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Re: [XTalk] Re: Honorable debate in agonistic cultures

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  • Brian McCarthy
    Dave, Thanks for the Munslow reference. I will add it to my endless list of BOOKS TO BE READ SOON! Meanwhile can you name any major working historians who are
    Message 1 of 109 , May 31, 2001

      Thanks for the Munslow reference. I will add it to my endless list of BOOKS TO BE READ SOON!

      Meanwhile can you name any major working historians who are deconstructionists?

      If you can name some, do you think they do better history than those major ones who are not?

      To me the deconstructionists are like the Critics in literature for whom masterpieces are so much raw material for them to do exercises on; and none of whom has produced a major poem or novel.

      There are rumors that in literature this fad is fading. If so it will take Bible studies 10 or 15 years to notice the fade, just as it took them years to discover the movement.

      Perhaps the situation in Bible studies 10/15 years ago was like that in western classical music in the early 20th century: almost everything worth doing had already been done! So in bible studies there was a big rush towards a) the Dead Sea Scrolls, b) Nag Hammadi, c) Deconstruction etc.

      Brian McCarthy
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: David C. Hindley
      To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2001 3:28 PM
      Subject: RE: [XTalk] Re: Honorable debate in agonistic cultures

      Brian McCarthy said:

      >>Which is why deconstructionists dont have anything of interest to
      say about the past, while good historians strive to constantly refine
      and enrich their perceptions of it.

      Recently for example, RETHINKING THE HOLOCAUST, by Yehuda Bauer. Who
      has no illusions about perfect representation of past realities, but
      knows we can obtain real knowledge and can constantly progress in
      knowledge as historians all aiming at the impossible ideal of perfect
      objectivity, and each with his/her more or less clearly recognized
      perspective, rub off each other.

      Mere deconstruction spirals slowly into sterile futility and
      hyper-sophisticated chatter.<<


      Like I said, "This question of the biases of the historian is a hot
      button for some." <g>

      "Deconstructionist historians," according to Alun Munslow (another of
      my favorite non-biblical historians, _Deconstructing History_,
      Routledge, 1997), "do not automatically doubt the truth of individual
      referential statements, nor do they claim that it is impossible to
      demonstrate that certain events did or did not happen, that people
      were not short or tall, that decisions were or were not made, or that
      millions of Jews in the early part of the twentieth century were
      murdered by the German Nazi regime."

      So, they are not really trying to render worthless the task of
      historians by rejecting events that cannot be represented perfectly. I
      do not know where you got your understanding of their methods.

      Rather, Munslow continues, "the deconstructive emphasis is upon the
      procedure for creating historical knowledge when we deal with the
      evidence. We are aware that we make simple verifiable statements,
      which we compose in a narrative so that they become meaningful (not
      necessarily the same as truthful)." (page 149)

      There is nothing in this that rejects "real knowledge" or denies that
      historians "can constantly progress in knowledge."

      I would recommend Munslow's above book for a thorough review of modern
      historical approaches and their philosophical assumptions. He is
      non-judgmental or preachy, and might dispel some of your reservations.


      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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    • Loren Rosson
      [James] Do you think these folks were armed? [Loren] No. With the possible exception of the Samaritan Prophet, the popular prophets didn t lead armed revolts.
      Message 109 of 109 , Jun 18, 2001
        Do you think these folks were armed?

        No. With the possible exception of the Samaritan
        Prophet, the popular prophets didn't lead armed
        revolts. "Violence" was left as the prerogative of God
        alone, when He soon acted. Jesus followed suit here,
        never condoning human violence, elsewhere promising
        divine retribution (as in Mt. 11:20-24/Lk. 10:13-16).

        So, would you say that it is possible that the masses
        went out just to see IF a miracle would be performed,
        rather than to participate? Would they necessarily
        had any clue as to the chance of being
        slaughtered as they were?

        I think the masses went out because they believed,
        fervently, that God would act; that the Kingdom was
        imminent. I see no reason to question the enthusiastic
        level of their participation in the march around
        Jerusalem's walls.

        How many do you suppose there actually were?

        A lot -- these are called "popular" prophets for good

        Josephus is surely exaggerating with the numbers
        though, isn't he?

        Probably. I imagine hundreds, rather than thousands,
        of followers for the Egyptian prophet.

        What do you think was their reason for being
        there? Just to innocently see if the Egyptian's
        claim would come to pass or to
        actually fight their way into Jerusalem?

        I believe they circled Jerusalem with the expectation
        that (at the prophet's command) the walls of the city
        would come tumbling down, as Joshua's legendary shout
        had done to the walls of Jericho in ages past. This
        would have been the first apoacalyptic prelude to the
        Kingdom of God. I don't know how "innocent" this is,
        but I sense your sarcasm. However preposterous and
        naive such expectations may seem to us, they were no
        more so than, say, those of the followers of Theudas,
        who was supposed to have parted the waters of the
        Jordan before getting decapitated by Cuspius Fadus.

        Well, I'm wondering how we know any of these people
        were really doing anything more than going out to
        possibly observe a miracle...I'm reacting to the
        following article written by an historian who seems to
        paint first century peoples with too broad of a brush
        of gullibility, in an attempt to give us the
        background against which we should view claims about
        Jesus' miracles:


        If you have the time, I'd appreciate any
        feedback/guidance on the overall quality of/points
        raised in that article.

        I would say the author of this article is daft,
        deluded, and devoid of sense. His disdain for the
        people of antiquity is galling. He writes:

        "The age of Jesus was not an age of critical
        reflection and remarkable religious acumen. It was an
        era filled with con artists, gullible believers,
        martyrs without a cause, and reputed miracles of every
        variety. In light of this picture, the tales of the
        gospels do not seem remarkable at all. Even if they
        were false in every detail, there is no evidence that
        they would have been disbelieved or rejected as absurd
        by a people largely lacking in education or critical
        thinking skills. They had no newspapers, telephones,
        photographs, or public documents to consult to check a
        story...The shouts of the credulous rabble overpowered
        their voice and seized the world from them, boldly
        leading them all into the darkness of a thousand years
        of chaos."

        First of all, we cannot dismiss the movements of
        Theudas, the Egyptian Prophet, John the Baptist, or
        Jesus of Nazareth with the above sort of indictment.
        Much in these prophetic movements can be commended,
        just as much can be criticized. But we fail miserably
        in the historical task when we judge the past by
        so-called "enlightened" standards. Secondly, far from
        lacking "religious acumen", the age of Jesus -- that
        is, 2nd-Temple Judaism -- was marked by vibrancy,
        diversity, and (often enough) fierce intelligence.
        Obviously the author and I have very different views
        of the people of antiquity.

        So I can appreciate you reacting against this fellow.
        But that the Egyptian prophet and his followers were
        incited to riot (mad as they were under the Romans and
        Judean elite), and that they fervently believed Yahweh
        would soon act dramatically in history (in accordance
        with ways He had in the past), does not necessarily
        make the leader a "con artist" nor his followers
        "gullible". Does it?

        Loren Rosson III
        Nashua NH

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