Longish Apologia Vita Sua

From: Larry Swain (lswain@wln.com)
Date: Sun Sep 03 1995 - 03:03:48 EDT

On Sat, 2 Sep 1995 Jan.Haugland@uib.no wrote:

> tote - most naturally refers to direct chronological succession of events.
> "Then" in English can of course also refer to next event in order separated
> by a long time (ie, "then, after many hundred years..."), but like with "tote"
> that's not the natural understanding of "then".

Perhaps you missed the two posts by others on this. Someone (Carlton?)
and I apologize for not keeping track here, posted a rather long message
dealing with the lexicographical details regarding the use of tote in
koine, the temporal sense of "at that time" and the non classical
sequential sense. This material was largely reiterated in the posting by
Bruce Terry to which I responded suggesting both a sequential and then a
temporal use of TOTE within a few verses of one another. Your argument
is leaving out half the evidence. And where you ever conceived of the
idea that myself or anyone else on this list believes that TOTE somehow
means centuries is somewhat beyond my comprehension.
> Mt 16:27,28: Speaks for itself, IMO. Me and you have had a long private
> discussion earlier. You argued this "coming in the clouds" referred to the
> transfiguration. For some reason, this and a large number of other claims you
> made to me privately has not been repeated on this mailing list.

My intent in entering any comment on this topic on this list was not to
debate you, I responded with an opinion on Bruce's query regarding the
use of TOTE in Mt 24. It had very little to do with you, other than that
Bruce's question had to do with some of your questions he wished to
repond to. That is the most immediate reason my "claims" have not
appeared here. The second reason is that this list is dedicated to
discussing issues of the Greek text, not to large interpretations of
large sections of scripture. A rule I am here breaking, I might add.
As someone noted, this is not a theology list.
If you wish, when my paper on Matthew 16.21-17.23 is in print I will send
you the reference, if not i won't take any offence.

> > 70s or 80s and Luke almost certainly and universally in the 80s. If the
> > majority of scholarship is correct in this regard, then for the people
> > who recorded these words in the Little Apocalypse, the parousia is yet
> > future. Thus, the most natural understanding of the text changes.
> This is a premise that changes the understanding. If you have read my messages,
> you will have seen I have posted several arguments against this. Where is it
> written in stone that we have to accept "majority of scholarship" without
> asking questions?

This is rather interesting. In my penultimate post I stated that I would
date Matthew's gospel in the early 60s, very much against the majority of
scholarship. I have also stated clearly on this list that I do not think
the 2 Source Hypothesis is the best explanation of gospel origins, and
although this is still less controversial than other positions, it does
go against the majority of scholarship, as does my agreement with Bruce
and others on this list that the longer ending of Mark should not be
rejected as inauthentic. So it is most enlightening that you should ask
whether I think that the majority should not be questioned. Secondly,
you missed my point altogether. It was neither an appeal to majority
rule nor to debate your own arguments regarding date. Rather my purpose
was to illustrate that the claim you make regarding "the most natural"
understanding of the text rests entirly on how one answers certain
questions such as date, provenance, specificity of the words here (how
general are they, or how very specific should we take them as referring
to historical events rather than events "in illo tempore"-mythic time to
use Eliade's term.) and of course origin-are these Jesus' words or the
churches. How you answer these questions will determine what you see as
the msot natural and obvious meaning of the text. You answer them in one
way, others of us answer them another. THus what the natural meaning is
not necessarily what you say it is. That is my only point here.

> the apocalyptic sayings, in 5:3, Paul says "sudden destruction will come upon
> them." So this letter, practically universally agreed to have been written in
> 50AD (some say 51AD), states the same thing as the synoptics. (see also
> 2The1:6-8)

So are you saying here that the majority of scholarship shouldn't be
questioned? Can't resist turning your own statement against you.

> Can you imagine someone writing a book -- two books in fact -- after WW2,
> claiming that their religious master had predicted the Holocaust as a rightful
> punishment for the Jews? Doesn't the mere thought make us shudder? Would it not
> be the most tasteless act imaginable? Think about it.

This is really shocking Jan. Where have you been? It is happening, and
it is happening at the university level, the very thing you describe
here, in Europe and the USA. I just finished a few months back hosting
the International Anne Frank exhibit here, and I can tell a few
surprising things that humanity has come up with. THis statement of
yours really gets me, it is ignorance such as this which allows something
like the Holocaust to happen again. I apologize, I do not wish to be
offensive, but I feel VERY strongly on this issue, and the current issue
of genocide in the Balkans and in other parts of the worlds. In so far
as it has happened once in this century, it should not be allowed to
happen again, ever, to anyone. And the fact that there is an
undercurrent of revisionist history being engaged in at the moment and
that intelligent people should be unaware of it angers me. My apologies

As regards the gospel writers, I would not attribute that attitude to
them at all, since I don't think that Matthew at least was written after
the fact, or that the little acopalypse refers to the events of 70.
> > > It requires an enormous amount of faith to squeeze 1900+ years inside a
> > "tote"
> > > like you do, and it has nothing more to do with scholarship than whatever
> > > I may have said.
> >
> "Ad hominem" means to discredit an argument based on an irrelevant attack on a
> person. I don't make such an attack. Like many people, you don't fully
> understand what "ad hominem" is about.

And a very good use of the ad hominem you have made here. It runs a
little like this: I don't know what it is, therefore when I say that your
comments regarding my faith statements on this list(which I don't think I
have ever made), my lack of knowledge of Greek (TOTE=1900+ years, is not
used sequentially etc), that my arguments onlist have nothing to do with
scholarship, therefore I am not to be listened to. If this were an
example in my Logic class, I would give you an A.

> > First, in none of my
> > posts either on list or off have I suggested that TOTE means 1900 years:
> > Quote me.
> Offline you have stated that the parousia still belongs to the future.
> You asked me to quote you, and I take that as a permission:
> "Why? Why 70? It is so against the scriptures themselves which speak of
> the evil being removed from the earth, not the righteous, where his elect
> are gathered, not scattered."
> "I expect Jesus' words just before this to be taken seriously: see vs 27.
> An event which can't be missed."
> Now, unless you will not agree that it's been about 1900 years since the
> statements were made, I can hardly understand it differently.

Nice quotations. Now just where in those statements do you see that a
statement is made that the parousia is future or anything about 1900+
years? Frankly I don't. It is illogical to assume that to argue against
a position is therefore to argue for another, particularly one that has
not been stated by the correspondant.

> Well, point out my "several glaring factual errors" then. You have
pointed out > none so far.
a)you missed entirely the discussion regarding the sequential uses of
TOTE in koine literature, something that I am not only to have mentioned
to you.
b) you have read into people's statements meanings they did not intend in
order to bolster your argument, and I am also not the only one in this
list to mention that

c) you have misattributed arguments to people which they never stated in
order to make light of their arguments (for example that I think that
Matthew is a late document, something I not never stated, but stated the
precise contrary, and I know of at least one other on this list who has
also stated that you misconstrued what he has said.)

d) You have done the very thing you accused Carl of: ignoring the major
points focussing on the minor. You have ignored completely other
people's arguments. One of mine is the fact that if we accept your
interpretation of things that the Bar Kochba revolt better fits the
description which you wish to read in here, but that has elicited no
response at all.

Actually looking back on it, d includes 3 "glaring errors": first,
hypocrisy, accusing others of what you do yourself. They may have done
it, (including I suppose myself), but so have you, and I would hope that
you are enough of human being to admit it. Second, you ignore the
argument, the basis of the hypocrisy. Third, you ignore history in so
far as such a thing may be ascertained. Your theory just doesn't make
sense historically.

e)as I pointed in the last couple of my posts you have built arguments
and responded to arguments built upon faulty premises. Refer to those
posts for the details.

And that is just the beginning, but should be sufficient. None of these
were "hidden" or secrets or not mentioned in my posts to you, they have
been publicly stated, so this exercise which you asked for ("Well, point
out my 'several glaring factual errors'")is sheer redundancy.

> Seriously, I suggest we just bury this discussion. What I wanted to know by
> posting on this list was if my understanding of the Greek key words was
> correct: genea, tote, aion, etc. This has been confirmed, and I have no reason
> to continue this discussion where it does not belong.

WHile you have raised good points, you have also not been paying
attention, I would really suggest that you enter a university and
actually learn Greek.
> I do of course observe that my summary of arguments caused some irritation.
> This fact just amuses me.

Irritation has not been caused by the "summary of arguments". Irritation
has been caused by your insults, by your twisting of arguments and
statements to say something they never were intended to say (another
example is when you cited my reference to the text of Mt 24.24 which was
neither in reference to your arguments, nor was it anything more than a
reference was taken as support and concurrence with your overall
position.), irritation has been called by your overall attitude and
disregard for the purposes of this list. ALl of us on this list to some
degree or other deal with the world of ideas, and are confronted by, and
often confront others with, ideas which differ from our own, and we can
discuss them in an informative atomosphere of commonality without
rancor. You have introduced a new, and unwelcome, element which does not
appear to foster discussion, but rather acrimonious debate. So please,
do as you have suggested here. Drop it.

Larry Swain
Parmly Billings Library

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:26 EDT