b-greek-digest V1 #532
b-greek-digest Tuesday, 3 January 1995 Volume 01 : Number 532
In this issue:
Re: "Trumped up"?
Re: "trumped up"?
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 1995 10:20:56 -0500
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 1995 11:37:26 -0500
Subject: Re: "Trumped up"?
firstname.lastname@example.org (Greg Doudna) wrote:
>I don't think propaganda should be discounted completely as
>historical testimony. In general, propaganda will refer to
>known (and embarrassing) events or facts and then give a "spin"
>or interpretation of them in keeping with apologetic purposes.
. . . . . .
>The next question is
>whether that sign placed by Pilate is a fact or a gospel
>invention, in which the criminal charge is said to have been
>"king of the Jews".
. . . . . .
>The gospels are written post-70
>when it is impolitic to be anti-Roman. It is not original
>with me to see the gospels as (among other things) apologia
>showing Christians were never anti-Roman--despite certain
>appearances. Let me suggest that anytime the gospels correct
>a "misunderstanding," that "misunderstanding" is what is
>probably the truth, and the correction is the rewrite of
. . . . . .
>Side question: why do you assume what Jesus was doing was a
. . . . .
>I'm not saying this picture is impossible, only that it is
>suspicious considering the source--the source being Gospel
>authors to whom it is _very_ important to show that they
>were not then, and never had been, anti-Roman.
The Gospels as *propaganda*; "gospel invention;" "The gospels are
written post-70" (You say that with such conviction!); that the Gospels are
_prima facie_ less trustworthy than the traditions they correct; "[W]hy...assu
me what Jesus was doing was a 'ministry'?" the Gospel authors, a
It is a good thing to be honest with oneself and with others regarding
one's presuppositions and basic method. Greg Doudna's post is so replete
with presuppositional noise that the matter of our differing philosopical
positions must be addressed if any real dialogue is to go on.
I count myself among those who identify with the evangelical tradition
in Christianity. Many of us view with dismay a certain tendency we see in
scholars who operate from a historical and radically naturalistic
perspective. The problem is not so much in our differences of interpretation
on individual pericopes (we're willing to talk); rather, it is in what we
perceive as an unwillingness to dialogue about meaning on the basis of the
In a review of _The Five Gospels_ that appeared not many months ago in
_Christianity Today_, D. A. Carson pointed out that the Jesus Seminar's
recent book had practically completely ignored pertinent questions raised by
evangelical scholarship relative to the texts and matters with which it
dealt. A possible justification for avoiding dialogue on the basis of the
text itself could be, as Greg has asserted, doubts about the text's
trustworthiness on historical matters. Another possible reason could be that
they perceive that dialogue with evangelicals on the basis of the biblical
text itself (i.e. taking the text seriously in its own right) puts at a
disadvantage those who hold a radically naturalistic position.
The biblical text presupposes a supernatural God who works in the world
by supernatural means. Since a radically naturalistic approach to historical
criticism provides no categories in the set of real events for supernatural
phenomena, the radically naturalistic scholar finds himself at odds with the
message of the biblical texts at the most basic level.
Let's take, for instance, Greg Doudna's statement that "the gospels
[were] written post-70." Now, obviously, that year is not just chosen at
random, but reflects a certain process of thought. We might think that this
dating of the Gospels is based on some testimony from the fathers But this
is probably not so, since Clement and Iranaeus give apparently conflicting
testimony concerning the time of origin of Mark's gospel, and, anyway, there
is difference of opinion on how their testimony should be interpreted.
Rather, the post-70 A.D. date is most probably extrapolated from the fact of
the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. and that the Olivet
discourse mentions events that took place in 70 A.D. According to
naturalistic presuppositions, real prophetic prediction is not a real
possibility, _ergo_ the Gospels must be post-70.
It is not so much the date Greg gives that draws my objection (though I
believe an earlier date is more probable), as the naturalistic
presuppositions by which he has sets aside the clear meaning of the Gospel
account to arrive at his conclusion.
That a naturalistic application of the historical-critical method cannot
successfully come to terms with the supernatural dimension of the biblical
texts is not a new observation. Nevertheless, scholars of a naturalistic
philosophical bent continue to so aply it in dealing with biblical subjects.
In the search for the "historical Jesus," for instance, every effort has
been made to make Jesus fit into naturalistic historical categories. This
seems ironic, IMHO, since the real appeal of Jesus, from the first century
on, is precisely that He did not fit into naturalistic categories. In fact,
had He not superceded such categories, it is doubtful he would be more than a
blip on the landscape of history.
Can the historical critical method be useful at all in relation to the
biblical texts? IMO, it depends on what one's philosophy of history is. An
understanding of history that acknowledges the existence of God and
recognizes His power and prerogative to act in ways that suspend or supercede
natural laws could produce a historical-critical method that could successfull
y address the biblical text. On the other hand, an understanding of history
as a series of lock-step naturalistic causes and effects that finds its
beginning, and direction not in God, but, ultimately, in pure accident cannot
finally be reconciled with either the nature or the message of the Bible.
David L. Moore
Date: Mon, 2 Jan 1995 17:02:43 -0500
Subject: Re: "trumped up"?
"taking the text seriously in its own right" -- texts have rights?
how does one take a text seriously? do you mean as opposed to the
way non-evangelicals read?
"the biblical text presupposes a supernatural God" -- which text?
"the real appeal of Jesus, from the first century on, is precisely
that He did not fit into naturalistic categories" -- appeal to
whom? what makes it real?
"the supernatural dimension of the biblical texts" -- according to
"had He not superceded such categories, it is doubtful he would be
more than a blip on the landscape of history" -- why?
"a historical-critical method that could successfully address the
biblical text" -- what counts as "successful address"?
"an understanding of history as a series of lock-step naturalistic
causes and effects that finds its beginning, and direction not in
God, but, ultimately, in pure accident cannot finally be reconciled
with either the nature or the message of the Bible" -- what nature?
which message? whose Bible?
If you really want dialogue, you're going to have to start by
rethinking this language.
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 1995 23:17:37 -0500 (EST)
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End of b-greek-digest V1 #532
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