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[Synoptic-L] Re: Hypothetical Source

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... Thanks for the correction/clarification, Brian. I am well aware of the primary features of your theory & should have been careful not to have distorted it
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 25, 2001
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      I wrote:

      > >All of this leads me to conclude that despite your
      protestations to the
      > >contrary, your Aramaic Logia "document" that
      "each synoptist
      > >independently used" remains very much a hypothetical
      source.

      Brian Wilson replied:

      >
      Mahlon,
      >         My hypothesis
      does not posit that any synoptist used any Aramaic
      >
      document.
      >
      > In particular, my hypothesis is to be sharply
      distinguished from
      > Lessing's Hypothesis which posited that each
      synoptist independently
      > used an Aramaic Ur-gospel in various
      recensions.
      >
      > On my view, the Greek Logia were written in Greek,
      not Aramaic, and were
      > a set of notes for teaching Jesus tradition to
      Greek-speaking
      > Christians, not an Ur-gospel. Each synoptist
      independently used the
      > Greek Logia, a set of teaching notes (each of
      which was a self-contained
      > pericope of teaching material) written in
      Greek, not an Ur-gospel
      > written in Aramaic.

      Thanks for the correction/clarification, Brian. I am well aware of the
      primary features of your theory & should have been careful not to have
      distorted it by snipping phrases from your reply of 11/23/01 to Jacob Knee.

      My comments were prompted, however, by what I regard as indefensible claims,
      not in the Greek notes hypothesis, but in what you in fact wrote in that
      post. You claimed:

      1. that "*each* synoptist used the *same* Greek documentary source ("the
      Greek Logia") which was a translation of an Aramaic document ("the Aramaic
      Logia")" &

      2. that "the Aramaic Logia was the Logia *document* referred to in the
      tradition of the Elder preserved by Papias" &

      3. that "and the Greek Logia was *one* of the translations referred to in
      the same tradition" & concluded

      4. that "These sources are therefore *documents attested by the Papias
      tradition*, and *not hypothetical sources*".

      Forgive me for taking the liberty of dividing & introducing asterisks into
      your text to highlight the words that caught my attention & prompted my
      response.

      It was the last statement (4) in particular that I called into question. My
      concern was primarily about your denial that your Aramaic (& Greek) logia
      collections were "hypothetical sources" & secondly about your citation of
      "the Papias tradition" to support this contention. As an intellectual
      historian who has spent much time studying the development of the patristic
      tradition I could not let such an assertion pass unchallenged.

      Since in fact there is no explicit reference to any *document* in Papias'
      statement about Matthew's compilation of logia quoted by Eusebius, it is not
      quite accurate to claim that your hypothesized Aramaic & Greek notes are
      "documents attested" by Papias. That is an inference read into Papias'
      actual statement since (a) Papias credited the compilation to Matthew & (b)
      later interpreters from Irenaeus on have generally taken this a reference to
      our gospel of Matt or one of its sources. The same goes for your "Aramaic"
      Logia since Papias in fact wrote "in a Hebraic dialect" (there are after all
      still scholars like George Howard who take this very literally).

      Since you are distinguishing your hypothesis from those of patristic writers
      from Irenaeus to Jerome (who simply equated Papias' statement with canonical
      Matt), Lessing's Ur-gospel, Schleiermacher's sayings source, etc., you need
      to be absolutely clear about what is & what is not in Papias' testimony if
      you intend to call him as a witness to support your conclusions. Otherwise,
      anyone who is familiar with Papias' testimony could challenge you for
      distorting the evidence.

      The truth is that Papias' statement regarding Matthew's logia collection is
      so vague that it could be & has been interpreted in a wide variety of ways.
      It gave rise to the Orthodox patristic tradition of the priority of
      canonical Matt & played a key role in the history of the modern hypothesis
      of Q and later in George Howard's reconstruction of Hebrew Matt -- all long
      before it influenced the formulation of your synoptic theory.  So it is not
      at all obvious that your conception of an "Aramaic Logia" source is *the*
      "document attested by the Papias tradition."

      This is your hypothesis. And that makes your Aramaic Logia & Greek Notes
      every bit as much "hypothetical sources" as Q or HebMatt, since all three
      have to be retroactively reconstructed from our canonical Greek gospels. I
      am glad to see that you now concede (to Jacob Knee if not to me) "that on
      the usual understanding of the word "hypothetical" the Aramaic Logia and the
      Greek Logia are hypothetical documents."

      The second point I challenged you on was your first statment above: that
      "*each* synoptist used the *same* Greek documentary source ("the Greek
      Logia") which was a translation of an Aramaic document ("the Aramaic
      Logia")."

      Since you claim this Greek Logia source is another "document attested by the
      Papias tradition", I simply pointed out that Papias did not himself claim
      that "each synoptist" used such a source & even expressly exempted Mark from
      use of Matt's logia collection by identifying him as Peter's secretary who
      recorded Peter's preaching.  In fact Papias represents Mark as Peter's
      "interpreter" (hERMHNEUTHS) -- the same root he uses for those anonymous
      "each" who "interpreted/translated" (hERMHNEUSIN) Matt's Hebraic logia
      collection. And he goes on to insist that Mark did not "falsify or omit"
      anything he had heard second hand from Peter. It was this reading of Papias'
      testimony that led early Q proponents to discover within our synoptic
      gospels a sayings source used by Matt & Luke but not Mark.  So again it is
      not accurate to represent your hypothesized Greek Logia as "attested by the
      Papias tradition." Rather it is your original variation on a theme suggested
      by a statement credited to Papias but which is quite different in some key
      details from anything that Papias himself wrote-- not the least of which is
      your suggestion that the source of Mark's gospel is the "same" *Greek* notes
      used by Matt & Luke rather than his aural recollection of Peter's preaching
      in a presumably Semitic tongue.

      In today's post you write to Jacob Knee: "What I continue to affirm is that
      the Aramaic Logia and Greek Logia are *attested* by the tradition of the
      Elder preserved by Papias preserved by Eusebius." If I may presume to edit
      your prose, I think "suggested" would be the correct term here rather than
      "attested," since the Aramaic & Greek Logia are integral parts of your
      theory rather than explicit statements in Papias' testimony.  While you have
      accepted elements of patristic testimony about the tradition history behind
      the gospels, neither Papias nor any patristic tradition can be invoked as
      witnesses to corroborate your interpretation. And since a literal reading of
      Papias' testimony is subject to other interpretations than yours, he makes
      an unreliable witness on which to base your case -- quite apart from any
      question of the actual historical reliability of his hearsay reports.

      Shalom!

      Mahlon

      Mahlon H. Smith
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ 08901
       
       
       
      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
    • Mahlon H. Smith
      ... I would think that the first step in forming any scientific hypothesis is to examine the data closely before leaping. Otherwise any idea formed may be
      Message 2 of 7 , Nov 27, 2001
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        Brian Wilson wrote:

        > My approach is first to posit a hypothesis. This
        requires
        > a  leap of imagination to create an idea, the hypothesis,
        that goes
        > beyond the data. The hypothesis is not the result of arguing
        from the
        > data. It is a question to be answered by examining the
        data.

        I would think that the first step in forming any scientific hypothesis is to examine
        the data closely before leaping. Otherwise any idea formed may be supported
        by nothing but thin air & an active imagination.

        > The
        > question is whether the Logia Translation
        Hypothesis fits the observed
        > phenomena which include the tradition of
        the Elder preserved by Papias
        > concerning Matthew's Logia.

        Agreed, with one minor correction. We have no way of knowing for certain
        whether Papias credited his statement concerning Matthew's Logia to "the
        Elder" (John?) since Eusebius makes no such claim & we don't have a copy of
        Papias' Logia to check whether he did. Thanks to Stephen Carlson we have all
        patristic references to Papias in Greek & English on line. URL

        http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/ext/papias.htm

        Note that (a) Papias explicitly identifies the presbyter as source of the
        tradition that Mark was Peter's hERMHNEUTHS (Eccl. Hist. 3.39.15), but (b)
        no specific source is named in his remark about Matt's logia collection
        (Eccl. Hist. 3.39.16b). Rather Eusebius introduces this statement with a
        vague generalized passive construction TAUT' EIRHTAI ("these things were
        told") -- told by whom other than Papias one can only guess. While it is not
        impossible that Papias was here quoting the same anonymous presbyter to whom
        he credits the Markan tradition, this is not at all certain, since by his
        own admission Papias was an eager collector of oral lore from anyone who
        claimed to have heard "the words of the presbyters (plural)" (Eccl. Hist.
        3.39.4). It is even possible that Papias did not trace his statement about
        Matt's Logia to any earlier tradant, since the grammatical construction that
        introduces it --  TAUT' EIRHTAI ("these things were told") -- comes from
        Eusebius rather than Papias himself. Anyone can speculate about where Papias
        got this particular piece of information about Matt's Logia from. But the
        fact is, the data Eusebius provides does not permit one possible
        reconstruction to claim any more certainty than other possibilities.
        Therefore, I question you conclusion:

        > If it fits
        the data well, then it is to be accepted.

        If you'd substitute "entertained" for "accepted" I can agree. Whether a
        given hypothesis "fits the data well" all depends upon one's presuppositions
        & one's analysis of the "the data."  One can make any hypothesis fit "the
        data" depending on what data one is prepared to admit. In the scientific
        community to discard data that does not fit one's hypothesis is generally
        regarded as dishonest research.

        In any case, no hypothesis can command acceptance as long as the possibility
        remains that another hypothesis can be formulated that fits that body of
        data better. In any scientific research, every researcher is free to use
        his/her own judgment about what range of data is relevant & which hypothesis
        explains that data better than others. One hypothesis may be deemed
        preferable to other available alternatives. But no hypothesis is so adequate
        that it is not subject to challenge, correction & refinement on the basis of
        closer analysis of the data it pretends to explain. For it is only by
        testing the hypothesis against all the data that one can tell how well it
        fits. That's what collegial scientific debate & cumulative progress in
        knowledge is all about.

        > In my view, therefore, I do
        not need to be absolutely clear
        > about what is and what is not in the
        testimony of the Elder preserved by
        > Papias. Rather, I need to ask
        whether the LTH fits well the tradition of
        > the Elder concerning
        Matthew's Logia.
        >

        Quite apart from reservations about whether anyone can speak with certainty
        about "the Elder" (whoever he may have been) having any
        "tradition...concerning Matthew's Logia" I find this affirmation totally
        perplexing. Are you suggesting that you have some way of knowing a
        "tradition...concerning Matthew's Logia" apart from what Eusebius reports
        Papias to have said? And are you claiming that you can construct a
        hypothesis that "fits this data well" without being absolutely clear about
        what Papias in fact did or did not say?  Maybe I'm missing something here.
        But IMHO you have just undermined any claim that your hypothesis is adequate
        to explain a range of data that includes Papias' testimony.

        You wrote:

        > The tradition of
        > the Elder
        *preserved by Papias* concerning Matthew's Logia attests the
        > existence
        of a source literally "in a Hebrew dialect" and also attests
        > the
        existence of various translations of this source. The tradition does
        > not
        merely suggest the existence of these sources. It states that they
        >
        existed.

        If you would read Papias's statement (Eccl. Hist. 3.39.16b) carefully again,
        he does not say anything about "the existence of a source" of "the existence
        of various translations of this source."  Rather he says that Matt "compiled
        (SUNETAXATO) the logia." Whether that compilation was written or oral is not
        stated. We modern scholars with all our book learning are prone to find
        evidence of literary sources everywhere. But Papias avowedly trusted the
        "living lasting voice" more than "whatever comes from books."  So how can
        one be certain that he thought that Matt's logia collection in a Hebrew
        dialect was a written text? Where does Papias or any Xn father (except
        Jerome) ever claim to have seen such a text? So where is there evidence of
        "the existence" of such a "source" other than the oral preaching of Matt? As
        for Papias' statement about others interpreting/translating Matt's
        compilation, can you show me where he says any of this was written down? In
        the previous pericope about Mark Papias uses the word hERMHNEUTHS to refer
        to Mark's role as an *oral* translator of Peter's *oral* preaching. And he
        distinguishes this activity from Mark's subsequent "writing" of his own
        aural recollections of what Peter had previously said. In the case of Matt,
        however, Papias never claims that either Matt or any of his hERMHNEUTAI
        "wrote" anything down themselves. Irenaeus is our earliest extant tradant to
        claim that Matt himself produced a "writing" (GRAFHN) [Adv.Haer. 3.1.1 in
        Euseb EcclesHist 5.8.2 -- see Carlson URL

         
        http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/ext/irenaeus.htm

        But this only testifies to the development & interpretation of Papias'
        tradition by the next generation whose struggle with gnosticism inclined
        them to distrust traditions that were not in fixed canonical texts. Just
        because Irenaeus & subsequent Orthodox fathers interpreted the Papias
        tradition to mean that Matt produced a "gospel writing" does not prove that
        Papias or his unidentified source ever claimed that. It is the nature of the
        development of any tradition that later tradants tend to read in
        implications that cannot be demonstrated to have been there in the earlier
        evidence. For example you admit:

        >
        I
        > have taken the tradition of the Elder concerning Matthew's Logia to
        be
        > data, not the odd ideas of Papias himself.

        Obviously. But what if I asked you to produce this data or evidence that it
        came from "the Elder" apart from ideas conveyed by Papias, odd or not?

        You protest:

        >
        I am not basing my case on any witness. I am not building up an idea by
        >
        arguing from the data. As I have said above, I am putting forward a
        >
        hypothesis, a question, and testing whether this hypothesis fits well
        >
        the data observed, including the data provided by the tradition of the
        >
        Elder concerning Matthew's Logia.

        Okay. But can you tell me, aside from any question of how you know "the data
        provided by the tradition of the Elder concerning Matthew's Logia" without
        the witness provided by Papias, how you can test how well this hypothesis
        "fits the data...observed" when you are not prepared to take into account my
        observations about that data. Testing hypotheses is a collegial exercise in
        which the one who has the idea usually tests its ability to hold up under
        scrutiny by inviting critical examination of both theory & data from others.
        In your case, I have simply been trying to help you correct & refine your
        hypothesis by pointing out where IMHO your presentation of it does not fit
        the data regarding the patristic tradition of Matthew's Logia well enough.

        Shalom!

        Mahlon

        Mahlon H. Smith
        Department of Religion
        Rutgers University
        New Brunswick NJ 08901
         
         
         
        Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
        http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
      • Horace Jeffery Hodges
        ... In any case, no hypothesis can command acceptance as long as the possibility remains that another hypothesis can be formulated that fits that body of data
        Message 3 of 7 , Nov 28, 2001
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          Mahlon H. Smith wrote:

          -------------------------------------------------------
          "In any case, no hypothesis can command acceptance as
          long as the possibility remains that another
          hypothesis can be formulated that fits that body of
          data better. In any scientific research, every
          researcher is free to use his/her own judgment about
          what range of data is relevant & which hypothesis
          explains that data better than others. One hypothesis
          may be deemed preferable to other available
          alternatives. But no hypothesis is so adequate that it
          is not subject to challenge, correction & refinement
          on the basis of closer analysis of the data it
          pretends to explain. For it is only by testing the
          hypothesis against all the data that one can tell how
          well it fits. That's what collegial scientific debate
          & cumulative progress in knowledge is all about."
          -------------------------------------------------------

          I suggest:

          If "no hypothesis can command acceptance as long as
          the possibility remains that another hypothesis can be
          formulated that fits that body of data better", then
          no hypothesis could ever be accepted since there is
          always the possibility that "another hypothesis can be
          formulated that fits ... better".

          Therefore, some conditions need to be added to this
          characterization of "hypothesis" ("fits that body of
          data better", i.e., relevance and testability?) in
          order to arrive at a more adequate description of an
          acceptable hypothesis.

          Among these conditions:

          1) that all other things being equal, the hypothesis
          be simpler than its competitors (Occam's razor)

          2) that the hypothesis not have any internal
          contradictions (principle of contradiction)

          3) that the hypothesis be logically and evidentially
          consistent with other things that we know (broad
          compatibility)

          I would also add a fourth that would characterize a
          powerful hypothesis:

          4) that the hypothesis be capable of generating
          answers to puzzling questions in related areas
          (predictive and explanatory power)

          There may be other conditions in addition to these.
          For more discussion of hypotheses, see Irving M. Copi,
          "Introduction to Logic" (New York: Macmillan, 1978),
          467-472.

          Jeffery Hodges

          =====
          Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
          Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
          447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
          Yangsandong 411
          South Korea

          __________________________________________________
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        • Mahlon H. Smith
          Jeffrey, I concur with your added characteristics of a powerful hypothesis. I did not mean to infer that testability is the only defining trait of an
          Message 4 of 7 , Nov 29, 2001
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            Jeffrey,

            I concur with your added characteristics of a "powerful hypothesis." I did
            not mean to infer that testability is the only defining trait of an
            acceptable hypothesis. It is just the minimal *sine qua non* without which
            no hypothesis could claim to be scientific. For instance you could have a
            simple non-contradictory hypothesis that is compatible with what we know,
            but unable to be tested by available evidence & one is left with only one
            possible opinion which can neither be falisified or verified. Such a
            hypothesis still cannot command assent until one finds some way to test what
            it predicts (as was the case with Einstein's theory of relativity until long
            after he formulated it).

            Unfortunately in historical research & interpretation of relics of the past
            such as texts the possibility of constructing simple plausible hypotheses
            that don't contradict known facts but which still cannot be demonstrated
            because of lack of positive evidence is more often the case than not. That
            is why in all historical research there is always room for debate over
            interpretations that have long been taken for granted. While researchers may
            concur that one hypothesis is preferable to all other currently available
            options, one can never close the door to potential challenges. Therefore, in
            historical judgments there are few hypotheses that can command universal
            assent.

            Shalom!

            Mahlon

            Mahlon H. Smith
            Department of Religion
            Rutgers University
            New Brunswick NJ 08901

            http://religion.rutgers.edu/mh_smith.html

            Synoptic Gospels Primer
            http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

            Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
            http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges@...>
            To: <Synoptic-L@...>
            Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2001 6:43 PM
            Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: Hypothetical Source


            > Mahlon H. Smith wrote:
            >
            > -------------------------------------------------------
            > "In any case, no hypothesis can command acceptance as
            > long as the possibility remains that another
            > hypothesis can be formulated that fits that body of
            > data better. In any scientific research, every
            > researcher is free to use his/her own judgment about
            > what range of data is relevant & which hypothesis
            > explains that data better than others. One hypothesis
            > may be deemed preferable to other available
            > alternatives. But no hypothesis is so adequate that it
            > is not subject to challenge, correction & refinement
            > on the basis of closer analysis of the data it
            > pretends to explain. For it is only by testing the
            > hypothesis against all the data that one can tell how
            > well it fits. That's what collegial scientific debate
            > & cumulative progress in knowledge is all about."
            > -------------------------------------------------------
            >
            > I suggest:
            >
            > If "no hypothesis can command acceptance as long as
            > the possibility remains that another hypothesis can be
            > formulated that fits that body of data better", then
            > no hypothesis could ever be accepted since there is
            > always the possibility that "another hypothesis can be
            > formulated that fits ... better".
            >
            > Therefore, some conditions need to be added to this
            > characterization of "hypothesis" ("fits that body of
            > data better", i.e., relevance and testability?) in
            > order to arrive at a more adequate description of an
            > acceptable hypothesis.
            >
            > Among these conditions:
            >
            > 1) that all other things being equal, the hypothesis
            > be simpler than its competitors (Occam's razor)
            >
            > 2) that the hypothesis not have any internal
            > contradictions (principle of contradiction)
            >
            > 3) that the hypothesis be logically and evidentially
            > consistent with other things that we know (broad
            > compatibility)
            >
            > I would also add a fourth that would characterize a
            > powerful hypothesis:
            >
            > 4) that the hypothesis be capable of generating
            > answers to puzzling questions in related areas
            > (predictive and explanatory power)
            >
            > There may be other conditions in addition to these.
            > For more discussion of hypotheses, see Irving M. Copi,
            > "Introduction to Logic" (New York: Macmillan, 1978),
            > 467-472.
            >
            > Jeffery Hodges
            >
            > =====
            > Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
            > Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
            > 447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
            > Yangsandong 411
            > South Korea
            >
            > __________________________________________________
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            >
            > Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
            > List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...


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          • Horace Jeffery Hodges
            Mahlon, ... Actually, Jeffery . Everybody gets it wrong the first time. ... Yes, I noticed from your most-recent post to Brian that your conception of
            Message 5 of 7 , Nov 29, 2001
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              Mahlon,

              Thanks for the reply:

              > Jeffrey,

              Actually, "Jeffery". Everybody gets it wrong the first
              time.

              > I concur with your added characteristics of a
              > "powerful hypothesis." I did not mean to infer that
              > testability is the only defining trait of an
              > acceptable hypothesis. It is just the minimal *sine
              > qua non* without which no hypothesis could claim to
              > be scientific.

              Yes, I noticed from your most-recent post to Brian
              that your conception of "hypothesis" is more complex
              than I first realized.

              > For instance you could have a simple
              > non-contradictory hypothesis that is compatible with
              > what we know, but unable to be tested by available
              > evidence & one is left with only one possible
              opinion
              > which can neither be falisified or verified. Such a
              > hypothesis still cannot command assent until one
              > finds some way to test what it predicts (as was the
              > case with Einstein's theory of relativity until long
              > after he formulated it).

              I would broadly agree with this (but with the caveat
              that some research even in the sciences might reach
              areas, e.g., extreme fundamental-particle physics,
              where empirical testing is impossible and we are left
              with such criteria as internal logical consistency,
              external compatibility with other physical theory and
              known facts, and success in unifying previously
              unrelated hypotheses).

              > Unfortunately in historical research &
              interpretation
              > of relics of the past such as texts, the possibility
              > of constructing simple plausible hypotheses that
              > don't contradict known facts but which still cannot
              > be demonstrated because of lack of positive evidence
              > is more often the case than not. That is why in all
              > historical research there is always room for debate
              > over interpretations that have long been taken for
              > granted. While researchers may concur that one
              > hypothesis is preferable to all other currently
              > available options, one can never close the door to
              > potential challenges. Therefore, in historical
              > judgments there are few hypotheses that can command
              > universal assent.

              I also agree that fragmentary evidence is a major
              reason for the undecidability of many puzzles of
              history. Another major reason, however, is found in
              the assumptions that we bring to the evidence that we
              do have. That's partly the explanation for why there
              is so much disagreement even in social sciences where
              we have abundant empirical information -- such as in
              sociology or cultural anthropology.

              Best Regards,

              Jeffery Hodges

              =====
              Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
              Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
              447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
              Yangsandong 411
              South Korea

              __________________________________________________
              Do You Yahoo!?
              Yahoo! GeoCities - quick and easy web site hosting, just $8.95/month.
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            • Mahlon H. Smith
              ... D accord. In processing any data about the phenomenal world the human mind relies very heavily on pattern recognition which depends on a huge memory bank
              Message 6 of 7 , Nov 29, 2001
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                Jeffery Hodges wrote:

                > I also agree that fragmentary evidence is a major
                > reason for the undecidability of many puzzles of
                > history. Another major reason, however, is found in
                > the assumptions that we bring to the evidence that we
                > do have. That's partly the explanation for why there
                > is so much disagreement even in social sciences where
                > we have abundant empirical information -- such as in
                > sociology or cultural anthropology.

                D'accord. In processing any data about the phenomenal world the human mind
                relies very heavily on pattern recognition which depends on a huge memory
                bank of Gestalts made familiar by past experience. So we inevitably always
                bring a host of assumptions to the interpretation of any body of data.

                While this rapid & largely unconscious process serves us well in
                interpreting & interacting with ordinary daily phenomena, the selective
                harmonizing aspects of pattern recognition tend to make us disregard minor
                differences between the features of two or more discrete phenomena, on the
                one hand, and/or assume that the details of one are present in the other
                even when they are not really there. This feature of human cognition
                sometimes produces false matches by leading us to think we have seen/heard
                something that just wasn't present in the primary data. (My inversion of the
                letters in your distinctive name in my previous post was an excellent
                example of that; as is my life-long experience of stangers calling me Marlon
                or Malcolm, not to mention Brian's recurrent reference to "the tradition of
                the Elder concerning Matthew's Logia preserved by Papias" ).

                Incidents of false positives are apt to increase incrementally when we
                encounter phenomena formed in an environment with which we are not
                immediately familiar. For then our natural tendency is to measure &
                interpret this unfamiliar data in terms of experiences with which we are
                already familiar (hence the first discovery of dinosaur bones was heralded
                as proof of the existence of giants). This natural human tendency to project
                false positives on the relics of antiquity is precisely why clarity about
                demonstrable similarities & differences of a wide range of data is essential
                to forming a truly powerful historical hypothesis.

                Shalom!

                Mahlon


                Mahlon H. Smith
                Department of Religion
                Rutgers University
                New Brunswick NJ 08901

                http://religion.rutgers.edu/mh_smith.html

                Synoptic Gospels Primer
                http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

                Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
                http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/


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              • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                Mahlon, I agree with much of what you note about the pattern-recognition process and false positives. This will lead two scholars with the same data and shared
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 2, 2001
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                  Mahlon,

                  I agree with much of what you note about the
                  pattern-recognition process and false positives. This
                  will lead two scholars with the same data and shared
                  values to varying conclusions, but the disagreements
                  reached will be fairly readily resolved through
                  scholarly review.

                  Harder to resolve are differences in interpretation
                  based upon differences in values. Suppose that I lean
                  toward a materialist interpretation of historical
                  shifts -- so I look at economics and technology.
                  Suppose that another scholar considers ideological
                  forces more significant -- and thus looks at culture
                  and religion. In a nutshell, that's the basic
                  difference between Marxists and Weberians, and they
                  will differ regardless of whether or not they clear up
                  the false positives.

                  But I guess that this thread is getting rather far
                  removed from synoptic interrelationships, and since we
                  agree about a lot anyway, perhaps its best to stop
                  here.

                  Jeffery Hodges

                  =====
                  Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
                  Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
                  447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
                  Yangsandong 411
                  South Korea

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