          On Wed, 26 Jan 2000 22:28:23 +0100 Antonio Jerez ... that ... meant ... Antonio, This kind of ad hominem does not belong on the new XTalk. You could get away
          Message 4 of 14 , Jan 26, 2000
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            On Wed, 26 Jan 2000 22:28:23 +0100 Antonio Jerez
            <antonio.jerez@...> writes:
            > ... I would also claim without hesitation that Wright is intellectually
            > dishonest when he leaves out data that contradicts the picture he is
            > trying to paint. I don't think it is because of tiredness or oversight
            that
            > Wright doesn't mention a scene like Matthew's last Judgement when
            > arguing for his highly controversial ideas about what the Parousia
            meant
            > to the early Christians. ...

            Antonio,
            This kind of ad hominem does not belong on the new XTalk. You could get
            away with this kind of attack on the old, unmoderated CrossTalk, but a
            charge of intellectual dishonesty does not belong here. The new,
            moderated XTalk was established expressly for the purpose of regulating
            attacks such as this.

            You have every right to argue against Wright, and Rikki's defense of
            Wright's ideas, but leave the ad hominem attacks out.

            Bob
          • Antonio Jerez
            Bob Schacht wrote: On Wed, 26 Jan 2000 22:28:23 +0100 Antonio Jerez ... that ... meant ... Yes, I guess I overstepped myself since I cannot prove that Wright
            Message 5 of 14 , Jan 26, 2000
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              Bob Schacht wrote:
               
              On Wed, 26 Jan 2000 22:28:23 +0100 Antonio Jerez
              antonio.jere-@... writes:
              > ... I would also claim without hesitation that Wright is
              intellectually
              > dishonest when he leaves out data that contradicts the
              picture he is
              > trying to paint. I don't think it is because of tiredness
              or oversight
              that
              > Wright doesn't mention a scene like Matthew's last
              Judgement when
              > arguing for his highly controversial ideas about what the
              Parousia
              meant
              > to the early Christians.
              ...

              >>Antonio,
              >>This kind of ad hominem does not belong
              on the new XTalk. You could get
              >>away with this kind of attack on the
              old, unmoderated CrossTalk, but a
              >>charge of intellectual dishonesty
              does not belong here. The new,
              >>moderated XTalk was established
              expressly for the purpose of regulating
              >>attacks such as
              this.

              >>You have every right to argue against Wright, and Rikki's
              defense of
              >>Wright's ideas, but leave the ad hominem attacks
              out.
               
              Yes, I guess I overstepped myself since I cannot prove that Wright has
              left out a discussion of Matthew's Last Judgement because this piece
              doesn't fit his puzzle. Theoretically it could be because of oversight,
              though I doubt it. One of the reasons why I respect Crossan much more
              than Wright as a scholar is that I don't find Crossan "forgetting" about
              important pieces in the puzzle. Crossan discusses everything in detail and
              puts all the cards on the table for everybody to see. You may not always
              agree with his arguments for this or that puzzle piece being authentic or fitting
              into his reconstructed puzzle, but at least everything is discussed openly.
               
              Best wishes
               
              Antonio Jerez
              Göteborg, Sweden

            • Jack Kilmon
              Antonio Jerez wrote:I think it is really to overstate the case to put a fellow like NT Wright ... Antonio: This style of exchange involving ad hominem is not
              Message 6 of 14 , Jan 27, 2000
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                Antonio Jerez wrote:I think it is really to overstate the case to put a fellow like
                NT Wright

                > in the same exalted company as Tycho, Galileo, Newton and Darwin.
                > Wright is hardly an intellectual and scientific giant who´s revolutionary
                > ideas are far ahead of his time. Quite to the contrary. The simple fact
                > is that Wright's so called method, critical realism, takes us back to the
                > stoneage in biblical studies.

                > And I claim that Wright is very bad at making basic data fit with his
                > model. I would also claim without hesitation that Wright is intellectually
                > dishonest when he leaves out data that contradicts the picture he is
                > trying to paint.

                Antonio:

                This style of exchange involving ad hominem is not really what we want
                to see on Xtalk. C'mon...you know better than this.

                Jack

                --
                ______________________________________________

                taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon

                Jack Kilmon
                jkilmon@...

                http://www.historian.net

                sharing a meal for free.
                http://www.thehungersite.com/
              • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                ... One explanation of this is that the Matthean story is discussed and shown to be more Matthean than authentically dominical in a work which Tom presupposes
                Message 7 of 14 , Jan 27, 2000
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                  Antonio Jerez wrote:
                  Bob Schacht wrote: >>Antonio,
                  >>This kind of ad hominem does not belong on the new XTalk. You could get
                  >>away with this kind of attack on the old, unmoderated CrossTalk, but a
                  >>charge of intellectual dishonesty does not belong here. The new,
                  >>moderated XTalk was established expressly for the purpose of regulating
                  >>attacks such as this.

                  >>You have every right to argue against Wright, and Rikki's defense of
                  >>Wright's ideas, but leave the ad hominem attacks out. Yes, I guess I overstepped myself since I cannot prove that Wright hasleft out a discussion of Matthew's Last Judgement because this piecedoesn't fit his puzzle. Theoretically it could be because of oversight,though I doubt it. One of the reasons why I respect Crossan much morethan Wright as a scholar is that I don't find Crossan "forgetting" aboutimportant pieces in the puzzle. Crossan discusses everything in detail andputs all the cards on the table for everybody to see. You may not alwaysagree with his arguments for this or that puzzle piece being authentic or fittinginto his reconstructed puzzle, but at least everything is discussed openly.


                  One explanation of this is that the Matthean story is discussed and shown to be more Matthean than authentically dominical in a work which Tom presupposes as foundational for his discussion, namely, Marcus Borg's _Conflict, Politics, and Holiness in the Teaching of Jesus_ (a revision of Borg's Oxford D.Phil. Thesis carried out under George Caird -- who also supervised Tom's [and my] D.Phil. work). Evidence that Tom is well aware of the Matthean scene, and why he rejects it as not relevant to his thesis, can be found in his additions to Stephen Neil's _The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1961_ and in his introduction to the reprint of Borg's book.

                  Yours,

                  Jeffrey

                  --
                  Jeffrey B. Gibson
                  7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
                  Chicago, Illinois 60626
                  e-mail jgibson000@...
                   

                • Rikki E. Watts
                  ... Antonio, I am not entirely sure how to respond to you. First, you ve missed my point, which was not Wright s intellectual status (it is not mentioned) but
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jan 27, 2000
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                    Antonio wrote:

                    > I think it is really to overstate the case to put a fellow like NT Wright
                    > in the same exalted company as Tycho, Galileo, Newton and Darwin.
                    > Wright is hardly an intellectual and scientific giant who´s revolutionary
                    > ideas are far ahead of his time. Quite to the contrary. The simple fact
                    > is that Wright's so called method, critical realism, takes us back to the
                    > stoneage in biblical studies. It is also a gross misuse of semantics to
                    > call what he is doing critical realism since the method is neither "critical"
                    > nor "realistic" in any true sense.
                    > That said there are actually some parts of Wright's overall hypothesis
                    > that can be tested and have been tested, among other things his claim
                    > that (a majority of ) Israel believed itself to be still in exile. Few, if any
                    > experts on firstcentury Judaism would agree with him about that. A
                    > survey of the existing texts from the time do not indicate that this belief
                    > was in any way widespread among Jews in Palestine.
                    > Other parts of Wright's claims, like his ideas on the use of the Son of Man
                    > "title" in the first century and his assertion that Jews didn't take
                    > apocalyptic
                    > language litterally, have also been tested and found to stand on extremely
                    > shaky ground. Since his premises are faulty from the start his construction
                    > has fallen to the ground.

                    Antonio, I am not entirely sure how to respond to you. First, you've missed
                    my point, which was not Wright's intellectual status (it is not mentioned)
                    but rather to illustrate, using well-known (!) examples, what happens when a
                    new paradigm shift is introduced. Is Wright's a significantly new paradigm?
                    I think so (and so apparently do most of his reviewers). His attempt to
                    start first with a community's sense of story (rather than a positivist view
                    of history) as a more holistic way of integrating large sets of data is new
                    (in the sense that he is probably the first to lay it out in such a
                    systematic way), and quite a significant shift from more Baconian approaches
                    that have characterized much of recent biblical studies. To those of us who
                    have done some work in the role of ideology in constructing a community's
                    sense of identity (interacting with the work of e.g. Weber, Ricoeur, Ellul,
                    Castoriadis, Halpern, Mullins, Grimes, Gottwald, etc.) much of this rings
                    true. While of course Wright has his precursors (he admits e.g. his
                    indebtedness to Caird), I am not aware of anyone else who has attempted such
                    a large scale integrated model. In the reviews I've read even his critics
                    credit him with this.

                    If you are concerned about overstatement, I wonder how you would
                    characterize your "stoneage" remark? Marcus Borg, even if he disagrees with
                    Wright, hardly shares your view. I am not here to defend Wright's
                    intellectual abilities, but I do think remarks of a personal nature are
                    somewhat inappropriate at any time but especially on a list like this (or at
                    least I should have hoped they are). However, e.g. Marcus Borg in print
                    describes Wright as "brilliant", remarking among other things on his
                    encyclopedic knowledge, and regarding him as "among the half-dozen most
                    brilliant people I know" (among whom Borg does not even include himself; see
                    Newman, ed. JESUS AND THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL, 227). But not only Borg;
                    surely it is not without reason that Wright is regarded as one of the major
                    players at all the SBL Jesus sessions. Borg and the others might be mistaken
                    and you might be right. On the other hand, Borg I know, and Wright I know,
                    but ...

                    As to critical realism, I should like to see how you justify your
                    rhetoric--it sounds impressive, but is it true? In what sense neither
                    critical or real?

                    As to Israel still thinking itself in exile, I should like to know exactly
                    who has demonstrated that this is false. C.A. Evans' recent essay, in
                    Newman cited above pp.77-100, surveys exactly this data and strongly affirms
                    Wright over against e.g. Casey. I came to a similar conclusion
                    independently during my PhD studies in the late 80's at Cambridge (including
                    some comments by Churgin as cited in Smolar and Auerbach's work on the
                    Targums whom I would regard as having some degree of expertise on early
                    Judaism; see my ISAIAH'S NEW EXODUS IN MARK, WUNT 2.88, infra). Although
                    there is always the danger of overstatement in any newly postulated idea
                    (especially when it runs counter to the received tradition), it seems to me
                    that your dismissal is premature and not indicative of the present state of
                    the debate. I would certainly appreciate any counter-evidence.

                    On the significance/meaning of apocalyptic language (not actually a new idea
                    to Wright, Caird already suggested as much in his LANGUAGE AND IMAGERY), I
                    have not seen these convincing refutations (which book of Allison's do you
                    have in mind?). Again I would appreciate same if you wouldn't mind posting
                    your data or sources.

                    > And I claim that Wright is very bad at making basic data fit with his
                    > model. I would also claim without hesitation that Wright is intellectually
                    > dishonest when he leaves out data that contradicts the picture he is
                    > trying to paint. I don't think it is because of tiredness or oversight that
                    > Wright doesn't mention a scene like Matthew's last Judgement when
                    > arguing for his highly controversial ideas about what the Parousia meant
                    > to the early Christians.
                    "Very bad" sounds rather extravagant language to me but your accusation of
                    intellectual dishonesty is a very serious accusation indeed (whence this
                    penchant for personal attack?). I hope you have very good evidence before
                    impugning someone's reputation publicly like this (I've not heard Crossan or
                    Borg ever say such things about Wright). You may disagree with Wright, but
                    unless you know exactly why data is not included, I would suggest that
                    charity is the appropriate mark of mature scholarship. On the substantive
                    question, I think one of the major problems with the parousia debate is that
                    it (a) assumes a singular and eschatological event, and (b) doesn't start
                    with the ancient models of city entries which surely predate any Christian
                    analogy (see Catchpole, Duff, Kinman). If we begin with the city entries of
                    great ones, then Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and subsequent action in the
                    Temple is in fact entirely consistent with such a parousia, and on this same
                    model for him to be rejected/snubbed is to invite a second parousia (hence
                    Mt's use of the term) which entails the destruction of the rebellious city
                    (as per Alexander and Tyre). Methodologically speaking, we ought to begin
                    here with the larger ancient context rather than reading a later Christian
                    theological development back into the LoJ. Wright may well omit what you
                    regard as Mt's references to the last judgment, not for perverse reasons,
                    but simply because they are not integral to the parousia in view when Jesus
                    answers the disciples' question re the Temple. In other words there is a
                    set of parousias that concern Jerusalem, and then another for the world at
                    large (Israel's story is a microcosm of the story of the world). Perhaps a
                    more sympathetic reading would go a long way toward clearing up some of
                    these, to my mind, misplaced criticisms. (Hard to do I know when someone
                    takes a different and perhaps uncomfortable approach. E.g. I'm not at all
                    suggesting that this describes you, but in my discussions I've sometimes
                    felt that the response to Wright is at least as governed by a kind of
                    intellectual racism or snobbery--his results look too traditional or
                    conservative (more in the US), or he doesn't have a real scholar's job or
                    he's too popularist (more in the UK)--as a genuine wrestling with his
                    arguments.

                    > It doesn't help me very much. There are certainly many "details" in Wright's
                    > thesis that have to be explained if most critical scholars are going to take
                    > him seriously. One such "detail" that Wright stubbornly refuses to answer
                    > in his books is if there is any Jesus sayings that the gospel writers made
                    > up themselves. If the answer is affirmative the next question Wright should
                    > logically answer is in what way he will be able to distinguish between genuine
                    > Jesus sayings and madeup ones. And if the gospel writers did indeed make
                    > up Jesus sayings what says that they couldn't make also make up an artificial
                    > frame, a story, for their mixture of genuine and invented Jesus sayings. If
                    > that is the case, how is Wright going to find out how much of the storyworld
                    is to be attributed to the gospel writers and how much to Jesus?
                    I'm not sure this is accurate. If you've read NEW TESTAMENT AND THE PEOPLE
                    OF GOD you will know that Wright is somewhat skeptical of this received
                    tradition that gospel writers invented sayings wholesale (see e.g. also
                    Bailey's article on oral village tradition which is informal but controlled
                    and seems to explain a great deal of the shape of the various gospel
                    stories). One must surely be aware of the raft of assumptions about the
                    nature of tradition, the effectiveness of various criterion used to
                    establish authenticity (presumably I don't need to articulate the serious
                    problems with this method), the nature of the development of the early
                    church, and more importantly that so often we have assumed we know in
                    advance what Jesus could or could not have said based on some presupposition
                    about the nature of Jesus' self-understanding and what his remarks (e.g. on
                    the SoM) meant--hence my first remarks on Wrede's final repudiation of his
                    messianic secret thesis, etc. etc. Perhaps it is time to re-examine some of
                    these assumptions.

                    Given this, Wright would not grant the first premise of your syllogism. But
                    even if he did allow some sayings were 'invented' I'm not sure that it
                    necessarily follows that the gospel writers would also then invent aspects
                    of the larger integrated story which is of another order altogether. One
                    could well imagine someone creating sayings to fit a received larger story
                    line while showing great respect for the larger story itself. One can't
                    just assume this; and in any case what about the dangers of multiplying
                    hypotheses?

                    But here too I'm not sure about your account. The story world Wright talks
                    about is not initially derived from the gospels but rather from the Tanach
                    and intertestamental literature. Only after doing this does he seek to make
                    sense of Jesus within this larger story. The high degree of coherence
                    between the two (without having to dismiss any of the major outlines
                    reflected in the sayings--and actions; why do we only concern ourselves with
                    the sayings, surely Sanders has pointed out the need to pay attention to
                    Jesus' actions/signs/mighty deeds) is surely one of the key elements of
                    theory selection in science. I have a lot of time for someone who can fit
                    most of the data in (perhaps its my background in the sciences) whereas I am
                    extremely skeptical of approaches that rule out hard data beforehand on
                    other rather less than concrete grounds.

                    What critics would need to show is that Wright has included not just sayings
                    here and there which can be shown to be invented (on grounds apart from an a
                    priori assumption of what Jesus could or could not have said) but rather a
                    whole collection of sayings which bear witness to a substantial element in
                    his model. One might include here e.g. the SoM in future glory sayings.
                    The question here it seems to me is whether one assumes that SoM language is
                    concrete or, in the mouth of Jesus, entirely a metaphor for vindication.
                    Appealing to 1 Enoch may not help since there is no reason to assume that
                    Jesus has to use SoM in the same sense (after all he is not the author of 1
                    Enoch). Given the extraordinarily creative manner in which the NT authors
                    use the OT (but I don't mean this pejoratively), it might not be at all
                    surprising if Jesus too used OT images at least sometimes in his own unique
                    way. The question is, how can one tell?

                    Sincerely



                    Dr. R. E. Watts (PhD, Cantab) Phone (604) 224 3245
                    Regent College, Fax (604) 224 3097
                    5800 University Boulevard
                    Vancouver, BC
                    CANADA V6T 2E4
                  • Rikki E. Watts
                    Thanks Jacob, I ll have a look at this. Blessings Rikk
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jan 28, 2000
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                      Thanks Jacob,

                      I'll have a look at this.

                      Blessings
                      Rikk

                      > From: "Jacob Knee" <jknee@...>
                      > Reply-To: crosstalk2@egroups.com
                      > Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 16:25:43 -0000
                      > To: <crosstalk2@egroups.com>
                      > Subject: [XTalk] Re: Critical realism
                      >
                      > FWIW I thought the surprising thing about Evans article was it's reluctance
                      > to deal with the non- textual. His analysis remains wholly at the tevel of
                      > textual ideologies. That's great but Wright's claims are about more than
                      > textual ideology - he is making claims about communities and their
                      > self-understanding.
                      >
                      > Prima facie, that we know that tens of thousands of people continued to use
                      > the Temple is an argument against Wright's thesis.
                      >
                      > I also think Allison's article in the collection you referreed to, is a
                      > strong counter statement of the non-metaphorical understanding of
                      > apocalyptic. For a fuller statement see 'Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian
                      > Prophet'. 'Refutation' is a surprising word - but a more plausible
                      > interpretation of the data - my own tentative view is, I think so.
                      >
                      >
                      > MHO,
                      > Jacob Knee
                      > (Boston, England)
                      >
                      >> -----Original Message-----
                      >> From: Rikki E. Watts [mailto:rwatts@...]
                      >> Sent: 28 January 2000 05:55
                      >> To: crosstalk2@egroups.com
                      >> Subject: [XTalk] Re: Critical realism
                      >>
                      >> As to Israel still thinking itself in exile, I should like to know exactly
                      >> who has demonstrated that this is false. C.A. Evans' recent essay, in
                      >> Newman cited above pp.77-100, surveys exactly this data and
                      >> strongly affirms
                      >> Wright over against e.g. Casey. I came to a similar conclusion
                      >> independently during my PhD studies in the late 80's at Cambridge
                      >> (including
                      >> some comments by Churgin as cited in Smolar and Auerbach's work on the
                      >> Targums whom I would regard as having some degree of expertise on early
                      >> Judaism; see my ISAIAH'S NEW EXODUS IN MARK, WUNT 2.88, infra). Although
                      >> there is always the danger of overstatement in any newly postulated idea
                      >> (especially when it runs counter to the received tradition), it
                      >> seems to me
                      >> that your dismissal is premature and not indicative of the
                      >> present state of
                      >> the debate. I would certainly appreciate any counter-evidence.
                      >>
                      >> On the significance/meaning of apocalyptic language (not actually
                      >> a new idea
                      >> to Wright, Caird already suggested as much in his LANGUAGE AND IMAGERY), I
                      >> have not seen these convincing refutations (which book of Allison's do you
                      >> have in mind?). Again I would appreciate same if you wouldn't mind posting
                      >> your data or sources.
                      >>
                      >
                      >
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                    • Jacob Knee
                      FWIW I thought the surprising thing about Evans article was it s reluctance to deal with the non- textual. His analysis remains wholly at the tevel of textual
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jan 28, 2000
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                        FWIW I thought the surprising thing about Evans article was it's reluctance
                        to deal with the non- textual. His analysis remains wholly at the tevel of
                        textual ideologies. That's great but Wright's claims are about more than
                        textual ideology - he is making claims about communities and their
                        self-understanding.

                        Prima facie, that we know that tens of thousands of people continued to use
                        the Temple is an argument against Wright's thesis.

                        I also think Allison's article in the collection you referreed to, is a
                        strong counter statement of the non-metaphorical understanding of
                        apocalyptic. For a fuller statement see 'Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian
                        Prophet'. 'Refutation' is a surprising word - but a more plausible
                        interpretation of the data - my own tentative view is, I think so.


                        MHO,
                        Jacob Knee
                        (Boston, England)

                        > -----Original Message-----
                        > From: Rikki E. Watts [mailto:rwatts@...]
                        > Sent: 28 January 2000 05:55
                        > To: crosstalk2@egroups.com
                        > Subject: [XTalk] Re: Critical realism
                        >
                        > As to Israel still thinking itself in exile, I should like to know exactly
                        > who has demonstrated that this is false. C.A. Evans' recent essay, in
                        > Newman cited above pp.77-100, surveys exactly this data and
                        > strongly affirms
                        > Wright over against e.g. Casey. I came to a similar conclusion
                        > independently during my PhD studies in the late 80's at Cambridge
                        > (including
                        > some comments by Churgin as cited in Smolar and Auerbach's work on the
                        > Targums whom I would regard as having some degree of expertise on early
                        > Judaism; see my ISAIAH'S NEW EXODUS IN MARK, WUNT 2.88, infra). Although
                        > there is always the danger of overstatement in any newly postulated idea
                        > (especially when it runs counter to the received tradition), it
                        > seems to me
                        > that your dismissal is premature and not indicative of the
                        > present state of
                        > the debate. I would certainly appreciate any counter-evidence.
                        >
                        > On the significance/meaning of apocalyptic language (not actually
                        > a new idea
                        > to Wright, Caird already suggested as much in his LANGUAGE AND IMAGERY), I
                        > have not seen these convincing refutations (which book of Allison's do you
                        > have in mind?). Again I would appreciate same if you wouldn't mind posting
                        > your data or sources.
                        >
                      • Antonio Jerez
                        Antonio Jerez wrote:
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jan 28, 2000
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Antonio Jerez wrote:
                          <Yes, I guess I overstepped myself since I cannot prove that Wright hasleft out a <discussion of Matthew's Last Judgement because this piecedoesn't fit his puzzle. <Theoretically it could be because of oversight,though I doubt it. One of the reasons <why I respect Crossan much morethan Wright as a scholar is that I don't find <Crossan "forgetting" aboutimportant pieces in the puzzle. Crossan discusses <everything in detail andputs all the cards on the table for everybody to see. You <may not alwaysagree with his arguments for this or that puzzle piece being <authentic or fittinginto his reconstructed puzzle, but at least everything is discussed <openly.

                          Jeffrey B Gibson replied:
                          >>One explanation of this is that the Matthean story is discussed and shown to be more Matthean than authentically dominical in a work which Tom presupposes as foundational for his discussion, namely, Marcus Borg's _Conflict, Politics, and Holiness in the Teaching of Jesus_ (a revision of Borg's Oxford D.Phil. Thesis carried out under George Caird -- who also supervised Tom's [and my] D.Phil. work). Evidence that Tom is well aware of the Matthean scene, and why he rejects it as not relevant to his thesis, can be found in his additions to Stephen Neil's _The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1961_ and in his introduction to the reprint of Borg's book.

                          Yours,

                          >>Jeffrey

                          --

                          Jeffrey,

                          thanks for the information. I do actually recall that I read the Neil/Wright book

                          years ago though I do not remember Wright discussing Matthew’s last Judgement

                          specifically. Since I don’t have the book available at the moment my comments

                          on that one will have to wait. But I did get hold of the new edition of the Borg

                          book and cannot actually find any discussion about Mtt 25 in the introduction

                          you refer to, just the usual sweeping generalisations about ancients Jews not

                          taking apocalyptic metaphor literally. Which page are you referring to?

                          But even if Wright concludes that Matthew’s last Judgement is largely dominical

                          I cannot fathom how he argues that this piece of the puzzle is not relevant

                          to his thesis. On what grounds does he conclude that this Son of Man/Parousia

                          scene is dominical and irrelevant to his thesis that the Parousia refers to the

                          destruction of Jerusalem, while he treats a pericope like Mtt 24:29-31/Mk 13:24-27

                          as genuine Jesus stuff? I don’t find any discussion worth the name as to how and

                          why in his "Jesus and the Victory of God". As I and most other exegetes see it

                          Mtt. 25:31-46 is just a Matthean elaboration of what exactly is about to happen

                          after the Son of Man arrives in Mtt. 24:29-31. And since Mtt. 25 spells out the

                          details it shows that at least one early Christian, the author of Gmatthew, did not

                          see the fall of Jerusalem as the Parousia or the ultimate vindication of Jesus and

                          his followers. The fall of Jerusalem is just a prelude to the Parousia.

                          It’s also fun to hear that you have had Caird yourself as teacher. How do

                          you take his ideas on the use of apocalyptic language in the gospels?

                          Best wishes

                          Antonio Jerez

                          Goteborg, Sweden

                        • Antonio Jerez
                          Ricki Watts wrote: ...
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jan 29, 2000
                          • 0 Attachment

                            Ricki Watts wrote:

                            Antonio wrote:

                            > I think it is really to
                            overstate the case to put a fellow like NT Wright
                            > in the same exalted
                            company as Tycho, Galileo, Newton and Darwin.
                            > Wright is hardly an
                            intellectual and scientific giant who´s revolutionary
                            > ideas are far
                            ahead of his time. Quite to the contrary. The simple fact
                            > is that
                            Wright's so called method, critical realism, takes us back to the
                            >
                            stoneage in biblical studies. It is also a gross misuse of semantics to
                            >
                            call what he is doing critical realism since the method is neither "critical"
                            > nor "realistic" in any true sense.
                            > That said there
                            are actually some parts of Wright's overall hypothesis
                            > that can be
                            tested and have been tested, among other things his claim
                            > that (a
                            majority of ) Israel believed itself to be still in exile. Few, if any
                            >
                            experts on firstcentury Judaism would agree with him about that. A
                            >
                            survey of the existing texts from the time do not indicate that this belief
                            > was in any way widespread among Jews in Palestine.
                            > Other
                            parts of Wright's claims, like his ideas on the use of the Son of Man
                            >
                            "title" in the first century and his assertion that Jews didn't take
                            >
                            apocalyptic
                            > language litterally, have also been tested and found to
                            stand on extremely
                            > shaky ground. Since his premises are faulty from the
                            start his construction
                            > has fallen to the ground.

                            <<Antonio, I am not entirely sure how to respond to you. First, you've missed
                            <<my point, which was not Wright's intellectual status (it is not mentioned)
                            <<but rather to illustrate, using well-known (!) examples, what happens when a
                            <<new paradigm shift is introduced. Is Wright's a significantly new paradigm?
                            <<I think so (and so apparently do most of his reviewers). His attempt to
                            <<start first with a community's sense of story (rather than a positivist view
                            <<of history) as a more holistic way of integrating large sets of data is new
                            <<(in the sense that he is probably the first to lay it out in such a
                            <<systematic way), and quite a significant shift from more Baconian approaches
                            <<that have characterized much of recent biblical studies. To those of us who
                            <<have done some work in the role of ideology in constructing a community's
                            <<sense of identity (interacting with the work of e.g. Weber, Ricoeur, Ellul,
                            <<Castoriadis, Halpern, Mullins, Grimes, Gottwald, etc.) much of this rings
                            <<true. While of course Wright has his precursors (he admits e.g. his
                            <<indebtedness to Caird), I am not aware of anyone else who has attempted such
                            <<a large scale integrated model. In the reviews I've read even his critics
                            <<credit him with this.

                            Ricki,
                            thanks for your comments. You are of course entiteled to believe that Wright
                            has offered us a "significantly new paradigm", just as the reviewers you refer
                            to. As for myself I still don't see what is "significantly new" about Wrights method.
                            To read the gospel story(ies) as basically the historical Jesus own story is
                            nothing new - most Christians have done it throughout the centuries. And to
                            compare this story and see if any Jews in the first century could have made
                            sense of it is nothing new either. Even if we admit that Wright has
                            found a good way for comparing stories (i.e Israels story versus the Christian
                            story) I don't see how this will take us very far in the search for the story that
                            the historical Jesus offered himself. What if, as most critical scholars agree
                            today, Mark's story is far from identical with Jesus story? What if, and there
                            are ample signs in the gospel stories of this, an important storythread like

                            the suffering Son of Man an his future vindication at the Parousia is
                            an artificial story made up by the early Church that has been blended with
                            parts of HJ:s own story. To do as Wright does and be content with comparing
                            stories with stories doesn't really take us very far when dealing with a culture like
                            firstcentury Israel where litterary forms like "midrash", among others, were used
                            to subvert, change and challenge earlier storyworlds that other Jewish groups
                            had created (see for example the Pentateuch versus the book of Jubilee).
                            A further problem is that Wright isn't even good at interpreting neither the Israel
                            story (did there ever exist one Israel story that all Jewish groups were agreed
                            about?) nor the Christian story that challenges and "subverts" earlier Israel
                            stories. I'm quite convinced that Mark, Matthew and and Luke must be tumbling
                            around in their graves (or in heaven) when seeing the way Wright is making
                            a travesty of the Parousia expectations they were so anxious to impart on
                            their Christian brethren who were starting to loose hope that the ultimate Victory
                            of God was really at hand.

                            >>If you
                            are concerned about overstatement, I wonder how you would
                            >>characterize your "stoneage" remark? Marcus Borg, even if he
                            disagrees with
                            >>Wright, hardly shares your view. I am not here to
                            defend Wright's
                            >>intellectual abilities, but I do think remarks of a
                            personal nature are
                            >>somewhat inappropriate at any time but especially
                            on a list like this (or at
                            >>least I should have hoped they are).
                            However, e.g. Marcus Borg in printge
                            >>describes Wright as
                            "brilliant", remarking among other things on his
                            >>encyclopedic
                            knowledge, and regarding him as "among the half-dozen most
                            >>brilliant
                            people I know" (among whom Borg does not even include himself; see
                            >>Newman, ed. JESUS AND THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL, 227). But not
                            only Borg;
                            >>surely it is not without reason that Wright is regarded as
                            one of the major
                            >>players at all the SBL Jesus sessions. Borg and the
                            others might be mistaken
                            >>and you might be right. On the other hand,
                            Borg I know, and Wright I know,
                            >>but ...

                            I have already admitted that my earlier comments about Wright being

                            "dishonest" were inappropiate. But I still think Wright´s scholarship and

                            his way of arguing for his case is far from good. Those who have known

                            me for long on this list are also well aware that Marcus Borg isn´t one of

                            my favourites. Both Borg and Wright have an irritating tendency of making

                            sweeping claims without much backup from the ancient sources or the

                            gospels.

                            As to the "stoneage" remark I still don´t think it is that far from the mark.

                            I think many, probably a majority of the scholars on the list, would agre

                            with me that exegetics that totally discards hardwon tools like formcriticism,

                            redactioncriticism and litterary criticism takes us back to the stoneage in our

                            academic field.

                            >>As to critical realism, I should like to see
                            how you justify your
                            >>rhetoric--it sounds impressive, but is it true?
                            In what sense neither
                            >>critical or real?

                            By not being critical I mean that Wright doesn´t bother to ask the hard

                            questions that most modern scholars tend to ask i.e how much have the

                            creativity of the gospel writers influenced the Jesus sayings and how much

                            of the Jesus story is due to the theological creativity of them. By not being

                            critical I also mean that I seldom see Wright asking probing questions about

                            the historical veracity of things like the trial scene in the gospels. By not

                            having much to do with realism I mean that Wright does appear to be blissfully

                            ignorant about antrophology, sociology and comparative religion which leads

                            him to often come to conclusions (i.e the miraculous has to be involved) that

                            can be explained in much simpler and realistic ways.


                            >>As to Israel still thinking itself in exile, I should like to
                            know exactly
                            >>who has demonstrated that this is false. C.A. Evans'
                            recent essay, in
                            >>Newman cited above pp.77-100, surveys exactly this
                            data and strongly affirms
                            >>Wright over against e.g. Casey. I came to a
                            similar conclusion
                            >>independently during my PhD studies in the late
                            80's at Cambridge (including
                            >>some comments by Churgin as cited in
                            Smolar and Auerbach's work on the
                            >>Targums whom I would regard as
                            having some degree of expertise on early
                            >>Judaism; see my ISAIAH'S NEW
                            EXODUS IN MARK, WUNT 2.88, infra). Although
                            >>there is always the
                            danger of overstatement in any newly postulated idea
                            >>(especially when
                            it runs counter to the received tradition), it seems to me
                            >>that your
                            dismissal is premature and not indicative of the present state of
                            >>the
                            debate. I would certainly appreciate any counter-evidence.

                            I haven´t read Evan´s essay so I don´t know what evidence he may have

                            unearthed. I don´t doubt at all that he can cite some texts that show that at

                            least some Jews believed themselves to be in some sense in exile. That is

                            not what I´m arguing against. What I object against is Wright´s sweeping

                            generalisation. The major Jewish groups we know about at the time were

                            the Essenes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees. As far as I know there is no evidence

                            whatsoever that the Sadducees thought that Israel was in exile while the people

                            were living in their land and the Temple was standing. The same can be claimed

                            for the Pharisees. One jewish group we know of, the Qumran people (which may

                            or may not be Essenes), do indeed appear to have believed themselves to be in exile in

                            the holy land, but that is because of a selfimposed "exile" into the desert because

                            of their belief that the ruling priestly class was illegitimate. The beliefs of one or two

                            tiny groups does not say much about the overall belief among the Jews.

                            If I do not recall wrongly there was an interesting discussion about this topic

                            In a book that I read some weeks ago – "Judaisms and their Messiahs at the

                            turn of the Christain era", ed. Neusner, Green, Frerich (Cambridge University

                            Press 1999).

                            >>On the significance/meaning of apocalyptic
                            language (not actually a new idea
                            >>to Wright, Caird already suggested
                            as much in his LANGUAGE AND IMAGERY), I
                            >>have not seen these
                            convincing refutations (which book of Allison's do you
                            >>have in
                            mind?). Again I would appreciate same if you wouldn't mind posting
                            >>your data or sources.

                            Jacob Knee has already mentioned the book I had in mind – Allison´s "Jesus"

                            millenarian prophet". On page 152-171 you will find the examples that shows

                            without a reason of a doubt that at least some ancient Jews, and "some" is all that

                            is needed to refute Wright’s position, did take apocalyptic imagery literally. As I

                            said before, Wright has this tendency to do sweeping genaralisations like his claim

                            that "all Jews understood a good metaphor when they saw one". This is simply not

                            true. SOME Jews may certainly have done it, but not ALL. I earlier complained about

                            Wright’s lack of knowledge in fields like antropology, sociology and compararative

                            religion and here it certainly shows. Experience from almost any religion shows that

                            what may from the beginning have started off as metaphoric or figurative language

                            is soon taken literally by later followers of the prophet or guru. Many of the passages

                            about the "Last days" and "resurrection" in the OT may very well have been meant

                            metaphorically by the authors, but by the first century (long after the texts were written)

                            many, many Jews – probably a majority – did take things very, very literally. Josephus,

                            among others, show that this is the case.

                            • And I claim that Wright is very bad at making basic data fit with his
                              > model. I would also claim without hesitation that Wright is
                              intellectually
                              > dishonest when he leaves out data that contradicts the
                              picture he is
                              > trying to paint. I don't think it is because of
                              tiredness or oversight that
                              > Wright doesn't mention a scene like
                              Matthew's last Judgement when
                              > arguing for his highly controversial
                              ideas about what the Parousia meant
                              > to the early
                              Christians.

                            >>"Very bad" sounds rather extravagant language to me but your

                            accusation of
                            <<intellectual dishonesty is a very serious accusation indeed (whence this
                            <<penchant for personal attack?). I hope you have very good evidence before
                            <<impugning someone's reputation publicly like this (I've not heard Crossan or
                            <<Borg ever say such things about Wright). You may disagree with Wright, but
                            <<unless you know exactly why data is not included, I would suggest that
                            <<charity is the appropriate mark of mature scholarship.

                            As I said: I have retracted that statement. But I still think it is a serious fault

                            of his book not to include a discussion of Mtt 25 (even if he already may have

                            discussed the topic in a book decades ago), or to explain in detail why Mtt

                            25 is left out while Mtt 24:29 isn´t.

                            >> On the substantive

                            <<question, I think one of the major problems with the parousia debate is that
                            <<it (a) assumes a singular and eschatological event, and (b) doesn't start
                            <<with the ancient models of city entries which surely predate any Christian
                            <<analogy (see Catchpole, Duff, Kinman). If we begin with the city entries of
                            <<great ones, then Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and subsequent action in the
                            <<Temple is in fact entirely consistent with such a parousia, and on this same
                            <<model for him to be rejected/snubbed is to invite a second parousia (hence
                            <<Mt's use of the term) which entails the destruction of the rebellious city
                            <<(as per Alexander and Tyre). Methodologically speaking, we ought to begin
                            <<here with the larger ancient context rather than reading a later Christian
                            <<theological development back into the LoJ.

                            I agree with you that it is always wise to look at the way the ancients

                            talked about about parousia (of high dignitaries) in "secular" circumstances.

                            But does this really tell us much about how a Jewish apocalyptic sect

                            redefined the expression when they wanted to say something about a

                            singular supernatural event? I don´t think so. It is after all quite telling

                            that not ONE early Church father understood the parousia of Jesus

                            Christ to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. I find it very strange indeed

                            that the metaphorical intentions of the gospel writers could have been so

                            totally lost at such an early stage. No, I do not think the Church fathers had

                            lost touch so completely with the earlier interpretative world of Mark, Matthew

                            and Luke – on the contrary. They knew very well what the parousia was all

                            about, and a careful reading of ALL the evidence in the synoptics will actually

                            show that Caird, Wright and others are offering us a fanciful, impossible reading.

                            >>Wright may well omit what you
                            >>regard as Mt's references to

                            the last judgment, not for perverse reasons,
                            >>but simply because they
                            are not integral to the parousia in view when Jesus
                            >>answers the
                            disciples' question re the Temple. In other words there is a
                            >>set of
                            parousias that concern Jerusalem, and then another for the world at
                            >>large (Israel's story is a microcosm of the story of the world).
                            Perhaps a
                            >>more sympathetic reading would go a long way toward
                            clearing up some of
                            >>these, to my mind, misplaced criticisms. (Hard to
                            do I know when someone
                            >>takes a different and perhaps uncomfortable
                            approach. E.g. I'm not at all
                            >>suggesting that this describes you, but
                            in my discussions I've sometimes
                            >>felt that the response to Wright is
                            at least as governed by a kind of
                            >>intellectual racism or
                            snobbery--his results look too traditional or
                            >>conservative (more in
                            the US), or he doesn't have a real scholar's job or
                            >>he's too
                            popularist (more in the UK)--as a genuine wrestling with his
                            >>arguments.

                            OK, let´s wrestle with some of Wright’s so called arguments. I will give you

                            an example. On page 360 of "Jesus and the Victory…) he starts his explanation

                            of what a pericope like Mk. 13:24-31 is all about. The verses read:

                            "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon

                            will not give its light and the stars will fall from heaven. For the powers of the

                            heavens shall be shaken. And then they shall see the Son of Man coming on the

                            clouds with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels and gather

                            in his chosen from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other…"

                            Wright writes: "Our interpretation of this section depends entirely upon the

                            Arguments advanced in chapter 10 of NTPG. Summarizing the results reached

                            there we can say that: the coming of the son of man does not refer to the parousia

                            in the modern scholarly and popular sense of a human figure traveling downwards

                            to earth on actual clouds. Nor does the phrase son of man refer to a superhuman

                            figure. Nothing in Daniel, in the rereadings of Daniel in the first century, or in the

                            teaching of Jesus as we have studied it pushes the reading in that direction…"

                            How well do Wright’s arguments in this particular passage stand up to scrutiny?

                            Not well at all in my opinion. I’m not going to argue with Wright that NO
                            JEW in the first century could have understood the passage about the son of man as refering

                            to a figure that stands as a metaphorical symbol for Israel or the people of God.

                            What I object to again is his sweeping generalisation and his oversight of important

                            evidence that paints a very different picture. So far I haven´t seen a single verse

                            either in Wright’s earlier books or in his later writings that shows that he is aware

                            of or has interacted with important articles on the subject written by John J Collins

                            and Thomas B. Slater. John Collins (The son of Man in firstcentury Judaism – NTS

                            vol.38 1992) and Thomas Slater (One like a son of man in first century judaism) show

                            convincingly that SOME firstcentury Jews did indeed take the figure described in Daniel

                            7 to be a superhuman figure, an angelic being, who was going to crush Israels enemies

                            and vindicate his people at the end of time. Slater’s article also show that angelic beings

                            are refered to both in some OT passages and the apocrypha as "like a son of man". The

                            figure in Daniel 7 is definitely an angel since another angel is later presented in chapter

                            8 as "like a son of man". These examples show that Wright’s cathegoric statement

                            about the interpretation of Daniel 7 is wrong. It also shows that there existed a trajectory

                            in Judaism were the "son of man" in Daniel was interpreted as a superhuman figure, and

                            it is exactly along this trajectory that we find the Son of Man imagery that gospel writers

                            developed in the NT.

                            Let´s take a look at another quote in Wright´s book at page 362-63. Wright continues

                            his interpretation of Mk. 13:24-31:

                            "The days of Jerusalem´s destruction would be looked upon as days of cosmic

                            catastrophe. The known world would go into convulsions; power struggles and

                            coup d´etat would be the order of the day; the pax romana, the presupposition

                            of civilized life throughout the then Mediterranena world would collapse into chaos.

                            In the midst of that chaos Jerusalem would fall. The ´son of man´ would thereby

                            be vindicated. That would be the sign that the followers of this ´son of man´ would

                            now spread throughout the world: his ´angels´, that is messengers, would summon

                            people from north, south, east and west to come and sit down with Abraham, Isaac

                            and Jacob in the kingdom of YHWH".

                            If I read Wright correctly he seems to be saying that Mark isn´t refering to supernatural

                            angels when he mentions ANGELOS in verse 13:24, instead he is talking about

                            Christian missionaries who are going to search the corners of the earth for converts.

                            The Son of Man is also in Wright’s interpretation a metaphoric symbol for the roman

                            Armies massacring the inhabitants of Jerusalem and razing the city to the ground. That

                            is obviously one of the implications of the Son of Man coming in "power and glory".

                            But as I said many years before when I reviewed Wright´s book it is quite beyond me

                            how the destruction of Jerusalem and the flight of the Christans from Jerusalem can

                            have been seen by the gospel writers or later Christians as "power and glory" that

                            vindicates Jesus Christ. I also have problems with Wright’s reading of the word

                            "angelos" in this context. It is true that the word can mean a human messenger, but

                            I don´t think there is a shred of evidence from patristic times that the figures in Mark

                            13:27 were seen as anything else than angels. In light of the fact that the Son of Man

                            in Daniel 7 was meant to symbolise a superhuman figure in the heavenly court who

                            is sorrounded by other angels it is a farfetched thought indeed to claim that the most

                            natural reading is human messangers ie christian missionaries.

                            TO BE CONTINUED...

                            Best wishes

                            Antonio Jerez

                          • Antonio Jerez
                            ... I have read NTATP and I know that Wright is sceptical about the recieved tradition but to merely remain sceptical about a certain thing (in this case
                            Message 13 of 14 , Jan 29, 2000
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                              Antonio Jerez wrote:

                              > It doesn't help me very much. There are certainly many "details" in Wright's
                              > thesis that have to be explained if most critical scholars are going to take
                              > him seriously. One such "detail" that Wright stubbornly refuses to answer
                              > in his books is if there is any Jesus sayings that the gospel writers made
                              > up themselves. If the answer is affirmative the next question Wright should
                              > logically answer is in what way he will be able to distinguish between genuine
                              > Jesus sayings and madeup ones. And if the gospel writers did indeed make
                              > up Jesus sayings what says that they couldn't make also make up an artificial
                              > frame, a story, for their mixture of genuine and invented Jesus sayings. If
                              > that is the case, how is Wright going to find out how much of the storyworld
                              >is to be attributed to the gospel writers and how much to Jesus?

                              Ricki Watts replied:

                              >>I'm not sure this is accurate. If you've read NEW TESTAMENT AND THE PEOPLE
                              >>OF GOD you will know that Wright is somewhat skeptical of this received
                              >>tradition that gospel writers invented sayings wholesale (see e.g. also
                              >>Bailey's article on oral village tradition which is informal but controlled
                              >>and seems to explain a great deal of the shape of the various gospel
                              >>stories). One must surely be aware of the raft of assumptions about the
                              >>nature of tradition, the effectiveness of various criterion used to
                              >>establish authenticity (presumably I don't need to articulate the serious
                              >>problems with this method), the nature of the development of the early
                              >>church, and more importantly that so often we have assumed we know in
                              >>advance what Jesus could or could not have said based on some presupposition
                              >>about the nature of Jesus' self-understanding and what his remarks (e.g. on
                              >>the SoM) meant--hence my first remarks on Wrede's final repudiation of his
                              >>messianic secret thesis, etc. etc. Perhaps it is time to re-examine some of
                              >>these assumptions.

                              I have read NTATP and I know that Wright is sceptical about the recieved
                              tradition but to merely remain sceptical about a certain thing (in this case
                              something that basically all critical scholars are agreed about) is not something
                              that will earn you much respect. Sweeping generalisations about the influence
                              of oral tradition isn´t much to go on. As I said earlier in a message to Bob Schacht
                              the question is not if different oral traditions can account for many of the variations
                              of the sayings that are similar in the gospel (it probably can), the question is if it
                              can account for all - specially where we find totally dissimilar sayings that are placed in
                              the mouth of Jesus in the same context. A prime example being Jesus last words
                              on the cross. What kind of oral tradition can account for this phenomenon? Hardly
                              the kind of oral tradition that we are used to on this planet.
                              And what do you make of the gospel of John? How does this fit into the kind
                              of thesis for oral transmission that you and Wright appear to propose?
                              What kind of oral tradition can account for a Jesus which speaks in a totally
                              different way from the synoptic Jesus and even appears to offer us a totally
                              different story at times?


                              >>Given this, Wright would not grant the first premise of your syllogism. But
                              >>even if he did allow some sayings were 'invented' I'm not sure that it
                              >>necessarily follows that the gospel writers would also then invent aspects
                              >>of the larger integrated story which is of another order altogether. One
                              >>could well imagine someone creating sayings to fit a received larger story
                              >>line while showing great respect for the larger story itself. One can't
                              >>just assume this; and in any case what about the dangers of multiplying
                              >>hypotheses?

                              So given that Wright doesn't even grant a minimum of the first syllogism
                              I don't think our discussion would lead anywhere. He appears to be on
                              Mars while I think I´m on Earth. We are worlds apart.

                              >>But here too I'm not sure about your account. The story world Wright talks
                              >>about is not initially derived from the gospels but rather from the Tanach
                              >>and intertestamental literature. Only after doing this does he seek to make
                              >>sense of Jesus within this larger story. The high degree of coherence
                              >>between the two (without having to dismiss any of the major outlines
                              >>reflected in the sayings--and actions; why do we only concern ourselves with
                              >>the sayings, surely Sanders has pointed out the need to pay attention to
                              >>Jesus' actions/signs/mighty deeds) is surely one of the key elements of
                              >>theory selection in science. I have a lot of time for someone who can fit
                              >>most of the data in (perhaps its my background in the sciences) whereas I am
                              >>extremely skeptical of approaches that rule out hard data beforehand on
                              >>other rather less than concrete grounds.

                              This sounds like a highly circular reasoning to me. Correct me if
                              I´m wrong but the basic line of reasoning is that if a certain story
                              fits quite well with another story that story probably has a high degree
                              of historical authenticity. I must admit that I don't understand the logic
                              behind it. Specially since most scholars agree that the OT is largely a
                              mythological/theological history in the same way as the gospels is mythological
                              theological history. Wouldn´t it be the most natural thing in the world for
                              the early Christan scribes like Mark and Matthew to make their own story
                              about the Messiah conform as much as possible to the themes that run
                              through the OT. I think so. That said Mark ad Matthew had the problem
                              that they had to adjust the OT story and reinterpret it in creative ways to
                              make it conform to the life of their Messiah. Such an example of creative
                              reinterpreting is the theme the suffering and dying Messiah which according
                              to most scholars today is not part of the OT story. This theme isn´t found at
                              all in second Temple Judaism outside Christianity. By cloaking Jesus in
                              the mantle of the suffering/dying/vindicated Son of Man the gospel writers
                              tried their best to link this new storyline to the OT. Some Jews
                              were convinced that the new story and its linkage to the OT was correct and
                              became "Christians", most Jews on the other hand were not convinced at
                              all and ridiculed the new story, threw the "Christians" out of the synagogues
                              and emphatically claimed that this new story had no connection at all to the Tanakh.

                              >>What critics would need to show is that Wright has included not just sayings
                              >>here and there which can be shown to be invented (on grounds apart from an a
                              >>priori assumption of what Jesus could or could not have said) but rather a
                              >>whole collection of sayings which bear witness to a substantial element in
                              >>his model. One might include here e.g. the SoM in future glory sayings.
                              >>The question here it seems to me is whether one assumes that SoM language is
                              >>concrete or, in the mouth of Jesus, entirely a metaphor for vindication.
                              >>Appealing to 1 Enoch may not help since there is no reason to assume that
                              >>Jesus has to use SoM in the same sense (after all he is not the author of 1
                              >>Enoch). Given the extraordinarily creative manner in which the NT authors
                              >>use the OT (but I don't mean this pejoratively), it might not be at all
                              >>surprising if Jesus too used OT images at least sometimes in his own unique
                              >>way. The question is, how can one tell?

                              By sifting the sayings carefully and in detail and by using ones
                              logical faculties as much as possible. I'm not saying that we
                              can prove that this or that saying or a whole cluster of sayings
                              around a similar theme is inauthentic - proof in the scientific
                              sense is not possible in exegetics. But I think we can say
                              with a high degree of probability that many clusters are totally
                              inauthentic - like the apocalyptic son of Man sayings. In some
                              cases we can even say that three out of four sayings, if not all
                              four, must logically be inauthentic. Such a case being Jesus
                              last words on the cross.

                              Sincerely



                              Dr. R. E. Watts (PhD, Cantab) Phone (604) 224 3245
                              Regent College, Fax (604) 224 3097
                              5800 University Boulevard
                              Vancouver, BC
                              CANADA V6T 2E4



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                            • Rikki E. Watts
                              Antonio, Back into the fray ... a long post since you raise so many issues. Maybe the best thing though is to start with one item and track it through ...
                              Message 14 of 14 , May 4, 2000
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                                Antonio,

                                Back into the fray ... a long post since you raise so many issues. Maybe
                                the best thing though is to start with one item and track it through ...
                                perhaps your comments on SoM (see below)?

                                a. you criticize Wright for not being skeptical enough about the sayings of
                                Jesus, namely that he doesn't say which ones he thinks were "made up". Of
                                course this raises the question of what you mean by "made up": without any
                                basis and in direct opposition or without any reference to what Jesus
                                believed, without any historical basis but largely in keeping with what they
                                thought Jesus would have said if he spoke on this subject (as per Hanson's
                                PROPHETIC GOSPEL), with some historical basis but freely restructured and
                                rephrased, or with some historical basis and though in their own words still
                                in an attempt to be faithful to what Jesus intended (etc., permutations
                                could be multiplied)? How would you tell the difference (details please)?

                                b. as far as I can tell the answer to your criticism is that Tom seems to
                                think that most of the sayings we have are not in their general thrust
                                unfaithful to the teaching of the Jesus (hence my remark about his
                                skepticism re received scholarship). I should have thought that much would
                                have been fairly obvious. This is perhaps where you and Tom are worlds
                                apart.

                                c. of course you react to this, citing 'totally dissimilar sayings' which no
                                oral tradition on earth could account for (or something like that). Indulge
                                me by being specific (you mention the sayings from the cross in
                                general)--would you mind giving me one or two of your key examples? Then we
                                can talk about details rather than generalities. I suspect as we talk about
                                this we'll discover that there are important assumptions that will strongly
                                influence the outcome. At least one contributor to this list has suggested
                                that Tom does what he does because he can't dream of Jesus being wrong.
                                With respect and while I can understand the temptation, I think this is an
                                inadequate understanding of what Tom is on about. I don't doubt that Tom
                                wants to give Jesus and the early church much more of the benefit of the
                                doubt than some. But I also think that Tom is trying to work through the
                                implications of Lonergan's critical realism (partly as a response to the
                                weaknesses of positivism and perspectivalism) and post-modernism's
                                contribution on alerting us to the importance of story. Hence his long
                                introductory section in NTPG. But in the end what we are after is that
                                reading which makes most sense of the data (historical, cultural, literary,
                                etc.). Perhaps I'm more sympathetic to Tom because while doing my doctoral
                                work at Cambridge I had already begun to question whether so-called
                                apocalyptic language (and isn't this already a late Western label?) was
                                intended to be "literal" and whether Mark 13 was really about the end of the
                                world at all (partly due to my training on the use of symbols and metaphors
                                in Art History but also my work on the role of symbol and metaphor in
                                ideology and community self-understanding). I'm not saying Tom's got it
                                absolutely right. But I am convinced he's opened some doors (or at least
                                popularized the fact that these doors were opening) that are proving very
                                helpful in developing new ways of seeing.

                                d. you mention John's gospel. It's difficult to know what to do with John
                                vis-a-vis the Synoptics, as is evident in the widely divergent views on
                                offer. At least one early tradition regarded as a spiritual gospel; what
                                might this imply about its genre? But as Mahlon's recent post implied if
                                not noted, one of the key problems for John and the Synoptics is
                                understanding the relationship between report and interpretation which is
                                probably best understood in terms of a continuum rather than a polarity
                                (indeed Tom echoing numerous others have simply been questioning whether
                                there is such a thing as a non-theological approach to history; naturalism
                                already implies a theology even if a negative one).

                                e. Yes, theory selection does involve an apparent "circularity" (though
                                actually coherence is the technical term): like fitting a part into a jigsaw
                                puzzle. Just because the part fits surely doesn't mean that it's suspect.
                                Isn't every form of historical investigation open to exactly this kind of
                                charge? I think Tom would argue that someone obviously thought all of this
                                somehow cohered or they wouldn't have created the story they did. Our task
                                is first to seek to understand why they did, and that may mean having to
                                give up some old paradigms with which we late moderns have become enamoured.
                                I think this is eminently sensible. I guess it comes down to this: one
                                either starts with their story first or with our story first. I personally
                                think it is better to get a handle on how they understood their story as an
                                entirety and only then to compare it to our story to see which one makes
                                best sense of human experience. I'm not sure the piecemeal approach has
                                worked all that well in the past and hence the shift in methodological
                                approaches over the past twenty years or so.

                                f. you then comment "Specially since most scholars agree that the OT is
                                largely a mythological/theological history in the same way as the gospels is
                                mythological theological history." For someone who is so quick to jump on
                                sweeping generalizations this is breath-takingly simplistic and you really
                                ought to stop it (I assume you haven't been present at the recent SBL
                                debates on this nor up to speed on the recent literature?). As long as you
                                keep taking refuge in general statements like "most scholars agree" as a
                                defense against challenges to what "most scholars agree" we are not going to
                                get very far.

                                g. you note: "Wouldn´t it be the most natural thing in the world for
                                the early Christan scribes like Mark and Matthew to make their own story
                                about the Messiah conform as much as possible to the themes that run
                                through the OT." Of course they would want to interpret Jesus through that
                                grid, especially if they felt that God had "fulfilled" those stories in him.
                                But to suggest that this therefore makes them suspect is as silly as
                                suggesting that because a scientist attempts to fit his theory into the
                                prevailing orthodoxy he must necessarily be fiddling with the data
                                (especially since it fits so well, or whatever). It might just fit well
                                because it does fit well. What you need to so is show that they have been
                                fiddling with or unfaithful to the data. But one needs to make sure that
                                one can tell the difference between fiddling with the data and reading it in
                                a new light because of a paradigm shift.

                                h. On "cloaking Jesus in the mantle of the suffering/dying/vindicated Son of
                                Man". Whether other Jews saw a suffering SoM or not is beside the point.
                                Why can't Jesus himself have creatively linked Dan 7's story of Israel's
                                deliverance from exile with Isaiah 40-55's picture of this happening through
                                a suffering servant figure (enigmatic as it is) and come up with a new
                                synthesis: a suffering son of man? (The old argument that the one is
                                prophetic and the other apocalyptic is anachronistic). Or is it only that
                                everybody else but Jesus can be creative? The issue is surely not whether
                                others agreed but whether there are textual grounds for Jesus doing so. You
                                would need to show that Jesus (assuming for the moment that he was the
                                creative genius behind it) was improperly reading the texts. Just a
                                thought, given the impact of the Jesus movement or people of the way (or
                                whatever), can you give one historical example of such a radically new
                                development (comparatively speaking) that was not begun by an individual?
                                As far as I can see it is characteristic of movements like this that they
                                trace their origins back to significant individuals. I think Dodd is
                                correct here. Experience would suggest that this sort of creativity goes
                                back to an individual not to a community (just as Qumran traces its origins
                                back to the teacher of righteousness).

                                i. "I think we can say with a high degree of probability that many clusters
                                are totally inauthentic - like the apocalyptic son of Man sayings." Ah yes,
                                this is of course the very point as issue. Did Jesus even use the language
                                "son of man"? Why don't we pursue this: you tell me why they are totally
                                inauthentic and we'll take it from there?

                                j. finally, in respect of Allison's supposed defeater to Wright's (and
                                Caird's) proposal concerning the metaphorical use of what we moderns call
                                apocalyptic language; I refer to his response in JESUS AND THE RESTORATION
                                OF ISRAEL. Allison recognizes that Joel or the author of Acts hardly
                                expected the moon to become bloody. At the same time others apparently read
                                different passages as "literal" (I put this in inverted commas since the
                                earliest use of this word meant in keeping with the original author's
                                intention). But what is at issue is how Jesus and the authors of the gospels
                                understood the language, and Allison has already allowed that they do read
                                at least some texts metaphorically. Perhaps especially it concerns how the
                                language functions in e.g. Mark 13, which apparently Allison assumes
                                describes the end of the world, and this apparently because of 13.24ff. But
                                isn't this to beg the question?

                                (i) A. accepts that Isa 13.10 and 34.4 is poetry (on p.131) (I'm not sure
                                how his citation of Josh 10 has any bearing on Isaiah). However, he argues
                                that since there are no contextual markers in Mark 13 to indicate that
                                vv.24ff are metaphor they must be "literal". But if something is already
                                clearly recognized as a metaphor why do you need markers? Their absence
                                here could just as well indicate that this language was well understood as
                                metaphorical. He surely isn't suggesting that one cannot use metaphors when
                                describing historical events? After all this is exactly what Joel does
                                (2.28-32, ET; 3.1ff HB). If Joel 3.1ff's (HB) "sun darkened" is a metaphor
                                in the context of a literal description of the fate of Jerusalem, what clear
                                and irrefutable evidence does A. offer to show that it cannot be so here
                                where the fate of Jerusalem is also the main issue (Mk 13.1ff)? None that I
                                can see.
                                (ii) true, he does cite examples of some people understanding cosmic
                                descriptions literally (just as he does of people who don't). But it is
                                worth noting that a number of them are Greco-Roman writers (hardly the best
                                indicators of Jewish interpretive tradition), while some of his key
                                witnesses are e.g. a Hellenized Alexandrian Jew (on Pseudo-Philo's LAB 11.5)
                                who applied allegorical exegetical methods to the bible; I should have
                                thought that this is good reason not to follow him (cf. the author of the
                                Sibylline oracles). I find it telling that the most literal readers Allison
                                can find are largely people whose approach to Israel's scriptures in general
                                seems rather at odds with what the gospels' Jesus does. Others are not
                                really close parallels at all.
                                (iii) Allison then goes on to history of religions parallels etc. But of
                                course they are only parallels if they can be shown to be parallels, and
                                certainly have no probative weight in requiring Jewish and Christian
                                interpreters to read as others had done (good heavens, if anything stands
                                out about Christians and Jews in the first century it was precisely that
                                they held to views contrary to their neighbours). He himself quotes
                                Sullivan "in NEARLY all .." (my emphasis, 138). Exactly! It is the
                                exception that proves the rule. It's a nice rhetorical move but actually
                                proves nothing.

                                At best Allison has shown that some people in the first century world read
                                some texts "literally", but this is a long way short of refuting Wright's
                                reading of Mark 13. Of course part of the problem here is that Mark 13 is
                                commonly held to refer to the end of the world; I do not share that opinion
                                since it fails, in my view, to take Mark's context seriously enough (13.1-4)
                                and relies on a particular and tendentious reading of 13.24-27.

                                all the best

                                Rikk



                                Dr. R. E. Watts (PhD, Cantab) Phone (604) 224 3245
                                Regent College, Fax (604) 224 3097
                                5800 University Boulevard
                                Vancouver, BC
                                CANADA V6T 2E4
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