Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Why Doesn't Someone "Try And Deal" With Arguments Like Robert Price's?

Last week, I wrote an article related to New Testament authorship. Jon Curry has responded to it. There are a lot of problems with his response. I want to focus on one of them in this post, and I intend to address some of the other problems later.

Note that he ignores the material I linked in my article, including a thread in which I discussed authorship issues with him at length. Jon uses Robert Price's material, which means that I was interacting with some of Price's arguments in the process of responding to Jon in that thread I linked and elsewhere. Yet, Jon goes on to comment:

This is a constant annoyance to people like Robert Price, who advocates the view that all the NT authorship attributions are not justified. Why doesn't someone actually try and deal with the arguments?

Jon is one of the "people like Robert Price", and I'm "someone" who has addressed such arguments. See, for example, this thread, which I linked in the article Jon is responding to. I've also discussed authorship issues with Jon in other threads at this blog (here, for example).

Steve Hays has addressed arguments like Price's, including in threads in which Jon Curry participated (here and here). Such arguments have been addressed by J.P. Holding as well. J.D. Walters has addressed the subject at CADRE Comments (here and here), a blog Jon Curry has visited in the past.

Christian and non-Christian scholars have interacted with arguments against the traditional New Testament authorship attributions. Robert Price is a minor figure in scholarly circles, and his view on this issue is a tiny minority position, so we wouldn't expect much scholarly interaction with him and his positions in particular. But the general principles involved in Pauline authorship of Romans or Pauline authorship of Ephesians, for example, are frequently addressed by scholars, and some scholars have interacted with Price in particular on such issues. See, for example, Price's January 2007 discussion with Gary Habermas and Mike Licona on the resurrection. The discussion wasn't primarily about New Testament authorship, but Habermas and Licona do interact with some of Price's claims about the Pauline authorship of some of the documents commonly accepted as Pauline. Note Price's frequent comments about his minority status in modern scholarship during the program. I think the neglect of his arguments has more to do with their unpopularity than it has to do with an inability to refute the arguments. The other material linked above sometimes references other scholarly sources who have interacted with such argumentation. In previous discussions with Jon, we've cited scholarly works he could consult on authorship issues, including Pauline authorship of the documents commonly accepted as Pauline. In a past discussion with Jon, Steve recommended Harold Hoehner's commentary on Ephesians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2002). There are some responses to scholars like F.C. Baur, either directly or indirectly through the citation of other works, in commentaries like Peter O'Brien's on Philippians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1991) and Gene Green's on 1 and 2 Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2002). In previous discussions with me, Jon has argued against Pauline authorship by citing characteristics of the letters that are frequently addressed in Biblical commentaries (Paul's use of "I, Paul", Paul's references to his writing style, etc.). It's not as though a scholar has to respond specifically to somebody like F.C. Baur, Hermann Detering, or Robert Price in order to address the relevant issues.

I doubt that Jon has made much of an effort to research this subject. Rather, I suspect that he's relying inordinately on sources he comes across online, like Robert Price and Wikipedia, as he has so often in the past. And he doesn't even exercise much effort or discernment with what's available online.

1 comment:

  1. Robert Price has got to be one of the most liberal, weird minded critics out there. I don't mean that as an insult, rather a statement of fact. He questions the authenticity of 1 Cor. 15:3-11, despite having no manuscript evidence and openly admitting to that. And then he shrugs that issue off like it's not a big deal.

    I like the quote Morris gives from Robertson and Plummer concerning the authorship of 1 Corinthians: "Both the external and the internal evidence for the Pauline authorship are so strong that those who attempt to show that the Apostle was not the writer succeed chiefly in proving their own incompetence as critics." While this quote in context refers to 1 Corinthians in general, I think it applies quite well here, too. Point being, his radical criticism of things like this make me really question his criticism of anything.