[b-greek] Re Smart's rule

From: Alex / Ali (alexali@surf.net.au)
Date: Tue Oct 31 2000 - 05:55:23 EST

I'd like to respond to balanced comments made yesterday by our list's
co-chair, Carl, which were in turn made in response to a post from Mark

Mark wrote:

>I finally got in touch with Smart. He goes by the name Martin Smart. And
when asked of his academic background, I was not surprised to receive this

>"I would rather not bias anyone either pro or con with respects to the

>(This quote is verbatim.)

>Perhaps this response is enough to put this thread to rest.

To this, Carl replied:

>Just a comment of my own on this item: while some may think that's enough
to put this thread to rest, I myself think the question depends more upon
the evidence that has been offered in support of or in opposition to the
proposition in question than upon whether or not the gentleman in question
declares his identity; naturally, I'd be curious to know more about him, but
I don't think the validity of what he has to say depends upon what we
know about himself. Our FAQ on "Netiquette" for B-Greek says this about

>'It is a courtesy expected of B-Greek subscribers that messages should
indicate, at least in the "From" header, the personal name as well as the
e-address, or else should at least sign their posts with personal names.
Indications of the locality from which they write would help personalize
further for others the sender of a message. Academic or institutional
information may be appended also, but there is no privilege associated with
any academic or institutional status so-indicated.'

>I had something to do with the phrasing of that last sentence and it does
express something of my own feelings about "academic" credentials: the
problem with "academic" credentials is that they indicate formal training of
some sort somewhere and they may impress some people quite a bit, but I have
seen some opinions and assessments made by people with seemingly strong
"academic" credentials that I personally haven't found worth taking
seriously; on the other hand I've seen credible and important opinions and
assessments made by persons without discernible academic credentials. My own
view is that the worth of an opinion or assessment has more to do with the
evidence and argumentation supporting it than with the professed credentials
the person offering the opinion or assessment can adduce.

These remarks well convey how it is the evidence which should carry the day,
and not the parade of academic titles - titles which might give a spurious
credibility to a viewpoint that deserves no credence. I am in complete

The concept has wider application than to academic titles.

The matter of Smart's rule was originally raised as a question, whether or
not Smart's rule applied to a particular verse. It was only after quite some
probing by other list members that acknowledgement was made that it had
never even been so much as published.

And yet, it had been birthed into BGreek with all the status of a "rule".

The comparison with academic titles is obvious. Just as a person's argument
is not advanced in the least by academic credentials subjoined to the
individual's name, no more is one's argument advanced by calling it a

I value highly the role of BGreek as an educative forum. I certainly learn
from others' contributions, and suspect we all do. It is precisely because
ours is so helpful a forum that the positioning of Smart's dictum as a
"rule" stands against the best traditions of BGreek, and deserves censure as
being tendentious and likely to carry weight with those who may be younger
in their Greek studies (when grammatical "rules" are inviolable and demand
unquestioning acceptance), or simply unaware that what some call Smart's
"rule" is merely a proposition - and unpublished and without scholarly
acceptance at that.

Alex Hopkins (Melbourne, Australia)

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