Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hunting the Beast of Doubt- Responding to DeConick

April DeConick asks the cynical question: Why do these conclusions continue to be drawn by biblical scholars, as if the canonical gospels are any more accurate (or "peerless") theologies and histories than the non-canonical gospels?
[Now this is merely representative of many people's thoughts on this matter. And so my response is to all, not one.]
One could get tired of stating the obvious, but perhaps the answer to this is quite simply that having weighed the evidence, this is the best explanation we (I) have - that Matt, Marko, Lukas and Jonno are more reliable in ascertaining information about Jesus of Nazareth than Thomas, Judas, Mary or other gospels from the early centuries. The rhetoric displayed by DeConick & others seems to suggest that it is self-evident that "None of our texts are histories, let alone accurate histories. And how much historical information we can actually reap out of any of them, and the procedures for doing so, are questions more problematic than not."
In fact, I disagree. I think Lukas is an able historian, not in the modern sense of that word, but having surveyed the evidence & arguments I trust that he conveys reliable information about Jesus of Nazareth. I trust that he has used his sources wisely, and has testified to the reality and essence of Jesus' mission, message, and life. In general, I would reply to the quick retort: "where is the evidence?" by saying: "The evidence is in my library; read it, master it, tell me what's wrong with it in such a way that your objections actually outweigh the arguments made in this material, and then I might listen to you." I may not have read everything, but I've read and studied enough over the past seven years to make an informed and honest decision regarding the state of the question.
Now, lest I sound arrogant, I am reminded of the words of my former principle: Feel free to help me out: Sit me on your cyber-spatial couch and give me some therapy. Show me where I've missed something or made a fallicious reference, or neglected pivotal evidence. Failing that, stop whining about people who come to different conclusions. Offer critically engaging arguments with evidence (or point to works which actually do so, and don't resort to ad hominem), then we may realise the folly of our ways, and change our minds. Failing that, why not reconsider your own position, and realise that perhaps things are not self-evident, and maybe you have missed something...
Thoughts, comments and criticisms welcomed...
Nice chatting...

1 comment:

the Finnie's said...

Hi Sean
Excellent post, really enjoyed it. You're argument makes sense and is well put. If only the cynics would put as much effort into their cynicism as you do into your responses to them.