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[HJMatMeth] Seminar Protocols

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    Dear HJM/M Subscriber, I have been asked off list what, if any, protocols participants are expected to abide by. So before the Seminar officially begins, I d
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 10, 2000
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      Dear HJM/M Subscriber,

      I have been asked off list what, if any, protocols participants are expected to abide by. So before the Seminar officially begins, I'd like to take this opportunity to list them here.

      1. Keep your contributions relevant to the List's focus. As has been noted in the recent announcement and Seminar Rules, this  is the issue of how the particular materials used and the methods employed by Historical Jesus scholars bear upon the conclusions they come to in their reconstructions of the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.

      2.  When arguing a point, adhere to standard scholarly methodologies for doing so. Exegesis should always be grounded in the historical critical method.

      3. Contributors who are not professional scholars should note that the academic nature of HJM/M Seminar  demands that exegesis and discussion of the meaning of any ancient text that is adduced as evidence for a given argument on issues or points under discussion must always be based on that text's original language and wording and not on a, or any particular,  translation of  that text.

          Postings which attempt to make claims about the meaning or import of an
          ancient text solely on the basis of a translation of that text are not acceptable

      4. Identify yourself at the end of  each message by your full name as well as your      institutional affiliation (if any), and your homage, if applicable. You may wish to insure that your signature is an automated part of any message you send to the Seminar. This can easily be  done in through the "preferences" button in most e-mail  programs.

      5. Pseudonyms in signatures or unsigned messages are not acceptable.

      6. Be courteous to all others. You may disagree with someone, but do not be     disagreeable. Please avoid all personal criticisms. Never stoop to attacking
      someone personally, but always keep your comments objective and courteous.

      7. Never post messages with enclosures (attachments). If you have something you need to attach to your message, convert  the attachment to plain text and included it in regular e-mail

      8. If you are spring-boarding from another post or replying to a message from Professor Crossan, quote only the relevant parts of messages which form the basis of your message. Seminar participants will better understand your point if you do not quote items that are  not directly relevant to your message.

      9. Proof read your messages before sending them. Show consideration for  your readers by observing ordinary conventions of spelling, capitalization, sentence construction, paragraphing, and transliteration.

      10. Please include a subject heading that is relevant to the content of your message. Messages which are headed "question for Professor Crossan" or something similar are unhelpful. And If you are responding to a topic that was a minor aspect of a  previous message, please change the subject heading to reflect what you are now addressing.

      11. Non-academic contributions of any kind are not appropriate on the HJM/M Seminar. Thus, posts which intend to advance or discuss personal religious experiences or modern sectarian or political agendas are completely  inappropriate--as are personal messages and commercial  advertisements--and will not be permitted.

      Remember: All questions should be sent to the following address:


      To contact the HJM/M Seminar moderators, write to us either through our personal e-mail addresses:



      or through



      Jeffrey Gibson

      Jeffrey B. Gibson
      7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
      Chicago, Illinois 60626
      e-mail jgibson000@...

    • David C. Hindley
      Professor Crossan, Along with many others, I want to thank you for making yourself available in an electronic format such as this! As a (fairly) well informed
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 13, 2000
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        Professor Crossan,

        Along with many others, I want to thank you for making yourself available
        in an electronic format such as this! As a (fairly) well informed
        non-academic, I consider it quite a privilege to have the opportunity to
        interact with a scholar of your reputation.

        Instead of asking a question, though, I would be pleased if you would
        allow me to offer some observations about your use of cross-cultural
        anthropology. I am sure I will learn something valuable from the manner
        that you review and respond to them.

        First, let me say that I reviewed two of the books from which you drew
        epigraphs. I particularly enjoyed Gerhard E. Lenski (_Power and
        Privilege_, 1984 [1966]) who does a wonderful job of describing the
        evolution of societies and their class structures, and John H. Kautsky
        (_The Politics of Aristocratic Empires_, 1982) who provides a good
        political analysis of agrarian societies he calls "traditional
        aristocratic empires" and the effects of their commercialization into
        modern states. These are both "keepers" and will definitely be added to my

        However, in reading these books, it became evident to me that you have
        been selectively reading them and adding your own interpretations into
        your descriptions of their positions. I will only comment on parts of your
        chapter 11, on Cross-Cultural Anthropology, in order to avoid too lengthy
        of a post.

        You adopt what you call the "Lenski-Kautsky model" of class, but define
        social class according to G. E. M. de Ste. Croix ("Karl Marx and the
        History of Classical Antiquity", Arethusha 8, 1975). I don't start to
        notice dissonance until we reach pg 153 (Marked Social Inequality). There
        you quote Lenski to establish your three distinctive features causing the
        increase of social inequality when an agrarian society replaces an
        advanced horticultural society (without specifically stating this, by the

        Your quote that illustrates the mushrooming process of urbanization in
        newly agrarian societies does not mention that Lenski elsewhere on the
        same page of his book (199) indicated that these "fairly large" cities
        were more often than not national capitals, with perhaps five hundred
        thousand permanent residents at the very most, with the vast majority of
        towns being much more modest in size.

        In support of the feature of monetization, Lenski is quoted to the effect
        that the introduction of money in agrarian societies offered aristocrats
        the opportunity to use it to indebt and consequence exploit the peasants.
        However, Lenski also says (again on the same page, 207) that "in the rural
        areas especially, the use of money was an infrequent experience,
        especially for peasants." In other words, while money lending could be
        "highly rewarding", it appears also to have been the exception rather than
        the rule.

        You also quote Lenski (pg 155) to the effect that "[t]he Peasant Class,
        that vast majority of the population, was held "at, or close to, the
        subsistence level" (271)", ignoring the fact that all his examples are
        drawn from medieval Europe, China and Japan, and then add your comment "so
        that their appropriated surplus could support elite conspicuous
        consumption", which, while based on a passage elsewhere in Lenski's book,
        seems inserted here to make a social-political point of your own.

        Later, at pg 157 (Agrarian Commercialization), you begin to quote Kautsky
        to the effect that ""ancient Athens and Rome ... are commercialized"
        agrarian empires. (25 note 31)." However, if we read a tad more of note 31
        this turns out to be an incorrect statement: "To be sure, the term
        "traditional" has also been applied to empires existing up to the
        emergence of modern states, like the Chinese, Russian, and Ottoman empires
        into the nineteenth century ... not to mention ancient Athens and Rome --
        all of which are commercialized and hence *modern* <emphasis mine>." This
        suggests to me that you are letting yourself mix and match the technical
        terms to your liking.

        Then on pg 158 you emphasize that Kautsky represents aristocrats as living
        off peasants surplus in a one sided manner with no reciprocity involved
        for the Peasants. However, G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, who you earlier cited
        approvingly for a definition of "class", published _The Class Struggle in
        the Ancient Greek World_ in 1981, a year before Kautsky. De Ste. Croix,
        who does a brilliant job of relating classes to socio-economic factors,
        takes a far more lenient view of the exploitative relationship between
        aristocrats and peasants than does Kautsky, yet you do not cite it in your
        bibliography. I have to presume that you knew of this publication but
        chose not to deal with it in your book. Why is de Ste. Croix so reliable
        when he defines "class" but not so reliable when he defines economic
        relationships between classes?

        Later in page 158 you discuss (localized) peasant revolts as
        characteristic of commercialization of agrarian empires (relying on
        Kautsky, although you represent it as inherent in your Lenski-Kautsky
        model) However, Lenski speaks only of "inconsistent status" individuals as
        leaders of revolutions, and only on pp 88 & 409. This also ignores de Ste.
        Croix who indicated that crushing levels of economic exploitation did not
        characterize the Roman empire until the 4th century CE. Then (pg 166) you
        ask a rhetorical question: "What if priests, prophets, scribes,
        bureaucrats, or retainers, acting institutionally or charismatically,
        instigate an *idealogical* revolution?" Presumably this is in replacement
        of political revolution.

        And so it appears to me that you have made use of statements, taken out of
        context at times, from Lenski and Kautsky, have then given them your own
        spin to emphasize the element of social dissatisfaction. Is all this
        *really* necessary in order to support text-critical positions that
        represent Jesus as vocalizing social critical aphorisms and philosophy?

        My apologies if I too seem to have over-stated my case. This was not meant
        as any sort of personal criticism of you, for whom I have the utmost
        respect. My point is that if so many liberties appear to have been taken
        in forming your model, the question must be asked whether the
        presuppositions you have adopted justify your methodological focus, as you
        say in Ch 7 of BOC.


        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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