[HJMatMeth] Re: Here's to peanuts...
- Once again, David, we are concerned with the borderline between abstract
theory and concrete example. I concede that if we stay in theory we could
easily persuade ourselves that historical reconstruction can never be done,
that we are so locked into bias and prejudice, opinion and viewpoint, that
all we can ever do is operate power plays on one another. And maybe at this
stage I am willing to announce one foundational presupposition (dogma, if
you prefer), namely, that historical reconstruction can and must be done. I
presume the definition that I gave you in BofC for historical
reconstruction. Why is that a foundational presupposition? Because we
believe that we live under law and we think that in matters of life and
death twelve people can reconstruct the past beyond a reasonable doubt. If
there is no historical reconstruction possible, there is no life under law
possible either. Is it necessary to emphasize all those times when
reconstruction occurs incorrectly? My point is very simple, and I am
repeating myself from BofC. Due process in legal indictment or historical
reconstruction demands self conscious and self critical assessment of what
we are doing, how we are doing it, and why we are doing it that way rather
than some other. The better your due process, the better your method. But,
in summary, historical reconstruction would be impossible (in theoretical
debate) if it was not necessary (in actual life). Finally, you ask "Who is
historical research "FOR" and who is it "AGAINST." I agree with you that it
is for anyone who considers it important in general life or significant in
an individual case, but I would not say it is "AGAINST dogma." Historical
reconstruction is against all those who say it cannot be done in general or
it should not be done in this particular case. It is also against those who
say the first when they mean the second (sorry about that repetition from
the opening paragraph of The Historical Jesus).
>From: "David Amador" <thevoidboy@...>
>Subject: [HJMatMeth] Here's to peanuts...
>Date: Sun, Feb 13, 2000, 11:45 AM
> Dominic -
> Thank you for your thoughtful response, and since my concerns will be more
> tangential to the current conversation as it is shaping up, I'll try not to
> interrupt the conversation too often, or demand one thread of it continue
> along my interests.
> Along with Davidson Loehr, however, I am also interested in the
> presuppositions, presumptions, judgments and values at work behind this
> whole question of method, not because I think we should find a way to
> transform our discipline into something that can escape them, nor because I
> want to elicit a 'confession' of where you are coming from. I do not
> believe we can escape the values inherent in our disciplinary efforts, nor
> should we. And I do not believe we gain anything by
> sociological/ideological 'confessionalism', which is an academic counterpart
> to the high-school proclivity of saying, 'well, that's just your/my
> What I want to ask, however, is whether it would be of any interest to you
> to engage in a discussion that I know my students who are on-line are very
> interested in overhearing, perhaps even participating in: when you say
> something like, "I choose to develop this method/ology, because it is better
> than the ones I have seen around," I am wondering if you would care to
> reflect a bit on: better at doing what?
> And such a question is 'intended' to elicit something more than the answer
> "at doing history", because it is precisely this that I have been wondering
> about in my own research: what does it mean to do history, esp. history
> about Jesus? what do you hope to achieve? what are the effects of choosing
> these particular methods and their goals within a disciplinary paradigm of
> new testament studies as historical research? who is historical research FOR
> and who is it AGAINST?
> I suspect that at least part of the answer is something like: it is FOR
> those interested in coming to grips, as best they can, with the best
> possible reconstruction of the life of Jesus, and it is AGAINST dogma. But
> then, I begin to wonder: there sure appears to be something quite dogmatic
> about what we do as scholars (not just with respect to the results of
> inquiry, nor particularly the methods of inquiry, but also that what we do
> as historians should not be associated with or answerable to dogma).
> I have been asking and wondering and searching for answers to what appears
> to be a very simple questions, but ends up being quite complex: just what is
> OUR 'dogma', and can we be quite sure that 1) church dogmatics do not
> (should not?) enter in and 2) historical (disciplinary) dogmatics do not
> (should not?) enter in?
> I know I'm not being clear, and I apologize for it. And please know, I do
> not have any hidden 'agenda', but am engaged in an understanding of the
> ramifications of our discipline's habits. I was once very intrigued in
> pursuing historical Jesus research, but started wondering about what it was
> we thought we were doing? I suppose you can say that as a scholar, I
> experienced a 'crisis of faith' with respect to our field, only it wasn't a
> 'crisis' (more an intriguing series of unasked questions) and I really
> wasn't very 'faithful' to our discipline to begin with.
> I am only hoping that some of these questions might be of interest to you,
> Thank you so much!
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