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Re: Antonio and Watts' exchange.

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  • Antonio Jerez
    ... Welcome back Ricki. Hopefully you will give us some further views on why you think Tom Wright is such a good historian and why his method is something for
    Message 1 of 3 , May 2, 2000
      Ricki Watts wrote:

      >Sorry I've been out
      of the loop for some time and only occasionally have had
      >the time briefly
      to check on the list.  I notice that Antonio refers to our
      >"exchange" but should point out that it was never completed due to
      >pressures at my end (I confess I haven't a clue how some of the list
      >are able to engage at such length and frequency).  I may get
      around to it
      >when I have some more time ... but I think Antonio and I are
      probably at
      >such different places ideologically (I'm saddened to see that
      he still sees
      >fit to indulge in dismissive ad hominems "What it all boils
      down to is if
      >you want to be a Sloppy Thinker or a Cleareyed Thinker")
      that I'm unsure as
      >to whether it is worth either of our efforts. 
      We'll see.
      Welcome back Ricki. Hopefully you will give us some further views on why
      you think Tom Wright is such a good historian and why his method is something
      for other historians to emulate. At the risk of saddening Ricki further I will give
      another example from Wright's book of what I see as Sloppy Thinking from a
      scholar who sees himself in the vanguard of the "serious historical method, as
      opposed to the pseudo-historical use of homemade 'criteria'" (page 87).
      As is well known by now Wright wants to reevaluate many of the parables and
      sayings that are traditionally held to be about the Parouisia of the SoM/resureccted
      Jesus. Wright claims that parables like the Ten Maidens in GMatthew (25:1-13) aren't
      really about the second return of Christ in his supernatural glory to punish the servants
      (Christians) who have fallen asleep (got lazy) during his absence in heaven. According
      to Wright the parable should instead be read as a veiled reference to the destruction
      of Jerusalem in AD 70. The maidens who are to be punished are the Jewish leadership
      for their refusal to listen to Jesus and their collaboration with the Romans.
      On page 640 a silmilar reading is made of Luke's parable of the watchful servants (12:35-40)
      and the Prudent Manager (12:41-45). If I understand Wright's logic the servants in the first
      parable include the Jewish leadership who are forewarned of the destruction of them and their
      city if they do not listen to Jesus. The return of the Master/SoM is the destruction of Jerusalem
      in AD 70. The second parable refers to the same event. Wright doesn't make it clear if he sees
      the Manager in the parable as the High Priest, but the Jewish leadership at least appears to be
      included among the other servants.
      So far Wright's interpretation. Has it anything going for it? Not as far as I and most other scholars
      see it. It is quite telling that Wright never does a proper narrative-critical study of the setting of
      the parables. First we notice that in 12:22 gives us clue as to whom the next parables are to be
      directed at and about - "and to his disciples he said". That the two parables in question are really
      about Christian disciples and not about the Jewish leaders is also confirmed by Peter's question
      in 12:41, "Lord, is this parable about us or all?". That the servants are Christians is increasingly
      made clear by Jesus words in verse 47 where he talks about "the servant who knows what his master
      want's...". The ones who know the will of the Master are most naturally taken to be Christians since
      it is them who have been instructed by the Master(Jesus) and not the Jewish leadership.That this
      reading is the correct one is further strenghtened by the fact that Jesus enemies do not appear to
      be called his "servants" throughout all of the NT. The title servant is usually reserved for Christ's
      followers and the Prophets.
      All in all I don't see any reason whatsover to change the standard reading among conservative and
      critical scholars alike for Wright's fanciful one.
      Best wishes
      Antonio Jerez


    • Antonio Jerez
      ... Those who have been on this list for a while will know my answer: I do not think that a single word in Maidens parable in GMatthew or the parable in GLuke
      Message 2 of 3 , May 3, 2000
        George Brooks wrote:

        > So I have to ask Jerez if he thinks the GMatthew parable in chapter 25
        > was a later creation/adaptation of later followers? Or does he really think
        > Jesus told that story as it stands? I'm not saying that I think Wright's
        > research satisfies all my desires. But I **am** saying that I am interested
        > in Wright's instincts on how to interpret what some of these parables were
        > "really" about.
        > George Brooks
        > Tampa, FL

        Those who have been on this list for a while will know my answer: I do not
        think that a single word in Maidens parable in GMatthew or the parable in
        GLuke (I actually believe Luke has reworked Mtt 25:1-13 in Luke 12:35-40)
        goes back to the historical Jesus. The fingerprints are all over the place that all
        the Parousia parables are inventions of the later Church.

        Best wishes

        Antonio Jerez
      • Rikki E. Watts
        Antonio, Thanks for the welcome back ... but don t expect too much as I still have lots of work to do. But what are we to do with you, Antonio? Unfortunately,
        Message 3 of 3 , May 3, 2000

          Thanks for the welcome back ... but don't expect too much as I still have
          lots of work to do. But what are we to do with you, Antonio?
          Unfortunately, you once again begin with snide remarks about Wright's
          historical method (I do wonder when the moderator is going to step in and
          gong you out--I had hoped that this list would at least abide by the
          niceties observed in serious scholarly exchange in the journals), but then
          having begun with a complaint about sloppy historical method you go on to
          offer an example that concerns narrative-critical interpretation without any
          mention of history at all... how exactly does a difference of opinion about
          interpretation reflect on the correctness of one's historical method?
          Sounds like a form of the argumentum ad ignorantium to me.

          Personally, I don't happen to agree with Wright's reading of all of the
          parables. But the fact remains that in your example you seem to assume that
          Lk 12.41 makes it clear that only the disciples are in view, and yes some
          scholars would agree. But does this amount to sloppy thinking? Hardly.
          You'll note that the narrator clearly has Jesus ignore the question, which
          leads a number of other scholars to argue on narrative-critical grounds
          (note well!) that the reference is intended to be ambiguous, i.e. not just
          to the disciples. In other words, this is not a matter of sloppy thinking
          but of a difference of opinion among recognized scholars on a difficult
          issue. A more even-handed reading of the evidence (and less "sloppy
          thinking"?) would have shown this and perhaps tempered your tone.

          I might also comment on your regularly invalid appeal to the majority of
          scholars. Since when has truth been a matter of counting votes? Granted,
          an appeal to recognized authorities is acceptable in certain contexts,
          primarily where one is seeking to start from an established position or to
          show that one's own views are not novel, but certainly not as a defeater to
          a challenge to that majority opinion. One only has to trace the twists and
          turns of Synoptic research to realize that majority opinion is hardly a
          reliable guide (except perhaps to fashion). In the history of scholarship
          fewer pressures have been more unproductive than the dead hand of conformity
          to certain reigning paradigms (as per, even with his problems, Kuhn), where
          people are dismissed for being unfashionable or even worse "confessional"
          (as if there are some of us who don't have a confessional stance of some
          kind including naturalism or developmentalism) rather than because their
          arguments are weak. So let's have done with the ad hominems, selective
          reading, smugness, etc, okay?

          Rikk (please note the spelling)

          PS I am trying to discover where you might be coming from ... have you
          published anything that might give me some idea of how you yourself practice
          your method or how you have been reviewed by your peers?

          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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