cheap shot

Ken Litwak writes:

> Fianlly, one writer noted something about the Jesus Seminar's
> view of a particular saying.  Let me drop this bomb and finish
> this long note.  The conclusions of the Jesus Seminar,
> based on artificial, and often contradictory criteria, with

You'll have to justify that.  The criteria have evolved for many decades
now, and are simply a refinement of the criteria that "historical Jesus"
research has been using for a long time.  We're not stupid, you know. 
We're not ignorant of recent historiography, nor of "new criticism"
(which is now rather out of date).  If you are going to accuse us of
inconsistency, that I'll accept--that's human nature, no less for an
individual than for a collective like the Jesus Seminar.  But if you're
going to attack the criteria themselves, then you've got a century of
scholarship to fight.  I doubt very much whether you can come up with
any criticisms that we have not ourselves explored thoroughly.

> no empirical controls present, 

Surely you know that there is never empirical control in historical
research.  The best that one can hope for is probabilities.

> doing activities no one
> in other disciplines I know of would do to any literature,

What, you've not heard of the debates about Socrates (how much can we
trust Plato for historicity?  Not much.), or the debates around the
authorship of the works of Shakespeare?  Not to mention the questions
about the literary unity and authorship of umpteen books of the Bible?
These are not qualitatively different from historical Jesus research.

> do not particularly hold any value for me.  

Chacun son gout.

> By their criteria,
> I could prove conclusively that I didn't write this append!

It would be a very interesting exercise for you to try.  I would like
very much to see it.  I'm serious about that.

Sterling G. Bjorndahl, bjorndahl@Augustana.AB.CA or bjorndahl@camrose.uucp
Augustana University College, Camrose, Alberta, Canada      (403) 679-1516
  When dealing with computers, a little paranoia is usually appropriate.