a moderator?

Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Thu, 22 Aug 1996 11:46:55 -0500

It is with some trepidation that I write this note, for I fear that I may
be offering myself as a sort of "sacrificial lamb" in volunteering to join
a Board of Moderators such as you suggested and as was rather heatedly
discussed at the end of July. I have re-read that correspondence carefully
and I think your idea itself was a splendid thing with several splendid
components, perhaps even too grand an idea to bring into reality.

I was, of course, one of those who reacted uncomfortably to your initial
indication that you wanted an Evangelical in this role, although I came to
understand your reasons for it and your clarification that one should be
sympathetic to Evangelicals even if not one. I am certainly not an
Evangelical; I am not ashamed to admitting that I'm a theological liberal,
although I try not to underscore that fact in my posts to b-greek. I do
believe that the Biblical text is inspired, but I am far from being an
inerrantist and tend to fear the perils of Bibliolatry when it approaches
worship of the Bible rather than of the God to whom the Bible points and
bears witness. Nevertheless I have tried to be tolerant and patient in
posts that I've addressed to Evangelicals and to those farthest removed
from my own position on the theological spectrum. I have tried, even if I
have not always succeeded.

I don't know how long I've been subscribing to the list, but it's at least
three years, and although I subscribe to several others, this is the one
that I have always found most congenial and challenging, and I guess it's
for that very reason that I have sought, from time to time, to suggest on
list that some posts overstep the guidelines of proper subject matter and
courtesy toward other subscribers in an effort to douse some flames or even
try to prevent them, if possible. At times I may have been out of line
myself, as in my posts last winter suggesting that the use of "In Christ"
in signatures was inappropriate because it made assumptions about other
subscribers that were not valid in several instances and was as offensive
to some as it was welcome to some others. I don't suppose that there is any
set of criteria more valuable than a sensibility developed through
experience in this regard.

I have always posted any sort of admonition with utmost reluctance (except
perhaps on one occasion when someone tried to use the list as a forum for
Pro-Life exhortation). And this is precisely why I used the analogy of a
"sacrificial lamb" in my opening statement. I don't really want to play
this sort of role and I rather suspect that I am too "blemished" to play it
properly. But I feel that it is a function that needs to be exercised, and
exercised discreetly. The impulse to write to you right now arises from my
inability to hold my electronic tongue in the face of the interminable
exchange over John 8:58 between posters upholding positions of Jehovah's
Witnesses and Evangelicals respectively. If I've read the responses
rightly, others on the list also found this exchange had either ceased to
be illuminating or had become outright offensive in its dogmatism and
drawing up of battle-lines of scholarly authorities.

I wish your conception of a Board for B-Greek might become a reality of
some sort, but I rather suspect that others who might be best qualified
might be reluctant to assume such a role on their own initiative. Some of
the best qualified persons for this role do happen to be scholars, such as
Edgar Krentz, Edward Hobbs, and Carlton Winbery, and you say you don't want
scholars in particular, although I think that Edgar and Carlton--perhaps
more consistently than Edward and myself--have been very restrained in any
criticism voiced in messages if they've even expressed it. But I'd suggest
a couple others who have been participants for a long time.

David Moore is, I think, an Evangelical in the strictest sense, but I've
never felt in his posts any hint of acrimony or disrespect for those
holding views different from his own--I think he would do very well.

Stephen Carlson has just finished Law School at GWU. He is a charismatic
(he tells me, although I don't see it in his on-list posts at all); I know
of nobody who is more reasonable and careful in his thinking about
controversial matters of scriptural interpretation, and his Greek is
sounder than mine by far. Moreover, he is putting together one of the most
valuable and fascinating web sites for New Testament studies that is
imaginable. I would not see him so much in the regulatory capacity as much
as supremely valuable in compilation of FAQs and maintenance of an archive
or web site with useful materials pertinent to B-Greek.

Randy Leedy is a young professor at Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist
and an inerrantist who has been on the list relatively shortly. I've had a
fascinating correspondence with him this summer over fundamental
differences of our faith stances, but I have the highest regard for his
integrity and competence and genuine respect for others.

If I thought at greater length I might think of some others who have been
around for some time who might also be mentioned as worthy candidates for
the sort of Board that you seem to have conceived. I haven't thought that
much about it, but rather I have written this to you more than anything
else because I think there is a responsibility that needs to be exercised;
I may be the least competent to undertake it, but I DO think that the list
really does not, at least occasionally, a gentle restraint or some sort of

Enough already. If you want me to help, I'll be glad to do what I can, but
I won't be in the least upset if you think I'm not the sort of person you
want in this capacity.

Regards, cwc

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwc@oui.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/