Recent threads

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Feb 13 1998 - 07:10:23 EST

Dear B-Greekers:

I am both heartened and dismayed by the volume, substance, and tone of
several recent threads on the list. The volume--at least as a matter of
quantity rather than decibels--doesn't bother me, although personally it
seems to me to be harder, although not impossible, to keep up with it and
make thoughtful replies--but of course, not all subscribers are interested
in everything that comes up. The substance has often seemed to me to
transcend the appropriate boundaries of discussion for this list, while at
the same time I'm pleased to see a nice level of civility in most of the
discussion on the very controversial interpretation of John 1:1. The tone
of quite a few posts recently has been very disturbing, and some have been
contacted off-list about provocative displays of feeling about matters
which have nothing to do with the Greek language or the Greek text of the
Bible. I want to make just a few comments and then, in a separate sending,
I shall be posting the B-Greek FAQ again, as I have been asked to do

(1) B-Greek is open to persons of ALL or NO religious persuasion(s) who
want to discuss the Greek text or Greek language of the Bible seriously.
There are no religious qualifications for participation, but there is an
assumption that participants are knowledgeable or at least in the process
of acquiring a knowledge of Biblical Greek.

(2) B-Greek is NOT a forum for discussion of theological views or personal
faith AS SUCH. Granted, anyone who holds a theological view or a personal
faith-commitment will approach the Greek text of the Bible from his or her
own perspective and commitment, but the discussion ought to focus upon what
the text itself can or cannot mean in terms of its own diction and syntax,
NOT on the theology or faith-commitment of the poster or of the respondents.

(3) While not a qualification for participation in B-Greek, a healthy sense
of humor--not the sarcastic or cynical kind--can be a wholesome thing in
the reading and responding: if we are strong enough in our own commitments,
we can ward off provocations with a smile and have some sense of our own
weaknesses that enables us not to respond in kind to statements or tones
that gore our own ox(es).

(4) I think people ought to realize, as most do, that we bring to
discussion on this list not only a broad range of theology and faith but
with those a hermeneutic bias regarding what sorts of argument we are
likely to find convincing regarding the understanding of the Biblical text.
I think that quite often this hermeneutic bias--and I use the word bias not
in any pejorative sense but simply to label it clearly as a predisposition
affecting our responsive tendencies--is unconscious or unexamined but
nevertheless is intensely involved as we read and respond to posts on this
list. I think it is worth the effort to examine our own hermeneutical
bias(es) and to be conscious of them. I do not in the least mean to say
that hermeneutics is an appropriate B-Greek topic or that we ought to
engage in such mutual explorations on this list. I mean rather that some
reflection upon one's own hermeneutic bias(es) may just possibly help to
clarify to ourselves why we are provoked by some posts and not by others.
And Ithink it would be helpful if, when we respond on list, we bear in mind
that there really is a broad range of hermeneutical approaches represented
in the list-membership.

(5) Finally, I'd like to underscore a point that Jonathan has made both on
list and in some off-list notes that I know he has sent to some
respondents. I suspect we all use the labels, "Liberal," "Conservative,"
"Left wing," "Right wing," "Radical," "Reactionary," etc., etc. to a
greater or lesser extent. However much we may tend to identify or label the
stance of the poster of any one of the messages we read on the list, it is
not only not useful but it is positively detrimental to peace and civility
of exchanges on the list to use such labels openly in our posts. Nobody is
urged to change the persuasion that he or she holds regarding where he or
she or others may stand on either a political or a theological spectrum,
but Everybody is urged to understand that persons from anywhere on the
spectrum are welcome on the list. But we have no business talking about
these stances as such. I think that both liberals and conservatives have
been at fault recently in offering disparaging remarks about persons or
groups that have posted to the list, and I really hope that we can cut
those comments out.

I apologize for the lengthh of this post, but if we are going to continue
to have as great a volume on the list and if we are going to continue to
focus upon texts (such as John 1:1) that are touchstones for very important
differences in our theological and faith-commitments, then we absolutely
must address each other respectfully and with a sense that we can learn
from each other.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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