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Re: [XTalk] Wright's Jesus

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  • Mike Myers
    Bob: Do you seriously doubt that Crossan s theology affects his work? Yes, ONE of the purposes of these confessional statements is to clarify sites of
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 27, 2000
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      "Bob:

      Do you seriously doubt that Crossan's theology affects his
      work? Yes, ONE of the purposes of these confessional
      statements is to clarify sites of potential -- but another
      is defuse accusations of bias, or even locate the readership
      ideologically. I am really not sure at all why you find my
      characterization of Wright as theologically motivated so
      objectionable. In any case, I am NOT going to respond to
      your or Mike's questions about "chapter and verse" and
      because what you are asking for here (as your response to
      Suki's post indicates) is PROOF of bias or of
      misrepresentation of historical fact, and I've already said
      (repeatedly, in fact) that the charge of bias is a surmise,
      not a claim that can be proven, precisely it involves the
      inner workings of the scholar's mind. On the other hand, to
      say that this makes such surmise unscholarly, or ad hominem,
      is to ignore a great bulk of the standard METHOD of this
      field, which involves exposing (or asserting) the biases of
      others. If you doubt this, check out Schweitzer's _Quest_.

      Bill"
      **********************************************************

      Bill, you didn't ask me but I'll gladly tell you that I don't
      seriously doubt that ANYONE'S ideology affects his or her work, and
      that seems the whole point. Unexamined convictions are endemic in
      scholarship. It's just that some unexamined convictions are more
      fashionable than others -- and this even when these gauche others
      are OPEN and honestly ADMITTED -- and this is what is so disturbing
      to me.

      Of course Wright is "theologically motivated," but then so is
      everyone else. The only differences have to do with the nature of
      the venerated deity, its respectability and time-bound party/power
      clout.

      Mike


      ---------------End of Original Message-----------------

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Michael D. A. Myers
      Physiology and Biophysics
      University of California, Irvine
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      <mmyers@...>
      04/27/2000
      12:35:45
    • Robert M. Schacht
      On Thu, 27 Apr 2000 08:51:20 -0400 (EDT) William E. Arnal ... Well, no. But here I think I see a difference between the way you use that information and the
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 27, 2000
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        On Thu, 27 Apr 2000 08:51:20 -0400 (EDT) "William E. Arnal"
        <wea1@...> writes:
        >
        >
        > Bob:
        >
        > Do you seriously doubt that Crossan's theology affects his work?

        Well, no. But here I think I see a difference between the way you use
        that information and the way Antonio uses it. As I understand it,
        Antonio's purpose in writing what he did about Wright was to discredit
        him as a historian (Antonio, please correct me if I am wrong.) On the
        other hand, you are, I think, coming from the point of view that everyone
        has biases, so what? (I oversimplify.) You do not intend thereby to
        discredit Crossan as a historian, as I understand your point. Is this
        correct?

        > Yes, ONE of the purposes of these confessional
        > statements is to clarify sites of potential -- but another
        > is defuse accusations of bias, or even locate the readership
        > ideologically.

        Is there a word missing from this sentence?

        > I am really not sure at all why you find my
        > characterization of Wright as theologically motivated so
        > objectionable.

        Ah. I do not find it objectionable to say that Wright is theologically
        *motivated.*
        What I thought you were agreeing with Antonio about was to draw the
        conclusion that because Wright may be theologically motivated *therefore*
        all of his work on the historical Jesus must therefore be discarded. What
        is missing from this logic is to deny the possibility that Mahlon calls
        "bracketing out" one's biases from one's work as a historian.

        > In any case, I am NOT going to respond to
        > your or Mike's questions about "chapter and verse" and
        > because what you are asking for here (as your response to
        > Suki's post indicates) is PROOF of bias or of
        > misrepresentation of historical fact, and I've already said
        > (repeatedly, in fact) that the charge of bias is a surmise,
        > not a claim that can be proven, precisely it involves the
        > inner workings of the scholar's mind. On the other hand, to
        > say that this makes such surmise unscholarly, or ad hominem,
        > is to ignore a great bulk of the standard METHOD of this
        > field, which involves exposing (or asserting) the biases of
        > others. If you doubt this, check out Schweitzer's _Quest_.
        >

        It is one thing to assert that someone is biased. It is another thing to
        *assume* that their bias invalidates their work as a scholar. I thought
        this was Antonio's point, and I assumed that since you seemed to be
        defending Antonio's claims about Wright, that you agreed with that point.
        If that is not what you were agreeing with Antonio about, then I have no
        quarrel with you.

        A scholar's bias may, as you say, involve the inaccessible work of the
        inner mind. But if that bias manifests itself in their scholarly work,
        then there is external evidence that can be evaluated for bias. I thought
        you were making the claim that Wright's bias was affecting his work,
        e.g., on the apocalypticism of Jesus. My request for chapter and verse
        was with regard to this question. If you were making such a claim, then
        my request stands: Show me the evidence (a) about what kind of bias you
        think Wright has, and (b) how that particular bias affects his
        scholarship on particular questions about the historical Jesus.

        In other questions about the historical Jesus, we demand to see the
        evidence.
        Why should this be otherwise?

        Bob
      • Sukie Curtis
        ... But, Mike, open and honest admission of one s bias (I don t see how one can openly and honestly admit specific unexamined convictions , but anyway...) is
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 28, 2000
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          --- In crosstalk2@egroups.com, Mike Myers <mmyers@h...> wrote:

          > Bill, you didn't ask me but I'll gladly tell you that I don't
          > seriously doubt that ANYONE'S ideology affects his or her work, and
          > that seems the whole point. Unexamined convictions are endemic in
          > scholarship. It's just that some unexamined convictions are more
          > fashionable than others -- and this even when these gauche others
          > are OPEN and honestly ADMITTED -- and this is what is so disturbing
          > to me
          >
          > Of course Wright is "theologically motivated," but then so is
          > everyone else. The only differences have to do with the nature of
          > the venerated deity, its respectability and time-bound party/power
          > clout.
          >
          But, Mike, open and honest admission of one's bias (I don't see how
          one can openly and honestly admit specific "unexamined convictions",
          but anyway...) is not the same thing as the "bracketing out" of those
          biases as honestly as possible, as Bob Schacht referred to earlier
          today.

          Admission is better than nothing, I guess. But some suggestion of
          how one attempts to "bracket out" bias or to keep the exchange
          between bias and scholarly method as "equal" as possible would be
          even better, would it not? I disagree that the "*only* differences
          have to do with the nature of the venerated deity, its respectability
          and time-bound party/power clout." Broadening this beyond Crossan
          and Wright, there are more competent scholars and less competent
          ones, no matter how biased they all may be, and there are also better
          methods and weaker methods. Such things make a difference, too.

          Sukie Curtis
          Cumberland Foreside, Maine


          >
          >
          > ---------------End of Original Message-----------------
          >
          > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          > Michael D. A. Myers
          > Physiology and Biophysics
          > University of California, Irvine
          > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          >
          > <mmyers@h...>
          > 04/27/2000
          > 12:35:45
        • Mike Myers
          Sukie Curtis wrote: But, Mike, open and honest admission of one s bias (I don t see how one can openly and honestly admit specific unexamined convictions ,
          Message 4 of 7 , Apr 28, 2000
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            Sukie Curtis wrote:
            "But, Mike, open and honest admission of one's bias (I don't see how
            one can openly and honestly admit specific "unexamined convictions",
            but anyway...) is not the same thing as the "bracketing out" of
            those biases as honestly as possible, as Bob Schacht referred to
            earlier today."
            *************************************************************

            I'm firmly convinced that there is no real possibility of rigorously
            "bracketing out" biases, frankly. They seem innate to the way the
            human mind operates when it surveys itself and the world outside.
            Anyone who claims a firm grasp on the Ding-an-sich is dingy by
            definition IMHO.

            As you suggest, it isn't possible to openly and honestly admit
            specific unexamined convictions *if these aren't even recognized*.
            This is where peer review comes in so handy. Yet an individual could
            in principle recognize his/her convictions, openly admit that they
            are, thus far, more or less personally unexamined, and thereby
            remain in good faith during a discussion in which these convictions
            become airborne. That situation's much better than the one in which
            some involved are evidently utterly oblivious to their own no doubt
            widely shared but still deeply questionable unexamined convictions.
            History tells a long story of respectable, power-laden exquisitely
            gowned convictions that have been examined and found defective. Too
            often the examiners who talk about it soon become raggedy outsiders
            if they weren't already. So much for peer review, then.


            Sukie wrote:
            "I disagree that the "*only* differences have to do with the nature
            of the venerated deity, its respectability and time-bound
            party/power clout." Broadening this beyond Crossan and Wright,
            there are more competent scholars and less competent ones, no matter
            how biased they all may be, and there are also better methods and
            weaker methods. Such things make a difference, too."
            *******************************************************

            Well, I guess I have to stand by my little trope. To me theology is
            pretty inclusive. Some follow the money, but I like to follow the
            deity. (These days it's often the same trip but not always.) The
            problem with all methods is that they are so LIMITED in scope by
            definition, and that they are wielded by specialists. This is
            becoming obvious in the biological sciences. Turns out that some of
            the more intricate phenomena are developing resistance to the
            methodologies -- they have this nasty propensity to be complex and
            'interdisciplinary' in nature and to mischievously resist staying in
            the neat little academic categories into which they were herded for
            study.

            To me, an admitted outsider to the specialty of most on this list,
            it seems they have the same problem, in spades. They're dealing with
            more complex phenomena still. This makes me pessimistic about the
            results until the methodologies evolve into a better match for the
            complexities. And I humbly suggest that one factor in this evolution
            will be to take the little matter of theology more seriously. In
            the mean time, try the via negativa -- rule out the most crudely
            idolatrous conceptions. I would say that ultimately there are better
            and weaker theologies.


            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            Michael D. A. Myers
            Physiology and Biophysics
            University of California, Irvine
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            <mmyers@...>
            04/28/2000
            12:41:09
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