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Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: the Synoptic Problem

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  • Stephen C. Carlson
    ... Without knowing Farmer (I ve never met him, but I once sat within six feet of him as SBL), I really do not feel confident to psychanalyze the man. (Why
    Message 1 of 21 , Nov 1, 1999
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      At 11:21 AM 11/1/99 -0600, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
      >It might not seem to have much to do with "the truth of falsity" of the
      >Griesbach hypothesis, and it might seem to be merely an issue of civility
      >in scholarly discourse, but in fact it has everything to do with
      >argumentation and Farmer's attempt to persuade his reader by means of
      >inflammatory rhetoric.
      ...
      >It makes one wonder if perhaps Farmer's vigorous opposition to the
      >Two-Source Hypothesis has something to do with his dislike of the direction
      >of Q research and his desire for a more traditional interpretation of the
      >historical Jesus?

      Without knowing Farmer (I've never met him, but I once sat within six
      feet of him as SBL), I really do not feel confident to psychanalyze
      the man. (Why can't Farmer's vigorous opposition be due to a sincere
      belief?) At any rate, I am much more concerned about the ideas he
      discusses rather than his motivations for doing so. Typically, when
      the latter is done, it is but a crude attempt to avoid the real issue.

      I know it sounds like I'm giving you a "tu quoque" defense, but there
      really are enough substantive ideas that can and should be cricitized
      without getting into what Farmer's hidden agenda may have been, as
      apparently adduced from a book published 30 years later.

      Stephen Carlson
      --
      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
    • Steven Craig Miller
      To: Leonard Maluf, SCM:
      Message 2 of 21 , Nov 1, 1999
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        To: Leonard Maluf,

        SCM: << Farmer asserts that Sanday was unable to see the "manifest truth"
        of the Synoptic Problem because his cognitive faculties were impaired by
        "the temper of the times." >>

        LM: << I hesitate to comment on your continued character assassination of
        Professor Farmer, because I am not nearly as familiar with his writings as
        you appear to be, but the above comment on the cited passage strikes me as,
        at face value, grossly unfair. I find it difficult to believe that anyone
        would in principle be unaware that "the temper of the times" often
        influences the direction and shape of the scholarly enterprise, and quite
        often at the expense of truth. >>

        First of all, I have no desire to assassinate anyone character, let alone
        someone like Professor Farmer. If I have said anything "grossly unfair" I
        am more than willing to apologize for any such misstatements. I assume that
        Professor Farmer is a very honorable and intelligent man, who is a credit
        to his profession. But I don't presume that Farmer's published works are
        above serious criticism.

        Second, I would suggest that you should first read Farmer and become
        familiar with what he has written before passing judgment on what others
        write about him. Was my statement really "grossly unfair"? Farmer wrote:

        << he [Sanday] drank deeply from the cup of salvation offered by the cult
        of "scientism" ... Sanday's intellectual apparatus was impregnated with
        non-Biblical, non-traditional, nontheological and nonliterary thought
        categories taken over from the quasi-scientific jargon of the late
        nineteenth century. ... these quasi-scientific ideas of the late nineteenth
        century were not only on the lips of Sanday but determinative of his
        critical judgment >> (181).

        Farmer clearly writes that "these quasi-scientific ideas" were
        "determinative of his critical judgment," I don't see how that is all that
        much different from my statement << Farmer asserts that Sanday was unable
        to see the "manifest truth" of the Synoptic Problem because his cognitive
        faculties were impaired by "the temper of the times." >>

        If you can show me the significant difference between my statement and what
        Farmer himself has written, I will publicly apologize, such was not my
        intent. I would like to think that I'm the type of person willing to take
        correction if I've made some mistake. But frankly, I don't see much
        difference between the two statements. Perhaps I am guilty for not picking
        out the right quotation to cite, but I don't believe that I'm guilty of
        exaggerating or sensationalizing what Professor Farmer has written.

        Your assertion that I'm attempting to assassinate Professor Farmer's
        character seems to me to be grossly unfair and blatantly untrue. I
        personally feel that you owe me an apology, but I have had enough
        experience in such debates to know that they are rarely forth coming. But I
        promise you this, if I have said anything "grossly unfair," I am more than
        willing to apologize for any such misstatements and thank you too for
        pointing it out to me! Seriously! (It wouldn't be the first time I've made
        a mistake, just ask my wife! <g>)

        But I wonder if there is some other problem at work here, for your
        paraphrase of Farmer's statement wasn't much different from my own. You
        write: << I find it difficult to believe that anyone would in principle be
        unaware that "the temper of the times" often influences the direction and
        shape of the scholarly enterprise, and quite often at the expense of
        truth. >> How is that so very different from what I wrote? I stated: <<
        Farmer asserts that ... his [Sanday's] cognitive faculties were impaired by
        "the temper of the times." >> What is the difference? What is the big deal
        here?

        -Steven Craig Miller
        Alton, Illinois (USA)
        scmiller@...

        "Refutations have often been regarded as establishing the failure of a
        scientist, or at least his theory. It should be stressed that this is an
        inductivist error. Every refutation should be regarded as a great success;
        not merely a success of the scientist who refuted the theory, but also of
        the scientist who created the refuted theory and who thus in the first
        instance suggested, if only indirectly, the refuting experiment" (Karl R.
        Popper, "Conjectures and Refutations," 243).
      • Steven Craig Miller
        To: Stephen C. Carlson, I would presume that it is due to sincere belief. What have I
        Message 3 of 21 , Nov 1, 1999
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          To: Stephen C. Carlson,

          << Why can't Farmer's vigorous opposition be due to a sincere belief? >>

          I would presume that it is due to sincere belief. What have I written which
          would suggest otherwise?

          << At any rate, I am much more concerned about the ideas he discusses
          rather than his motivations for doing so. >>

          I must confess some interest in both. After all, if the Synoptic Problem is
          (as Fitzmyer claims) "practically insoluble," and so it is impossible to
          prove any one solution to the Synoptic Problem is correct, why do some
          scholars hold one position, while other hold another? I would assume that
          William Farmer, Michael Goulder, and Joseph Fitzmyer (just to pick three
          names out of the air) are all very intelligent men familiar with the
          complex issues surrounding the Synoptic Problem, and yet each of them has
          come to a different conclusion. Why?

          << ... there really are enough substantive ideas that can and should be
          criticized without getting into what Farmer's hidden agenda may have been,
          as apparently adduced from a book published 30 years later. >>

          Just for the record, the one time which I speculated about Farmer's
          possible "hidden agenda" was when I quoted a statement he made from his
          latest book published in 1994. In addition, many of the criticisms I made
          of his 1976 book can be corroborated by his 1994 book. Furthermore, as
          someone who has spent his whole life studying texts written thousands of
          years ago, a text written 30 years ago simply is not ancient history. In
          fact, I would suggest that Farmer's 1976 work, "The Synoptic Problem: A
          Critical Analysis," is a major work in the history of Synoptic Problem
          research, and thus deserves serious attention by anyone interested in
          knowing its history.

          -Steven Craig Miller
          Alton, Illinois (USA)
          scmiller@...

          "Refutations have often been regarded as establishing the failure of a
          scientist, or at least his theory. It should be stressed that this is an
          inductivist error. Every refutation should be regarded as a great success;
          not merely a success of the scientist who refuted the theory, but also of
          the scientist who created the refuted theory and who thus in the first
          instance suggested, if only indirectly, the refuting experiment" (Karl R.
          Popper, "Conjectures and Refutations," 243).
        • Mahlon H. Smith
          ... Good hunch. At least that s how H.C. Kee, Farmer s onetime colleague & my teacher at Drew, explained it to us. Recently I heard R.W. Funk say much the same
          Message 4 of 21 , Nov 1, 1999
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            Steven Craig Miller wrote:

            >
            > It makes one wonder if perhaps Farmer's vigorous opposition to the
            > Two-Source Hypothesis has something to do with his dislike of the direction
            > of Q research and his desire for a more traditional interpretation of the
            > historical Jesus?
            >

            Good hunch. At least that's how H.C. Kee, Farmer's onetime colleague &
            my teacher at Drew, explained it to us. Recently I heard R.W. Funk say
            much the same thing.

            Shalom!

            Mahlon
            --

            *********************

            Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
            Associate Professor
            Department of Religion
            Rutgers University
            New Brunswick NJ

            Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
            http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
          • Maluflen@aol.com
            In a message dated 11/1/1999 11:56:53 PM Eastern Standard Time, scmiller@www.plantnet.com writes:
            Message 5 of 21 , Nov 2, 1999
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              In a message dated 11/1/1999 11:56:53 PM Eastern Standard Time,
              scmiller@... writes:

              << Your assertion that I'm attempting to assassinate Professor Farmer's
              character seems to me to be grossly unfair and blatantly untrue. I
              personally feel that you owe me an apology, but I have had enough
              experience in such debates to know that they are rarely forth coming. But I
              promise you this, if I have said anything "grossly unfair," I am more than
              willing to apologize for any such misstatements and thank you too for
              pointing it out to me! Seriously! (It wouldn't be the first time I've made
              a mistake, just ask my wife! <g>)>>

              Your ongoing psychological analysis of Farmer strikes me as a kind of
              character assassination. I apologize if it is not intended as such. I think,
              however, that it would be far more productive, and more appropriate for this
              format, if you would instead attempt to deal with some of the evidence Farmer
              adduces in support of his positions. I realize that this would be a
              considerably more challenging undertaking.

              << But I wonder if there is some other problem at work here, for your
              paraphrase of Farmer's statement wasn't much different from my own. You
              write: << I find it difficult to believe that anyone would in principle be
              unaware that "the temper of the times" often influences the direction and
              shape of the scholarly enterprise, and quite often at the expense of
              truth. >> How is that so very different from what I wrote? I stated: <<
              Farmer asserts that ... his [Sanday's] cognitive faculties were impaired by
              "the temper of the times." >> What is the difference? What is the big deal
              here? >>

              The difference lies in the fact that I am wholeheartedly agreeing with the
              substance of Farmer's remark, and wondering, to boot, whether anyone is
              really so naive as to question its validity. My interpretation of your
              comment was that it represented something less than enthusiastic endorsement
              of Farmer's statement. I marvelled at this.

              Leonard Maluf
            • Steven Craig Miller
              To: Mahlon H. Smith, SCM:
              Message 6 of 21 , Nov 2, 1999
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                To: Mahlon H. Smith,

                SCM: << It makes one wonder if perhaps Farmer's vigorous opposition to the
                Two-Source Hypothesis has something to do with his dislike of the direction
                of Q research and his desire for a more traditional interpretation of the
                historical Jesus? >>

                MHS: << Good hunch. At least that's how H.C. Kee, Farmer's onetime
                colleague & my teacher at Drew, explained it to us. Recently I heard R.W.
                Funk say much the same thing. >>

                I would draw two conclusions from this. First, issues surrounding the
                Synoptic Problem are often interrelated with other issues of New Testament
                research. Second, the interrelationship is this: one is more willing to
                accept arguments for a hypothesis which is compatible with other hypotheses
                one holds than one is for a hypothesis incompatible with other hypotheses
                one holds. In other words, it seems only natural that scholars would hold
                seemingly incompatible hypotheses to a higher standard of evidence than
                seemingly compatible hypotheses.

                I would like to highlight two major disagreements I have with Farmer. (a)
                Farmer spent a lot of space in his 1976 & 1994 books suggesting that
                non-scholarly reasons were in part responsible for certain people holding
                certain hypotheses to be true. Whereas I feel that it would be more
                appropriate to focus on related scholarly issues as to why people hold
                certain (scholarly) hypotheses to be true. (b) Farmer seems to insist (at
                least as I read him) that the Griesbach hypothesis is manifestly true and
                that the Two-Source hypothesis is no more than an "academic delusion."
                Whereas I would agree with Fitzmyer that the Synoptic Problem is
                "practically insoluble," and that the best one can do is argue that one
                hypothesis seems to be "more probable" than the others.

                -Steven Craig Miller
                Alton, Illinois (USA)
                scmiller@...

                "Refutations have often been regarded as establishing the failure of a
                scientist, or at least his theory. It should be stressed that this is an
                inductivist error. Every refutation should be regarded as a great success;
                not merely a success of the scientist who refuted the theory, but also of
                the scientist who created the refuted theory and who thus in the first
                instance suggested, if only indirectly, the refuting experiment" (Karl R.
                Popper, "Conjectures and Refutations," 243).
              • Stephen C. Carlson
                ... Agreed; however, please note that the 1976 edition is a revised printing of the 1964 original. You can best see this on page 228 where Farmer explained
                Message 7 of 21 , Nov 2, 1999
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                  At 11:44 PM 11/1/99 -0600, Steven Craig Miller wrote:
                  >I would suggest that Farmer's 1976 work, "The Synoptic Problem: A
                  >Critical Analysis," is a major work in the history of Synoptic Problem
                  >research, and thus deserves serious attention by anyone interested in
                  >knowing its history.

                  Agreed; however, please note that the 1976 edition is a revised
                  printing of the 1964 original. You can best see this on page
                  228 where Farmer explained that he has withdrawn the canon of
                  specificity referred to in his first book in reaction to the
                  publication of E. P. Sanders, THE TENDENCIES OF THE SYNOPTIC
                  TRADITION (Cambridge: 1969).

                  By the way, if you are interested in an autobiographical account
                  of at least part of Farmer's personal journey through the
                  synoptic problem, one place to look is:

                  W. R. Farmer, "Certain Results Reached by Sir John C. Hawkins
                  and C. F. Burney Which Make More Sense If Luke Knew Matthew,
                  and Mark Knew Matthew and Luke," in C. M. Tuckett, ed.,
                  SYNOPTIC STUDIES: The Ampleforth Conferences of 1982 and 1983
                  (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series
                  7; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984) 85-91.

                  Stephen Carlson
                  --
                  Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                  Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                  "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
                • Steven Craig Miller
                  To: Leonard Maluf,
                  Message 8 of 21 , Nov 2, 1999
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                    To: Leonard Maluf,

                    << The difference lies in the fact that I am wholeheartedly agreeing with
                    the substance of Farmer's remark, and wondering, to boot, whether anyone is
                    really so naive as to question its validity. My interpretation of your
                    comment was that it represented something less than enthusiastic
                    endorsement of Farmer's statement. I marvelled at this. >>

                    FWIW my first message, where I put forth the notion that Professor Farmer
                    had fallen into the "trap" of believing that truth is manifest, was written
                    in part because I sensed from what you had written that you too have fallen
                    into the same "trap." And just as I believe that Farmer's belief that the
                    "truth" of the Synoptic Problem is manifest has led him into inflammatory
                    rhetoric and ad hominem attacks, so your messages have seemed to me to have
                    led you down the same road. I don't know if it is possible for me to say
                    what I've just said without appearing to be making my own ad hominem
                    attacks against you, perhaps not, but it is certainly not my intent. What
                    little I know of you is what I've learned participating on this list. You
                    are obviously a very intelligent and knowledgeable person. But
                    unfortunately on more than one occasion you have directed ad hominem
                    remarks in my direction. Perhaps I notice them only because they have been
                    directed at me. I have tried my best to simply ignore most of them. FWIW I
                    also "picked" on Farmer, and not you directly, out of respect for you,
                    since you are present (so to speak). But I mean no disrespect to either of
                    you. I assume that you are both honorable and intelligent persons, people
                    (like most of us) who hold their beliefs deeply and sincerely. (I assume
                    you won't be offended by being compared with Professor Farmer.)

                    I would like to add that I greatly appreciate being able to participate on
                    this list. I am cognizant that I'm merely a househusband (with no post-grad
                    degrees) and not a scholar. And thus, I consider my participation here an
                    honor. It is certainly not my desire to offend you, or anyone else on this
                    list by my participation. I hope I haven't done so, if I have, I deeply
                    regret it and am truly sorry.

                    -Steven Craig Miller
                    Alton, Illinois (USA)
                    scmiller@...

                    "Refutations have often been regarded as establishing the failure of a
                    scientist, or at least his theory. It should be stressed that this is an
                    inductivist error. Every refutation should be regarded as a great success;
                    not merely a success of the scientist who refuted the theory, but also of
                    the scientist who created the refuted theory and who thus in the first
                    instance suggested, if only indirectly, the refuting experiment" (Karl R.
                    Popper, "Conjectures and Refutations," 243).
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