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Re: [XTalk] Reed's Galilee

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... far. ... Apologies entirely unnecessary, Jim. I did not read your post as a deliberate attempt to mischaracterize me or anyone else. Rather, I used it as a
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 26, 2002
      I wrote:

      > > It is misleading to characterize those try to expose chinks in the armor
      > > of Reed's intellectual assault as "anti-Reed."

      Jim Bacon replied:

      > My apologies. I did not mean to imply that anyone, much less you, was
      > personally antagonistic to Jonathan Reed. XTalk is a collegial group and
      > personal attacks are a rarity. It never occurred to me that my words would
      > be read in that way. <SNIP>
      > I was not trying to mischaracterize anyone's position on this issue, but
      > only to summarize the implications of what you and others had posted so
      far.
      > With your most recent post, you stated your own interpretation of
      > cultural continuity/conflict in Galilee more explicitly than you had in
      > previous posts.You moved the debate considerably forward. Indeed, I find
      > your interpretation largely convincing. Well done!

      Apologies entirely unnecessary, Jim. I did not read your post as a
      deliberate attempt to mischaracterize me or anyone else. Rather, I used it
      as a springboard to make some clarifications regarding the cultural
      continuity hypothesis that I realized may not have been evident to all on
      list from what Ted Weeden or I had already posted, since some may not have
      read Horsley or remember the long debate on CrossTalk that I, Steve Davies,
      Bob Schacht, & others had regarding his thesis more than a year ago. There
      were some points regarding the concerns & reasoning of those who are
      sympathetic to Horsley's thesis that I wanted to put back on the table, &
      your post just afforded me a good opportunity to do so.

      People who do not have extensive experience in public debate may
      misinterpret extended critiques of the logic of another person's thesis as
      an *ad hominem* attack. Sometimes even scholars can get that impression
      (e.g., Jimmy Dunn's recently posted remarks about Ted Weeden being "out to
      get" Bailey). Publicly posted email can exaggerate this misimpression
      because it is an impersonal means of communication with all the trappings of
      direct personal correspondence. That is why, you will note, I avoided
      addressing you personally regarding any points in your post that I
      identified as "misleading" or "not quite accurate." The only point where I
      did address you personally is near the end, where I voiced *agreement* with
      your suggestion that the truth of the situation probably lies somewhere
      between the extremes.

      As a lifelong inveterate debater (most of my 60+ years, as my parents would
      confirm if they were still here) & a veteran teacher, I have come to take
      for granted that critiques of the logic or evidential base of theses that
      anyone has proposed should be delivered & received in the spirit of a
      *constructive* attempt to clarify & correct the statements in question for
      mutual benefit. At least that is how I took my own teachers' devastating
      dissection of the logic of the theses I submitted to them & how I still take
      critiques of my publications or posts to this or other lists.

      Over my lifetime I have lost many debates or been challenged to produce
      evidence to support my claims or else modify them. There is nothing
      intentionally hostile or personal in any of that. In fact, as most scholars
      who have sparred with each other in the JS would attest, it actually can
      build a lasting sense of mutual respect & camaraderie. It is only pompous
      or delicate psyches which always have to be correct & commended that might
      think otherwise. On this list I have had extensive debates on scholarly
      conclusions with Ted Weeden, Dom Crossan, Mark Goodacre, Stephen Carlson,
      Stevan Davies, etc., etc. And these debates have only served to strengthen
      my admiration for their intellectual acumen & deepened my fondness for them
      as honest, decent persons -- the sort of people I'm proud to call friends,
      even though I still draw different conclusions than they regarding the
      subjects we debate.

      Such sparring is the intellectual's equivalent of physical wrestling. It is
      a sport designed to strengthen & test the agility of all participants. And
      like any sport it can lead to lasting bonding, whoever may win or lose a
      particular match. Unless I regularly find sparring partners, I am apt to get
      intellectually sloppy from too much indulgence in my own ideas. That is why
      I find it hard being a lurker in any debate & why I am also tempted to
      become an e-list junkie, addicted to the stimulation of nearly live debate,
      rather than shutting myself up a library to devour the contents of books
      that don't immediately respond to my critiques.

      Sometimes, just to complete a research project I have to go on a
      self-imposed e-list fast. From my brief, recent cordial off-list
      correspondence with Jonathan Reed, I would hazard a guess that he feels very
      much the same. Were it not for other pressing commitments, he would be very
      tempted to jump into this debate. I can sympathize with his twice voiced
      reluctance to "join in."

      I too should really be doing other research right now. But at the same time
      I regret that my own mental facilities have not been sharpened by an
      extensive interactive debate with an able scholar & archaeologist who did
      not hesitate to take on so formidable an opponent as Dick Horsley. That may
      be why I jumped at the opportunity to spar with your post. Thanks for giving
      me the mental exercise. I never meant to beat up on you personally. You are
      gracious in your assessment that I somehow "moved the debate forward,"
      though I am very much aware that Reed himself remains unmoved. In the
      meantime I'd better prepare for an anticipated future match by devouring his
      book. It might reveal other vulnerable spots in his thesis ;-)

      Shalom!

      Mahlon

      Mahlon H. Smith
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ 08901

      http://religion.rutgers.edu/profiles/mh_smith.html

      Synoptic Gospels Primer
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
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