RE: [GTh] Re: GTh 9 The Seed Parable (the Parable of the Sower)
- -----Original Message-----
From: FMMCCOY [mailto:FMMCCOY@...]
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2001 9:12 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] Re: GTh 9 The Seed Parable (the Parable of the Sower)
F. McCoy Wrote:
To characterize my analysis as a "sermon" is an interesting version of tar
and feathering by innuendo, but it fails to address the evidence I produce
to support my ideas.
My remark was not meant to offend you, or to tar and feather you by innuendo
or any other means. Instead, I simply meant to direct attention to the fact
that your methodology conflicts with that which is conventionally used in
historical-critical investigation. Presumably, on this list, adherence to
the latter methodology is pre-supposed. On other lists, such as the Gospel
of Thomas list, it is not. In fact there, "expositions" are welcomed and
F. McCoy Wrote:
There's something fatally flawed in the current historical-critical
methodology and/or with current scholarly peer review procedures, for they
have not advanced our knowledge regarding Jesus an iota.. The March 7, 1998
Minneapolis Star Tribune cites this quote by Yonat Simron of the Raleigh
News & Observor, "About the only thing a group of seven internationally
known Jesus historians would agree on at a recent conference in Chapel Hill
was that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by Pontus
Depending on one's perspective, the Star Tribune article cited above may
indeed be interpreted as proof that historical-critical methodology is
flawed. On the other hand, from a different perspective, it could be
understood that it is an indication that the methodology actually works the
way it is supposed to work. One could say that, with respect to the
historical Jesus, critical scholarship has managed to separate verifiable
historical facts from the interpretive overlay that was applied to Jesus by
a few of his earliest followers. That, I argue from my perspective, is a
To be sure, there are many who object loudly to what modern scholarship has
accomplished. Among other things it has indirectly challenged the "primal
'childhood package' of Christian convictions" (Funk, Robert. _Honest to
Jesus_. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996 . According to Funk,
that "package" consists of six assertions:
1. There is a God in "heaven."
2. God loves me
3. Jesus is God's son.
4. Jesus died for my sins.
5. God speaks to us through the Bible.
6. I must believe these things or else I won't go to heaven.
Funk also points out that the "childhood package" of convictions shifts at
some time in life to the "adult edition" which contains the convictions that
are most directly challenged by historical-critical scholarship.
1. Jesus is the son of God.
2. Jesus was born by a virgin.
3. Jesus died on a cross as a sacrifice to atone for humanity's sins.
4. Jesus rose bodily from his tomb.
5. Jesus will come again to sit in judgment.
Clearly, scholarly research that can verify to its satisfaction only that
Jesus was baptized by JBap and that he was executed by Pilate (as well as a
few other things which the Raleigh News and Observer reporter seems to have
missed and that the Star Tribune editorial staff neglected to verify), does
nothing to validate the convictions of either the "childhood" or "adult"
packages of Christian beliefs. In fact, it calls to attention that these
convictions are just that: "convictions." They are NOT facts.
It is understandable that those who embrace these convictions continue to
try to defend them as "facts." This they do by repeating what they believe
over and over, in louder and louder words, to larger and larger audiences
and then by retreating to the final line of defense which is yet another
conviction: that the gospels and the Bible, are at least completely reliable
historical records, if not the inerrant and infallible "Word of God" and
therefore exempt from the same kind of vigorous scrutiny applied to other
ancient texts. Talk about tar and feathers. The quacks and charlatans who
incite popular opinion are really not much more than leaders of
anti-intellectual lynch mobs (in my humble opinion).
The position I am trying to argue is that the objective of
historical-critical methodology is to identify evidence, then to apply to
that evidence standardized mutually agreed-upon criteria and thereby to
determine the credibility of the evidence then finally to state its
conclusions. The discipline is not obligated to reach conclusions that
affirm convictions nor is it restrained from reaching conclusions that
undermine convictions. If there is ever going to be anything that resembles
civil dialogue about the published conclusions of modern critical
scholarship, it seems to me that the topic of conversation should not be the
offending conclusions, and maybe not even the evidence, but the assumptions
that underlie the methodology (especially the rules of evidentiary
Therefore you are absolutely correct in what you wrote here:
In the final analysis, an idea has to stand or fall on the evidence. An
appeal to authority neither validates an idea nor invalidates an ideaonly
the evidence can.
To which I might add, with your permission, "Only credible evidence can
validate a conclusion."
The question of whether a parallel indicates an influence and the question
of whether an influence indicates sources are to be handled on a case by
case basis and, in each case, the answer is to be determined by examining
And again, by examining the CREDIBILITY of the evidence.
With Sincerest Respect To Your Convictions,
Humble Maine Woodsman