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[HJMatMeth] Methodological prerequisites

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  • Robert M Schacht
    Professor Crossan, First, thank you very much for agreeing to participate in this Seminar. I am looking forward to the dialogue on historical methods
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2000
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      Professor Crossan,
      First, thank you very much for agreeing to participate in this Seminar. I
      am looking forward to the dialogue on historical methods concerning the
      reconstruction of the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth that will
      result.

      My question has to do with methodological prerequisites. As you make
      clear in The Birth of Christianity, you think that it is imperative that
      our methods be based on the four Criticisms (source-, redaction-, form-,
      & tradition-)(p.96f). However, Tom Wright has criticised this approach,
      saying that it has lead only to divergent interpretations, and no
      consensus.
      Each of the criticisms has its own problems. For example, there are
      competing source-critical models, each with its own problems and
      advantages. Instead, he wants to try a different approach.

      Do you think that by committing ourselves to the particular scholarly
      paradigm you have advocated that we run a risk similar to the
      pre-Copernican astronomers who insisted that in order to navigate, one
      must first understand the system of epicycles, and then build on that? (I
      am of course referring to Thomas Kuhn's theory of paradigm shifts.)
      I am not trying to be tendentious here; obviously the problem with the
      system of epicycles is that one of the fundamental assumptions (that the
      universe revolved around the earth) was wrong. I am not suggesting that
      the Four Criticisms are as flagrantly defective in their assumptions. But
      yet, some of their assumptions could be defective in less dramatic ways.
      I am not suggesting that we should abandon the Four Criticisms, but only
      that perhaps they should not all be regarded as mandatory methodological
      prerequisites?

      Best regards,
      Bob

      Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
      Northern Arizona University
      Flagstaff, AZ
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