Re: In the interest of more open discussion

Date: Wed Sep 02 1998 - 01:23:28 EDT

Dear Carl and Edward:

Thank you for the recent post in support of open discussion. I do have a
couple comments, however.

<< Dear B-Greekers,
 Since B-Greek is meant to be a forum for discussion, not for debate, we
 would like those with helpful experience in apologetics to assist our efforts
 to foster open discussion. Our concern arises from observation in posts of
 recent weeks of several tendencies that appear inimical to open discussion.
 Some individuals appear to enter into our discussions primarily when the
 Greek texts under discussion impinge on particular issues, whether purely
 theological or more broadly social and ethical--or even purely grammatical.
 It appears that such individuals have fully resolved their own minds on
 these issues, have perhaps even published their views in extensive
 apologetic monographs, and are more concerned to enlighten the rest of us
 by citing their own published work than to engage in an exchange of
 perspectives. >>

I can appreciate the position you are in, and I recognize b-Greek for what it
is: a forum for open discussion of Greek texts that is meant to enlighten list
participants. Regarding the above paragraph, I am a bit confused: Is there
something wrong with selectively participating on this list? What I mean is,
many of us enjoy reading the posts, but we are too busy with other, related
pursuits to contribute on every topic. Still, when a topic close to our
heart/profession comes up, then those interested are likely to spend time
interacting with the topic.

So, for example, Bart Ehrman might, for obvious reasons, be more likely to
contribute to a topic regarding NT textual criticism. Michael Palmer might be
more inclined to participate in a thread on word-level categories, and so
forth. I am sure these and other list participants have their own views in
their respective areas of expertise, but the line I think you are drawing has
to do with tolerance, and the need to discuss the issues with facts and not
with a zealous predisposition, only. In this, I agree with what you say.

<<It would be helpful--and might also save us some bandwidth--if persons
posting on a topic on which they have published views should state at the
outset that
 their views on this topic are settled, that they have published on it and
 indicate the title(s) of such publications and the pages on which their
 definitive account of this topic may be found. >>

That is a good idea. But just because I or someone else have published books
on certain topics does not necessarily mean our views are settled. Of course,
if it is clear, by means of the posts given, that the person's view is
settled, your suggestion is a very good one, and it will keep persons who have
little interest in discussing the issues with an open mind from sending post
after post with their previously stated position being repeated time and time

<< Sectarian groups (whether recognized as 'orthodox' or not is irrelevant)
 also threaten the free exchange of ideas when they seek to dominate
 discussion of particular NT texts, perhaps because they fear opponents
 will misrepresent what these texts must mean. >>

I understand your concern, and I share it. But as long as the discussion is
focused primarily on the grammar of the text in question, those interested in
the topic should follow the discussion and decide for themselves. Do you

<<Anyone whose list-tenure
 extends more than a few months knows in advance who will respond to queries
 on particular texts and also knows pretty well also what they will
 say--there is neither danger nor hope of their changing their views. They
 are engaged in apologetics rather than discussion. What's particularly
 unfortunate about this is that unsuspecting newcomers who step into these
 topics often have new and
 interesting things to say, and there is opportunity for interesting
 discussion if we can step back and expose ourselves to learning something
 new instead of choking the discussion with well-rehearsed viewpoints. >>

I wholeheartedly agree with you. And I know you don't consider giving facts
and information relevant to the subject a rehearsed attempt to choke the
discussion. Oftentimes newcomers have not been exposed to different
viewpoints, and those who are familiar with the issues of a particular point
should be encouraged to share what information they have, and then leave it at

<< Please understand that all views are welcome here. But you must all help
 ensure that all views MAY be openly discussed here. Those who seek to
 ensure the domination of one particular viewpoint are not being helpful.
 Any poster whose interpretation of a particular NT Greek text is heavily
 influenced by some particular theological perspective or sectarian doctrine
 might do us all a favor by being up-front about these views rather than by
 pretending that they are disinterested inquirers. Often enough such candor
 may help clarify for others exactly what such a poster has in mind. >>

This is another good point. I have also noticed several attempts by some to
initiate threads with questions about a text that they know will involve a
"debate" of sorts. Some of the questions have been asked by one who
participates on other boards, and who has clearly already made up his mind
prior to sending a post to b-Greek, which post made it *sound* like he was in
fact a "disinterested inquirer."

Anyway, thanks for your comments on this issue, and may the b-Greek list
continue to be a place where viewpoints of all sorts can be presented,
considered and openly discussed.

Greg Stafford

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