Thank you for offering yourself to this discussion.
My question comes from the left field where I roost. It has to do with the
(in my view) necessity that Jesus Seminar folks make their own faith stances
clear, their scientific/metaphysical presuppositions. Tom Sheehan reminded
us in October that this is one of the major features of Strauss' Life of
Jesus that's been missing in the Seminar.
I'd suggest, as a minimum, that you/we make these two distinctions:
1. Difference between "Liberal" and "Literal" styles of religion, where we
are all identified within the first not the second, and assume, with Philo,
Origen et al that the key terms in religion are to be taken symbolically,
metaphorically, parabolically, rather than literally. Or: that we think the
literal reading is coherent only within a first century SCIENTIFIC worldview,
which nobody today shares.
2. Difference between "liberal" and "conservative/literal" SCHOLARSHIP.
When faced with a conflict between scholarship and the received/traditional
faith, liberal scholarship stays with the scholarship, no matter what it may
do to the faith, conservative/literal scholarship stays with the
received/tradition faith, even if they must ignore or bracket the
Mind you, I'm not suggesting you duck questions like these. You've been
pretty clear. But we're talking, in part, about method, and I think that
part of our method needs to be clarifying our presuppositions, and
distinguishing between scholarship in the service of orthodoxy
(conservative/literal) and scholarship in the service of evolving
What do you think? If you agree, can you think of a clearer way to do
this? If you don't think this is important, why not?
I figured something out, at least one part of the conversation I was
posing. I think I
want to ask at least this one specific question (though there are so
many others I want
to ask, too):
What about our discipline makes you say this:
Impossibility, on the one hand, fought with uniqueness, on the other. I
claimed that both
those positions were absolutely impossible in the first centuries of the
common era. They
were not, in other words, ancient options, but modern alternatives.
Because of that, I do
not find the disjunctive
options you offer particularly helpful. They are actually unhistorical
when applied to
ancient times and until we get back to those ancient times, we will not
they took absolutely for granted culturally and socially (namely, that
all those events
could and did happen) ***and, only
thereafter***, understand the true alternatives that faced everybody involved
(be they pro-or anti-Christian).
"Helpful" to what end? More clearly(?): Why should we care about those
people and those
times? I don't mean that glibly, but am interested in seeing if a
certain vector of
disciplinary power can be uncovered by asking it. Of course a simple
answer would be:
because the texts came from that time. Which is useful to say, but I'm
does this become important? (note: I did not ask *why*, but *how*)