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[Synoptic-L] Re: the Synoptic Problem

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  • Steven Craig Miller
    To: Stephen C. Carlson, I would presume that it is due to sincere belief. What have I
    Message 1 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).
    • Maluflen@aol.com
      In a message dated 11/1/1999 11:56:53 PM Eastern Standard Time, scmiller@www.plantnet.com writes:
      Message 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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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