Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Historical Method

Expand Messages
  • Teresa Callahan, M.D. Ben Douglas, M.D.
    Re: Kopecek,Goodacre,Schacht,Miller et al. In response to Tom Kopecek s question about interest among XTalk2 listers for discussing the portrayal of Peter in
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 7, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      Re: Kopecek,Goodacre,Schacht,Miller et al.

      In response to Tom Kopecek's question about interest among XTalk2
      listers for discussing the portrayal of Peter in Mt versus that in
      Mk, I want to go on record as supporting the idea.

      I found the last three weeks of XTalk2 postings to be the most
      interesting since I joined the egroup this summer. I loved reading
      the debates among such distinguished scholars as Bob Miller, Bill
      Arnal, Mark Goodacre and others. It was refreshing to see that they
      struggle with some of the same concerns about doing historical Jesus
      research that I, a lowly graduate student, do. I know we were blessed
      with their presence over these last weeks only because they were on
      winter break from their professorial and research duties at their
      various colleges, seminaries and universities, but I hope we can
      entice them back in the future--perhaps spring break?

      I especially appreciated Mark Goodacre's and Bob Schacht's criticisms
      of the Jesus Seminar's methods, even though I am a big fan of the
      seminar's work. There seems to be a huge schism in religious studies
      between the scholars of the JSem and scholars who take a more
      traditional approach to biblical history. Bob Schacht's comments about
      each side not really listening to the other side's arguments, but
      simply endlessly repeating their own points,was well taken. Part of
      what really grabbed my attention in the debate over historical method
      was the impression that the scholarly listers were actually trying to
      respond respectfully to one another's questions. I would second Mark
      G.'s plea to focus on reaching some consensus on basic issues
      describing who we think Jesus of Nazareth was, even if we will
      probably never agree on all the issues under debate.

      One last note: I once heard John Dominic Crossan say in an interview
      that the lively debate over the historical Jesus was what kept
      religious scholars employed and off the streets! As one who looks
      forward to such employment in the future, I say let the debate
      continue.

      All the best,
      Teresa

      Teresa Callahan,M.D.
      Eugene, Oregon
      Oregon State University (under Marcus Borg)
    • KirbTron
      Since this is a historically-based list, I thought it fitting to start a discussion of historical method in general by submitting this article for comments.
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 28, 2005
      • 0 Attachment
        Since this is a historically-based list, I thought it fitting to start
        a discussion of historical method in general by submitting this
        article for comments.

        The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which
        historians use primary sources and other evidence to research and then
        to write history. The question of the nature, and indeed the
        possibility, of sound historical method is raised in the philosophy of
        history, as a question of epistemology. The following summarizes the
        guidelines commonly used by historians in their work, under the
        headings of external criticism, internal criticism, and synthesis.

        * 1 External Criticism: Authenticity and Provenance
        o 1.1 Higher Criticism
        o 1.2 Lower Criticism
        * 2 Internal Criticism: Historical Reliability
        o 2.1 Eyewitness Evidence
        o 2.2 Oral Tradition
        * 3 Synthesis: Historical Reasoning
        o 3.1 Argument to the Best Explanation
        o 3.2 Statistical Inference
        o 3.3 Argument from Analogy
        * 4 References

        External Criticism: Authenticity and Provenance

        Garraghan divides criticism into six inquiries (A Guide to Historical
        Method, 168):

        (a) When was the source, written or unwritten, produced (date)?
        (b) Where was it produced (localization)?
        (c) By whom was it produced (authorship)?
        (d) From what pre-existing material was it produced (analysis)?
        (e) In what original form was it produced (integrity)?
        (f) What is the evidential value of its contents (credibility)?

        The first four are known as higher criticism; the fifth, lower
        criticism; and, together, external criticism. The sixth and final
        inquiry about a source is called internal criticism.

        R. J. Shafer on external criticism: "It sometimes is said that its
        function is negative, merely saving us from using false evidence;
        whereas internal criticism has the positive function of telling us how
        to use authenticated evidence." (A Guide to Historical Method, 118)

        Higher Criticism

        R. J. Shafer writes, "Determination of authorship and date involves
        one or all of the following: (a) content analysis, (b) comparison with
        the content of other evidence, (c) tests of the physical properties of
        the evidence." (A Guide to Historical Method, 120) Content analysis
        includes examinations of anachronisms in language, datable references,
        and consistency with a cultural setting. Comparison with other
        writings may involve palaeography, the study of style of handwriting,
        the study of stylometry and comparison of literary style with known
        authors, or something as simple as a reference to the document's
        author in another one of his works or by a contemporary. Physical
        properties include the properties of the paper, the consistency of the
        ink, and the appearance of a seal, as well as the results of
        radioactive carbon dating.

        Lower Criticism

        Lower criticism is more frequently known as "textual criticism," and
        it is concerned with determining an accurate text in cases where we
        have copies instead of the original. Approaches to textual criticism
        include eclecticism, stemmatics, and cladistics. At the heart of
        eclecticism is that one should adopt the reading as original that most
        easily explains the derivation of the alternative readings. Stemmatics
        attempts to construct a "family tree" of extant manuscripts to help
        determine the correct reading. Cladistics makes use of statistical
        analysis in a similar endeavor.

        Internal Criticism: Historical Reliability

        Noting that few documents are accepted as completely reliable, Louis
        Gottschalk sets down the general rule, "for each particular of a
        document the process of establishing credibility should be separately
        undertaken regardless of the general credibility of the author." An
        author's trustworthiness in the main may establish a background
        probability for the consideration of each statement, but each piece of
        evidence extracted must be weighed individually.

        Eyewitness Evidence

        R. J. Shafer offers this checklist for evaluating eyewitness testimony
        (A Guide to Historical Method, 157-158):

        1. Is the real meaning of the statement different from its literal
        meaning? Are words used in senses not employed today? Is the statement
        meant to be ironic (i.e., mean other than it says)?
        2. How well could the author observe the thing he reports? Were
        his senses equal to the observation? Was his physical location
        suitable to sight, hearing, touch? Did he have the proper social
        ability to observe: did he understand the language, have other
        expertise required (e.g., law, military); was he not being intimidated
        by his wife or the secret police?
        3. How did the author report?, and what was his ability to do so?
        a. Regarding his ability to report, was he biased? Did he have
        proper time for reporting? Proper place for reporting? Adequate
        recording instruments?
        b. When did he report in relation to his observation? Soon? Much
        later?
        c. What was the author's intention in reporting? For whom did he
        report? Would that audience be likely to require or suggest distortion
        to the author?
        d. Are there additional clues to intended veracity? Was he
        indifferent on the subject reported, thus probably not intending
        distortion? Did he make staements damaging to himself, thus probably
        not seeking to distort? Did he give incidental or casual information,
        almost certainly not intended to mislead?
        4. Do his statements seem inherently improbable: e.g., contrary to
        human nature, or in conflict with what we know?
        5. Remember that some types of information are easier to observe
        and report on than others.
        6. Are there inner contradictions in the document?

        Louis Gottschalk adds an additional consideration: "Even when the fact
        in question may not be well-known, certain kinds of statements are
        both incidental and probable to such a degree that error or falsehood
        seems unlikely. If an ancient inscription on a road tells us that a
        certain proconsl built that road while Augustus was princeps, it may
        be doubted without further corroboration that that proconsul really
        built the road, but would be harder to doubt that the road was built
        during the principate of Augusutus. If an advertisement informs
        readers that 'A and B Coffee may be bought at any reliable grocer's at
        the unusual price of fifty cents a pound,' all the inferences of the
        advertisement may well be doubted without corroboration except that
        there is a brand of coffee on the market called 'A and B Coffee.'"
        (Understanding History, 163)

        Garraghan says that most information comes from "indirect witnesses,"
        people who were not present on the scene but heard of the events from
        someone else (A Guide to Historical Method, 292). Gottschalk says that
        a historian may sometimes use hearsay evidence. He writes, "In cases
        where he uses secondary witnesses, however, he does not rely upon them
        fully. On the contrary, he asks: (1) On whose primary testimony does
        the secondary witness base his statements? (2) Did the secondary
        witness accurately report the primary testimony as a whole? (3) If
        not, in what details did he accurately report the primary testimony?
        Satisfactory answers to the second and third questions may provide the
        historian with the whole or the gist of the primary testimony upon
        which the secondary witness may behis only means of knowledge. In such
        cases the secondary source is the historian's 'original' source, in
        the sense of being the 'origin' of his knowledge. In so far as this
        'original' source is an accurate report of primary testimony, he tests
        its credibility as he would that of the primary testimony itself."
        (Understanding History, 165)

        Oral Tradition

        Gilbert Garraghan maintains that oral tradition may be accepted if it
        satisfies either two "broad conditions" or six "particular
        conditions," as follows (A Guide to Historical Method, 261-262):

        (a) Broad conditions stated.
        (1) The tradition should be supported by an unbroken series of
        witnesses, reaching from the immediate and first reporter of the fact
        to the living mediate witness from whom we take it up, or to the one
        who was the first to comit it to writing.
        (2) There should be several parallel and independent series of
        witnesses testifying to the fact in question.
        (b) Particular conditions formulated.
        (1) The tradition must report a public event of importance, such
        as would necessarily be known directly to a great number of persons.
        (2) The tradition must have been generally believed, at least for
        a definite period of time.
        (3) During that definite period it must have gone without protest,
        even from persons interested in denying it.
        (4) The tradition must be one of relatively limited duration.
        [Elsewhere, Garraghan suggests a maximum limit of 150 years, at least
        in cultures that excel in oral remembrance.]
        (5) The critical spirit must have been sufficiently developed
        while the tradition lasted, and the necessary means of critical
        investigation must have been at hand.
        (6) Critical-minded persons who would surely have challenged the
        tradition, had they considered it false, must have made no such
        challenge.

        Other methods of verifying oral tradition may exist, such as
        comparison with the evidence of archaeological remains.

        More recent evidence concerning the potential reliability of oral
        tradition has come out of fieldwork in West Africa and the Middle
        East. (See J. Vansina, De la tradition orale. Essai de méthode
        historique, in translation as Oral Tradition as History, as well as K.
        E. Bailey, "Informed Controlled Oral Tradition and the Synoptic
        Gospels," Asia Journal of Theology [1991], 34-54. Note also the
        Icelandic sagas, such as that by Snorri Sturlason in the thirteenth
        century, and A. B. Lord's study of Slavic bards in The Singer of
        Tales.)

        Synthesis: Historical Reasoning

        Once individual pieces of information have been assessed in context,
        hypotheses can be formed and established by historical reasoning.

        Argument to the Best Explanation

        C. Behan McCullagh lays down seven conditions for a successful
        argument to the best explanation (Justifying Historical Descriptions,
        19):

        1. The statement, together with other statements already held to be
        true, must imply yet other statements describing present, observable
        data. (We will henceforth call the first statement 'the hypothesis',
        and the statements describing observable data, 'observation
        statements'.)
        2. The hypothesis must be of greater explanatory scope than any
        other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must
        imply a greater variety of observation statements.
        3. The hypothesis must be of greater explanatory power than any
        other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must
        make the observation statements it implies more probable than any
        other.
        4. The hypothesis must be more plausible than any other
        incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must be
        implied to some degree by a greater variety of accepted truths than
        any other, and be implied more strongly than any other; and its
        probable negation must be implied by fewer beliefs, and impled less
        strongly than any other.
        5. The hypothesis must be less ad hoc than any other incompatible
        hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must include fewer new
        suppositions about the past which are not already implied to some
        extent by existing beliefs.
        6. It must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs than any other
        incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, when
        conjoined with acceptedd truths it must imply fewer observation
        statements and other statements which are believed to be false.
        7. It must exceed other incompatible hypotheses about the same
        subject by so much, in characteristics 2 to 6, that there is little
        chance of an incompatible hypothesis, after further investigation,
        soon exceeding it in these respects.

        McCullagh sums up, "if the scope and strength of an explanation are
        very great, so that it explain a large number and variety of facts,
        many more than any competing explanation, then it is likely to be
        true." (Justifying Historical Descriptions, 26)

        Statistical Inference

        McCullagh states this form of argument as follows (Justifying
        Historical Descriptions, 48):

        1. There is probability (of the degree p1) that whatever is an A is
        a B.
        2. It is probable (to the degree p2) that this is an A.
        3. Therefore (relative to these premises) it is probable (to the
        degree p1 x p2) that this is a B.

        McCullagh gives this example (Justifying Historical Descriptions, 47):

        1. In thousands of cases, the letters V.S.L.M. appearing at the end
        of a Latin inscription on a tombstone stand for Votum Solvit Libens
        Merito.
        2. From all appearances the letters V.S.L.M. are on this tombstone
        at the end of a Latin inscription.
        3. Therefore these letters on this tombstone stand for Votum Solvit
        Libens Merito.

        This is a syllogism in probabilistic form, making use of a
        generalization formed by induction from numerous examples (as the
        first premise).

        Argument from Analogy

        The structure of the argument is as follows (Justifying Historical
        Descriptions, 85):

        1. One thing (object, event, or state of affairs) has properties p1
        . . . pn and pn + 1.
        2. Another thing has properties p1 . . . pn.
        3. So the latter has property pn + 1.

        McCullagh says that an argument from analogy, if sound, is either a
        "covert statistical syllogism" or better expressed as an argument to
        the best explanation. It is a statistical syllogism when it is
        "established by a sufficient number and variety of instances of the
        generalization"; otherwise, the argument may be invalid because
        properties 1 through n are unrelated to property n + 1, unless
        property n + 1 is the best explanation of properties 1 through n.
        Analogy, therefore, is uncontroversial only when used to suggest
        hypotheses, not as a conclusive argument.

        References

        * Gilbert J. Garraghan, A Guide to Historical Method, Fordham
        University Press: New York (1946). ISBN 0837171326.
        * Louis Gottschalk, Understanding History: A Primer of Historical
        Method, Alfred A. Knopf: New York (1950). ISBN 039430215X.
        * Martha Howell and Walter Prevenier, From Reliable Sources: An
        Introduction to Historical Methods, Cornell University Press: Ithaca
        (2001). ISBN 0801485606.
        * C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions,
        Cambridge University Press: New York (1984). ISBN 0521318300.
        * R. J. Shafer, A Guide to Historical Method, The Dorsey Press:
        Illinois (1974). ISBN 0534108253.

        kind thoughts,
        Peter Kirby
      • Bob Schacht
        ... Peter, Thanks for this summary. However, I d like to ask about a related issue that frequently surfaces on this list, which I don t find covered-- and that
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 28, 2005
        • 0 Attachment
          At 01:50 AM 8/28/2005, KirbTron wrote:
          >Since this is a historically-based list, I thought it fitting to start
          >a discussion of historical method in general by submitting this
          >article for comments.

          Peter,
          Thanks for this summary. However, I'd like to ask about a related issue
          that frequently surfaces on this list, which I don't find covered-- and
          that is, how to decide whether a particular piece of ostensibly historical
          data was made up by the author, or was derived from a prior source. Do
          your resources address this issue?
          I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet this morning, so maybe my first
          reading of your summary has missed something that addresses this issue <g>

          Bob


          >The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which
          >historians use primary sources and other evidence to research and then
          >to write history. The question of the nature, and indeed the
          >possibility, of sound historical method is raised in the philosophy of
          >history, as a question of epistemology. The following summarizes the
          >guidelines commonly used by historians in their work, under the
          >headings of external criticism, internal criticism, and synthesis.
          >
          > * 1 External Criticism: Authenticity and Provenance
          > o 1.1 Higher Criticism
          > o 1.2 Lower Criticism
          > * 2 Internal Criticism: Historical Reliability
          > o 2.1 Eyewitness Evidence
          > o 2.2 Oral Tradition
          > * 3 Synthesis: Historical Reasoning
          > o 3.1 Argument to the Best Explanation
          > o 3.2 Statistical Inference
          > o 3.3 Argument from Analogy
          > * 4 References
          >
          >External Criticism: Authenticity and Provenance
          >
          >Garraghan divides criticism into six inquiries (A Guide to Historical
          >Method, 168):
          >
          > (a) When was the source, written or unwritten, produced (date)?
          > (b) Where was it produced (localization)?
          > (c) By whom was it produced (authorship)?
          > (d) From what pre-existing material was it produced (analysis)?
          > (e) In what original form was it produced (integrity)?
          > (f) What is the evidential value of its contents (credibility)?
          >
          >The first four are known as higher criticism; the fifth, lower
          >criticism; and, together, external criticism. The sixth and final
          >inquiry about a source is called internal criticism.
          >
          >R. J. Shafer on external criticism: "It sometimes is said that its
          >function is negative, merely saving us from using false evidence;
          >whereas internal criticism has the positive function of telling us how
          >to use authenticated evidence." (A Guide to Historical Method, 118)
          >
          >Higher Criticism
          >
          >R. J. Shafer writes, "Determination of authorship and date involves
          >one or all of the following: (a) content analysis, (b) comparison with
          >the content of other evidence, (c) tests of the physical properties of
          >the evidence." (A Guide to Historical Method, 120) Content analysis
          >includes examinations of anachronisms in language, datable references,
          >and consistency with a cultural setting. Comparison with other
          >writings may involve palaeography, the study of style of handwriting,
          >the study of stylometry and comparison of literary style with known
          >authors, or something as simple as a reference to the document's
          >author in another one of his works or by a contemporary. Physical
          >properties include the properties of the paper, the consistency of the
          >ink, and the appearance of a seal, as well as the results of
          >radioactive carbon dating.
          >
          >Lower Criticism
          >
          >Lower criticism is more frequently known as "textual criticism," and
          >it is concerned with determining an accurate text in cases where we
          >have copies instead of the original. Approaches to textual criticism
          >include eclecticism, stemmatics, and cladistics. At the heart of
          >eclecticism is that one should adopt the reading as original that most
          >easily explains the derivation of the alternative readings. Stemmatics
          >attempts to construct a "family tree" of extant manuscripts to help
          >determine the correct reading. Cladistics makes use of statistical
          >analysis in a similar endeavor.
          >
          >Internal Criticism: Historical Reliability
          >
          >Noting that few documents are accepted as completely reliable, Louis
          >Gottschalk sets down the general rule, "for each particular of a
          >document the process of establishing credibility should be separately
          >undertaken regardless of the general credibility of the author." An
          >author's trustworthiness in the main may establish a background
          >probability for the consideration of each statement, but each piece of
          >evidence extracted must be weighed individually.
          >
          >Eyewitness Evidence
          >
          >R. J. Shafer offers this checklist for evaluating eyewitness testimony
          >(A Guide to Historical Method, 157-158):
          >
          > 1. Is the real meaning of the statement different from its literal
          >meaning? Are words used in senses not employed today? Is the statement
          >meant to be ironic (i.e., mean other than it says)?
          > 2. How well could the author observe the thing he reports? Were
          >his senses equal to the observation? Was his physical location
          >suitable to sight, hearing, touch? Did he have the proper social
          >ability to observe: did he understand the language, have other
          >expertise required (e.g., law, military); was he not being intimidated
          >by his wife or the secret police?
          > 3. How did the author report?, and what was his ability to do so?
          > a. Regarding his ability to report, was he biased? Did he have
          >proper time for reporting? Proper place for reporting? Adequate
          >recording instruments?
          > b. When did he report in relation to his observation? Soon? Much
          >later?
          > c. What was the author's intention in reporting? For whom did he
          >report? Would that audience be likely to require or suggest distortion
          >to the author?
          > d. Are there additional clues to intended veracity? Was he
          >indifferent on the subject reported, thus probably not intending
          >distortion? Did he make staements damaging to himself, thus probably
          >not seeking to distort? Did he give incidental or casual information,
          >almost certainly not intended to mislead?
          > 4. Do his statements seem inherently improbable: e.g., contrary to
          >human nature, or in conflict with what we know?
          > 5. Remember that some types of information are easier to observe
          >and report on than others.
          > 6. Are there inner contradictions in the document?
          >
          >Louis Gottschalk adds an additional consideration: "Even when the fact
          >in question may not be well-known, certain kinds of statements are
          >both incidental and probable to such a degree that error or falsehood
          >seems unlikely. If an ancient inscription on a road tells us that a
          >certain proconsl built that road while Augustus was princeps, it may
          >be doubted without further corroboration that that proconsul really
          >built the road, but would be harder to doubt that the road was built
          >during the principate of Augusutus. If an advertisement informs
          >readers that 'A and B Coffee may be bought at any reliable grocer's at
          >the unusual price of fifty cents a pound,' all the inferences of the
          >advertisement may well be doubted without corroboration except that
          >there is a brand of coffee on the market called 'A and B Coffee.'"
          >(Understanding History, 163)
          >
          >Garraghan says that most information comes from "indirect witnesses,"
          >people who were not present on the scene but heard of the events from
          >someone else (A Guide to Historical Method, 292). Gottschalk says that
          >a historian may sometimes use hearsay evidence. He writes, "In cases
          >where he uses secondary witnesses, however, he does not rely upon them
          >fully. On the contrary, he asks: (1) On whose primary testimony does
          >the secondary witness base his statements? (2) Did the secondary
          >witness accurately report the primary testimony as a whole? (3) If
          >not, in what details did he accurately report the primary testimony?
          >Satisfactory answers to the second and third questions may provide the
          >historian with the whole or the gist of the primary testimony upon
          >which the secondary witness may behis only means of knowledge. In such
          >cases the secondary source is the historian's 'original' source, in
          >the sense of being the 'origin' of his knowledge. In so far as this
          >'original' source is an accurate report of primary testimony, he tests
          >its credibility as he would that of the primary testimony itself."
          >(Understanding History, 165)
          >
          >Oral Tradition
          >
          >Gilbert Garraghan maintains that oral tradition may be accepted if it
          >satisfies either two "broad conditions" or six "particular
          >conditions," as follows (A Guide to Historical Method, 261-262):
          >
          > (a) Broad conditions stated.
          > (1) The tradition should be supported by an unbroken series of
          >witnesses, reaching from the immediate and first reporter of the fact
          >to the living mediate witness from whom we take it up, or to the one
          >who was the first to comit it to writing.
          > (2) There should be several parallel and independent series of
          >witnesses testifying to the fact in question.
          > (b) Particular conditions formulated.
          > (1) The tradition must report a public event of importance, such
          >as would necessarily be known directly to a great number of persons.
          > (2) The tradition must have been generally believed, at least for
          >a definite period of time.
          > (3) During that definite period it must have gone without protest,
          >even from persons interested in denying it.
          > (4) The tradition must be one of relatively limited duration.
          >[Elsewhere, Garraghan suggests a maximum limit of 150 years, at least
          >in cultures that excel in oral remembrance.]
          > (5) The critical spirit must have been sufficiently developed
          >while the tradition lasted, and the necessary means of critical
          >investigation must have been at hand.
          > (6) Critical-minded persons who would surely have challenged the
          >tradition, had they considered it false, must have made no such
          >challenge.
          >
          >Other methods of verifying oral tradition may exist, such as
          >comparison with the evidence of archaeological remains.
          >
          >More recent evidence concerning the potential reliability of oral
          >tradition has come out of fieldwork in West Africa and the Middle
          >East. (See J. Vansina, De la tradition orale. Essai de méthode
          >historique, in translation as Oral Tradition as History, as well as K.
          >E. Bailey, "Informed Controlled Oral Tradition and the Synoptic
          >Gospels," Asia Journal of Theology [1991], 34-54. Note also the
          >Icelandic sagas, such as that by Snorri Sturlason in the thirteenth
          >century, and A. B. Lord's study of Slavic bards in The Singer of
          >Tales.)
          >
          >Synthesis: Historical Reasoning
          >
          >Once individual pieces of information have been assessed in context,
          >hypotheses can be formed and established by historical reasoning.
          >
          >Argument to the Best Explanation
          >
          >C. Behan McCullagh lays down seven conditions for a successful
          >argument to the best explanation (Justifying Historical Descriptions,
          >19):
          >
          > 1. The statement, together with other statements already held to be
          >true, must imply yet other statements describing present, observable
          >data. (We will henceforth call the first statement 'the hypothesis',
          >and the statements describing observable data, 'observation
          >statements'.)
          > 2. The hypothesis must be of greater explanatory scope than any
          >other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must
          >imply a greater variety of observation statements.
          > 3. The hypothesis must be of greater explanatory power than any
          >other incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must
          >make the observation statements it implies more probable than any
          >other.
          > 4. The hypothesis must be more plausible than any other
          >incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must be
          >implied to some degree by a greater variety of accepted truths than
          >any other, and be implied more strongly than any other; and its
          >probable negation must be implied by fewer beliefs, and impled less
          >strongly than any other.
          > 5. The hypothesis must be less ad hoc than any other incompatible
          >hypothesis about the same subject; that is, it must include fewer new
          >suppositions about the past which are not already implied to some
          >extent by existing beliefs.
          > 6. It must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs than any other
          >incompatible hypothesis about the same subject; that is, when
          >conjoined with acceptedd truths it must imply fewer observation
          >statements and other statements which are believed to be false.
          > 7. It must exceed other incompatible hypotheses about the same
          >subject by so much, in characteristics 2 to 6, that there is little
          >chance of an incompatible hypothesis, after further investigation,
          >soon exceeding it in these respects.
          >
          >McCullagh sums up, "if the scope and strength of an explanation are
          >very great, so that it explain a large number and variety of facts,
          >many more than any competing explanation, then it is likely to be
          >true." (Justifying Historical Descriptions, 26)
          >
          >Statistical Inference
          >
          >McCullagh states this form of argument as follows (Justifying
          >Historical Descriptions, 48):
          >
          > 1. There is probability (of the degree p1) that whatever is an A is
          >a B.
          > 2. It is probable (to the degree p2) that this is an A.
          > 3. Therefore (relative to these premises) it is probable (to the
          >degree p1 x p2) that this is a B.
          >
          >McCullagh gives this example (Justifying Historical Descriptions, 47):
          >
          > 1. In thousands of cases, the letters V.S.L.M. appearing at the end
          >of a Latin inscription on a tombstone stand for Votum Solvit Libens
          >Merito.
          > 2. From all appearances the letters V.S.L.M. are on this tombstone
          >at the end of a Latin inscription.
          > 3. Therefore these letters on this tombstone stand for Votum Solvit
          >Libens Merito.
          >
          >This is a syllogism in probabilistic form, making use of a
          >generalization formed by induction from numerous examples (as the
          >first premise).
          >
          >Argument from Analogy
          >
          >The structure of the argument is as follows (Justifying Historical
          >Descriptions, 85):
          >
          > 1. One thing (object, event, or state of affairs) has properties p1
          >. . . pn and pn + 1.
          > 2. Another thing has properties p1 . . . pn.
          > 3. So the latter has property pn + 1.
          >
          >McCullagh says that an argument from analogy, if sound, is either a
          >"covert statistical syllogism" or better expressed as an argument to
          >the best explanation. It is a statistical syllogism when it is
          >"established by a sufficient number and variety of instances of the
          >generalization"; otherwise, the argument may be invalid because
          >properties 1 through n are unrelated to property n + 1, unless
          >property n + 1 is the best explanation of properties 1 through n.
          >Analogy, therefore, is uncontroversial only when used to suggest
          >hypotheses, not as a conclusive argument.
          >
          >References
          >
          > * Gilbert J. Garraghan, A Guide to Historical Method, Fordham
          >University Press: New York (1946). ISBN 0837171326.
          > * Louis Gottschalk, Understanding History: A Primer of Historical
          >Method, Alfred A. Knopf: New York (1950). ISBN 039430215X.
          > * Martha Howell and Walter Prevenier, From Reliable Sources: An
          >Introduction to Historical Methods, Cornell University Press: Ithaca
          >(2001). ISBN 0801485606.
          > * C. Behan McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions,
          >Cambridge University Press: New York (1984). ISBN 0521318300.
          > * R. J. Shafer, A Guide to Historical Method, The Dorsey Press:
          >Illinois (1974). ISBN 0534108253.
          >
          >kind thoughts,
          >Peter Kirby
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >The XTalk Home Page is
          ><http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/>http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
          >
          >To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >List managers may be contacted directly at: crosstalk2-owners@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >----------
          >YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
          >
          > * Visit your group
          > "<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2>crosstalk2" on the web.
          > *
          > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > *
          > <mailto:crosstalk2-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com?subject=Unsubscribe>crosstalk2-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > *
          > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
          > <http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/>Yahoo! Terms of Service.
          >
          >
          >----------


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Ernest Pennells
          [Peter Kirby] ... ...
          Message 4 of 4 , Aug 29, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            [Peter Kirby]
            >I thought it fitting to start a discussion of historical method in general
            ...<

            Your essay focuses primarily on sources, Peter. I would prefer to give
            stronger profile to posing the right questions. ISTM that the most helpful
            contributions to HJ research have come from broad considerations. It is
            within living memory that the scholarly community has taken Jesus'
            Jewishness seriously. The significance of the distinction between Galilean
            and Judaean is even more recent.

            A quarrel that I have raised on this list before relates to the intensity of
            focus upon the era in which the Gospels were written. That's right for the
            literature, but not best for HJ. It is his lifetime and the specifics of
            the socio-historical setting in which he worked that matter most.

            Textual evidence is of course a major component of the sources of
            information available to us, but undue preoccupation with texts may act as
            blinkers.

            Regards,

            Ernie Pennells
            Samaa el Maadi Tower No 2B
            Level 12 Apartment 4
            28 Corniche el Nil
            Cairo, Egypt
            Tel: (20-2)526 6383 Mobile 0121001490
            http://www.trafford.com/4dcgi/robots/03-1982.html
          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.