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[John_Lit] Re: Religious Faith and Academia

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  • Mike Grondin
    Greetings Timothy, Thanks for your latest remarks. At the risk of myself violating a list protocol by sending so many messages in such a short span of time as
    Message 1 of 48 , Nov 18, 2003
      Greetings Timothy,

      Thanks for your latest remarks. At the risk of myself violating a
      list protocol by sending so many messages in such a short span of
      time as to dominate the list, I feel it necessary to respond to a
      number of statements of fact and of my position with which I
      disagree. I'll try to keep it as short as possible, then shut up
      for awhile. (I'll have to shut up from this Friday through Monday
      anyway, since I'll be attending the SBL meeting in Atlanta during
      that period. Perhaps I'll meet our esteemed moderator there.)

      > If I remember right, the original post only claimed Revelation had
      > a true prophecy [prophecy from God before the event]. You were the
      > one who claimed this automatically gave Revelation special status
      > and immunity from standard dating methods.

      My words, but to my mind a correct representation of Kym's comment:

      > Firstly, the idea that the Revelation preceded events about which
      > it speaks is not a problem if one accepts that it was God-given
      > ... `to show…what must soon take place'. That is, the Revelation
      > was a prophetic vision rather than someone's creative reflection
      > on past and/or current events.


      This was written in response to David Trapero's question:

      > How could Revelation, which refers to the martyrdoms of Peter and
      > Paul in chapter 11, be written in 62 when Peter and Paul were
      > killed sometime between 64 and 67?

      Of course, David's question presupposed that Rev 11 DOES refer to
      the deaths of Peter and Paul, and Kym rightfully challenged that
      presupposition. Nevertheless, he added the above statement to
      indicate that his dating (62 CE) would be undisturbed by ANYTHING
      described in Rev which actually occurred after that date. So ISTM
      that what I said about immunity from internal dating methods is a
      correct statement of his views. In fact, he's replied since and
      hasn't indicated otherwise.

      > I think this is over reacting. The date of composition for a work
      > does not hinge upon a single fulfilled prophecy, even a very
      > specific one. There are numerous explanations as to why such
      > things might appear in a text ...

      True, but let's settle on more neutral language here at the outset.
      Unfortunately, you've defined 'true prophecy' above as "prophecy
      from God before the event". That begs the question of whether there
      is any such thing. Can we agree to talk about, say, 'authorial
      predictions', and leave it open where they come from? Further,
      in a work presented as visionary, like Rev, we need to speak of
      _purported_ predictions, since it can't be immediately ascertained
      whether the work itself or the passage in question was written
      before or after that which it claims to predict. Now with respect
      to purported prediction contained in Rev, you say:

      > ... Kym Smith's assessment of it as a true prophecy from God is
      > only one [explanation]. Your position, that the book was written
      > after the fact, is another.

      That isn't my position. Hopefully, I haven't written anything that
      indicates that it is. (:-) In fact, I have no general position,
      since I'm not aware of any purported prediction in Rev of any
      specificity that actually came true in the way predicted.

      > Between these two extremes lie other possibilities: 1) the
      > fulfilled prophecy was incorporated into an extant work after
      > the event; 2) the author was a student of history and therefore
      > especially perspicuous; 3) the author got lucky (e.g.
      > coincidence); etc.

      With respect to a visionary work, (1) seems especially likely, and
      - if we're suitably careful - all that we can say for sure is that
      the passage in question (as opposed to the entire work) must have
      been written after the event it purportedly predicts. So I entirely
      agree with you there.

      > Even if Kym is right and the prophecy was true, it only means this
      > single bit of internal evidence lies outside normal avenues of
      > historical inquiry. The rest of the text, and all of the other
      > normal tools of analysis, are still quite relevant. This is why I
      > thought you over reacted.

      But Kym's claim applies to any purported prediction at all in Rev -
      he says so himself (above).

      > ... I dislike seeing younger scholars taken to task repeatedly. A
      > bit of encouragement, some guidance, some probing questions, even
      > some patience--these are more helpful to all concerned.

      No doubt, but Kym is not a "younger scholar". He's a published
      author (_The Amazing Structure of the Gospel of John_, Sherwood
      Publications, 1999), now nearing or in his 50's, who describes
      himself as follows:

      > With a varied background in Methodist, Charismatic and Baptist
      > Churches — as well as time in a para-church Christian community
      > (during the `Jesus Movement' era) — Kym Smith is now an ordained
      > Anglican in Adelaide, South Australia.

      (see http://homepages.picknowl.com.au/sherpub)

      (back to Timothy):
      > ... I think you will find that orthodox texts--those that have been
      > subjected to repeated official scrutiny before being accepted into
      > a corpus--have a higher percentage of true prophecy than texts in
      > general. This is because texts with prophecies that did not come
      > true are often rejected for that very reason. This is true for
      > many religions, not just Christianity and the NT or Judaism and
      > the HB. Ergo, orthodox texts sometimes require special techniques.

      I don't see how this conclusion follows from its premisses. If you
      had said that canonical texts tend to have had stuff inserted in
      them, then I would say that, yes, we should expect to find an
      inordinate number of purported predictions stuck into canonical
      texts at a later date, but as it stands the conclusion seems to be
      a non sequitur from the premisses, even if I understood what
      "special techniques" you might have in mind - which I don't.

      > ... I have often found faith perspectives from non-Christians
      > to contain intriguing ideas. I would be poorer for not having
      > listened simply because they did not share my particular faith.
      > ... This too is sharing on level ground, but is very different
      > from eliminating any mention of one's faith in the name of
      > scholarly dialogue.

      ... which no one suggests doing. What's in question isn't the mere
      mention of one's faith position, but rather (1) extended confessions
      of faith and (2) expressions of analytical presuppositions based on
      _nothing more_ than religious faith (as opposed to being based on a
      combination of that with other considerations to which others not of
      that faith might assent). Sharing of faith perspectives is all well
      and good in its place, but I presume that this is not its place.

      > Many people would disagree with you about what constitutes
      > scholarly dialogue or what violates Protocol #5. I do myself,
      > and I earned my doctorate in an American university with just
      > such a standard.

      And a fine university it is - the University of Michigan in Ann
      Arbor. Went there myself back in the 60's, and still think of it
      as my true alma mater, though I later did graduate work (in Logic
      and Philosophy, as may be apparent) at Wayne State University in
      Detroit. So we're fellow alumni. But what does that have to do with
      the definition of 'scholarly dialogue'? And what does that concept
      have to do with what's allowable on this list? After all, not just
      any "scholarly dialogue" is allowable here.

      > This is the crux of our disagreement. It has become obvious to
      > most of us that absolute objectivity is impossible.

      Count me in on that. I said so in the passage you quoted.

      > Many now feel we are more honest when we try to be objective, but
      > also inform our listeners/readers in advance of our biases. This
      > enables them to be alert for the things we might not catch
      > ourselves. Faith, Christian or otherwise, is just such a bias.

      I have no problem with this, other than what I take to be the
      implications of the phrase "Faith, Christian or otherwise". I
      don't see my own beliefs as constituting any kind of pseudo-
      religious "faith" at all. Nevertheless, the identification
      of one's belief system may be helpful in the way your suggest.

      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
    • geomelick@AOL.com
      Frank: F. C. Grant saw no problem in a combination of figurative and literal meanings in 1 Peter 5:13. In his article on Mark in the Encyclopedia Americana he
      Message 48 of 48 , Dec 4, 2003

        F. C. Grant saw no problem in a combination of figurative and literal
        meanings in 1 Peter 5:13. In his article on Mark in the Encyclopedia Americana he
        wrote: "Further, the intimate reference in 1 Peter, joining Mark's greeting
        with Peter's and those of the church in 'Babylon' (Rome?), would be more natural
        if the relationship was physical as well as spiritual." According to Swete,
        huios does not involve a spiritual relationship which in the Pauline Epistles
        is expressed by teknon.

        I have argued previously that Mark was forbidden by Jesus to accompany Peter
        during the Galilean ministry. This did not preclude him from being a disciple
        of John the Baptist. (Mathetes means learner or pupil.) J. E. Bruns wrote
        two articles about the confusion between John and John Mark. In one he quotes
        a document which claims Mark was with the servants at Cana. According to Mark
        6:31, the trip which ended in the feeding of the five thousand was supposed
        to be for a rest and there was no reason to make Mark stay home. Mark could
        have been present when his grandmother was healed, in the fishing boat, and with
        Peter when he went to Jerusalem for the Passover.

        Mark's limited contact with Jesus explains why we have just these relatively
        few stories about Jesus. There were many other things which Jesus did. Could
        John 21:24f be Mark's ending to his notes?

        George Melick, Drexel University (Retired)
        9 Attleboro Court
        Red Bank, NJ 07701
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