Re: [XTalk] Scientific methodology
- From: "Fabrizio Palestini" <fabrizio.palestini@...>
> In fact, the priority of Marcion's version doesn't lead automatically to
> marcionite origin of the Pauline Epistles, we have other possibilities.dedicate
> But exactly at this point the SCIENTIFIC methodology must lead us.
> In scientific fields, facing a more or less complex phenomenon, the
> researchers ALWAYS test the simpler, linear, easier hypothesis, to
> to the others in a second time (if the first wasn't properly satisfyingAs you wield Occam's razor, be careful where you slice. In what way is the
hypothesis that the Pauline correspondence was falsified by Marcion a
century after its purported origin simpler than the hypothesis that the
correspondence (or the major part of it) is authentic, through perhaps
subjected to interpolations?
> But seeing your argument, I can but ask myself what is the motive why
> discard the hypothesis of marcionite authorship (a simple and logictheory,
> seeing the anteriority of the marcionite version over the orthodox one),in
> favour of a pauline authorship, a first marcionite redaction, and a secondI do not know of any prima facie evidence for Marcionite authorship. The
> orthodox redaction (!) (a more complex theory, and even more important a
> theory without scarce predictive capacity!!!!!
defense of this hypothesis requires proving the pre-Marcionite use of this
correspondence (e.g., by Ignatius) as a further case of falsification. Only
thus can you establish Marcion's priority in the use of this correspondence.
Detering has tried to show that our text of Galatians is the result of what
he calls a "catholic" redaction, the intent of which was to make Paul more
acceptable to mainstream Christianity. The author of the original letters as
reconstructed by Detering claims to have received a separate revelation from
the risen Christ, to have authority based on that revelation independent of
the established line of authority represented by the family of Jesus and the
apostles; on the basis of this revelation and authority the author claims
that the new dispensation has given humanity freedom from the strictures of
the Law of Moses. I found much of the grammatical analysis cogent, but I do
not agree with Detering's conclusion and I do not find it simpler. Detering
finds interpolations in the text of Paul's letters and concludes that the
reconstructed original text is not by Paul, because it resembles the ideas
of a second-century heretic. I cannot see how that follows. Detering's
analysis does present us with a somewhat more radical Paul than we are used
to seeing, one more at odds with the Jerusalem establishment than we used to
think, but essentially still recognizably the same individual.
> How can we reconstruct thein
> primitive pauline text? Who was Paul? Etc... If the situation was the
> opposite, I could understand a tendency towards a more predictive theory,
> fact is a perfectly understandable human behaviour to prefer what canoffer
> us more interesting result!).marcionite
> The scientific approach forces us to investigate ALL TOGETHER the
> authorship, in each its aspect, to test its predictive possibilities, itsother
> internal coherence etc., and only AFTER that to test ALL TOGETHER the
> hypothesis.What we should do is to weigh the internal evidence of Paul's authorship
against the new hypothesis for Marcion's authorship.
>The fact is that thein
> conservative tendency (a perfectly understandable human weakness) becomes
> NT studies a not casual factor of deviation from the most plausibleIt seems to me that it is a question of the burden of proof that is
incumbent on anyone who comes up with a radically new thesis. I have
recently read a very erudite book trying to prove that the Almagest of
Ptolemy was written shortly before the time of its discovery, in the
eleventh century A.D., I believe. It is a hypothesis worth investigating,
but it cannot be given preference just because it's allegedly "simpler".
> A scientist (in other fields) would say: ok, the marcionite theory is
> and we'll test it to its farthest consequences; but we have other theoryto
> investigate then, so let set to work!other
> Instead, you say: why this imply that Marcion is the author? There are
> Yes, there are! But you show a tendency to defend the orthodox picture!
> accept only with difficulty a perfectly reasonable theory, and thisI am yet to see convincing evidence that Marcion authored the Pauline
> prejudiced approach will cause surely a defect in your results.
Corpus. The evidence that Paul authored much of the Pauline corpus is right
there in the letters that reflect the conditions and conflicts of the first
century. Postulating a clever falsifier a century later, capable of
plausibly recapturing those conditions and conflicts does not make for a
simpler theory in my opinion.
- Dear Steve and Fabrizion,
Excuse the cheeky observation, :), but Collingwood argued that the problem
with 19th cent history was precisely that it tried to be ³scientific²
whereas he would argue that doing history is not the same thing as doing
science. As to simplicity: did not none other than the great sleuth Holmes
(esteemed among true NT scholars) once say ³rule out all the impossible
alternatives and the remaining option, no matter how improbable, is the
correct one²? (or something like that?)
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- At 07:10 PM 8/30/01 +0200, Fabrizio wrote:
>Dear XTalk's members,Part of the reason for this, as we have discussed on XTalk before, is that
>...What I'll try to offer is a careful SCIENTIFIC methodology (to be
>clear, what distinguish SCIENCE from PSEUDOSCIENCE is absolutely not the
>results, which can be casually the same, but the approach, the
>methodology) which in my view is still partially lacking in NT researches.
most members of this list do not believe that the scientific method works
with our data. I happen to agree with your statement above, but I don't
have much support on this list for a "scientific' approach. However, I am
not impressed by your knowledge of scientific methodology, because you also
>...But exactly at this point the SCIENTIFIC methodology must lead us.As Jan Sammer pointed out, you are referring here to Occam's Razor, which
>In scientific fields, facing a more or less complex phenomenon, the
>researchers ALWAYS test the simpler, linear, easier hypothesis, to
>dedicate to the others in a second time (if the first wasn't properly
is a 14th century *pre-scientific* principle of philosophy. Furthermore,
you don't even seem to be very familiar with Occam's Razor, which states
that "multiplicity ought not be posited without necessity." Simpler
hypotheses are only to be preferred *if everything else is equal* (ceteris
paribus, if I remember correctly). Of course, everything is often not equal.
>...The scientific approach forces us to investigate ALL TOGETHER theAs Jan pointed out, your priorities are all wrong. It is in fact the
>marcionite authorship, in each its aspect, to test its predictive
>possibilities, its internal coherence etc., and only AFTER that to test
>ALL TOGETHER the other hypothesis....
Marcionite authorship hypothesis that is more complex, by far, because it
requires a host of other forgeries in order to be sustained.
I would also like to address other recent expressions of interest in
A number of comments fall into the category of casting brickbats from the
OK, criticize the Principle of Multiple Attestation or the Principle of
Coherence-- But I challenge those who would do so to offer what methods
they would use instead to decide what deeds or sayings of Jesus are
historical, and which aren't?
There's nothing wrong with the Principle of Multiple Attestation, IMHO. The
problem is deciding what qualifies as multiple? For example, does Triple
tradition material count as multiple attestation or not? Of course, the
principle demands multiple *independent* attestation, so if one source can
be shown to be dependent on another source, then the dependent source can't
be counted as multiple. The fact that the relationship among documents is
complex does not imply a fault with the Principle of Multiple Attestation;
it merely tells us that it is not always easy to apply the principle.
Of course, criticism of the "Criteria" is not new. Those of you who are
interested in this issue (which really should be everyone here) really
ought to read the methodology chapters in Crossan's The Birth of
Christianity. Whether you agree with him or not, Crossan's discussion of
methodological issues is more sophisticated than most others in the field.
After supporting the use of the "Criteria" in the Jesus Seminar back at the
time the JSem was working on The Five Gospels, Crossan has backed off using
the "Criteria", mostly because of the way that they have been used.
Whether that makes the use of those Criteria obsolete is arguable, *but at
least you ought to know his arguments.*
Of course, Tom Wright has gotten fed up not only with those Criteria, but
also with most of the classical tools of critical scholarship, so he has
gone off in a whole different direction. I do not understand his method
well enough yet to criticize it. I *do* understand Crossan's method well
enough to criticize it, but in doing so I also recognize that he has
thought more deeply about those issues than most historical Jesus scholars,
so I respect his methodology in general, even when I disagree with it, and
I become impatient with people who say they're interested in methodology
but don't bother to read Crossan. Sorry, I guess I'm becoming an old
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