Friday, May 04, 2018

Undesigned coincidences vs. Literary Devices


  1. Rip on the work of someone else with enough publications to easily have tenure because one doesn't have enough time. Avoid engaging in a back and forth in a journal happy to host it, and which is the right venue for it, because who cares about publications in a journal that one would normally publish in anyway? Then go on a show with softball hosts. That's respectable.

    1. Welcome to "Christian" apologetics, Dr. Licona!

    2. I think Licona knows he will get embarrassed. Lydia and Tim aren’t pushovers.

    3. If you don't play you can't lose!

    4. True. I know, speaking from my own prideful position, that if I was a scholar and someone challenged me to debate my views in a scholarly journal like philosophi Christi I would. I’m pretty sure Licona has Interacted with philosophers on this topic before. No reason for him to ignore Lydia.

  2. So, I have some human being questions, because I just get curious about people in these weird situations. I can't think of any reason to be embarrassed about asking them in a public blog thread, but feel free to e-mail me your answers in private @ lydiamcgrew@gmail[dot]com if you prefer that to putting them here.

    Human question 1:

    Will a lot of people be confused by the extremely inaccurate statement that Licona makes that none of these scholars are saying that Jesus didn't say things recorded in the Bible but only that he may not have used those words? Is just pointing out that it's false going to help at all, or will people just not read the explanation of why it's false or look into it enough for themselves to realize that it's false?

    Human question 2:

    Does Licona *actually not know* about my qualifications in epistemology, etc., causing him to keep referring to me in these roundabout ways that insinuate that I'm a total hack, such as by saying, "You can't answer every blogger on the Internet," or does he know better and is just trying to make people *think* I'm just some hack on the Internet? I realize that he thinks philosophy is totally irrelevant to all of this, but nonetheless I kind of doubt that he'd refer to Tim (also a philosopher who has criticized his theories) in this way, at least in public, and I have to admit that I'm finding these insinuations getting a little old.

    Human question 3:

    Is it possible to draw any firm conclusions about whether Licona has now even read any significant portion of my material, or can we conclude that he hasn't from things like the lack of any contentful response, the implicit straw-manning (e.g., references in the interviews to a "dictation view" of the exact words of Jesus), the insistence that he doesn't have time to engage with my material, and his own earlier statement that, in order to respond, he'd have to "begin by reading them"?

    1. I'm not sure I can offer human answers to human questions because I often question my humanity, but here goes:

      1. "none of these scholars are saying that Jesus didn't say things recorded in the Bible but only that he may not have used those words?"

      Yes, I think Licona's statements would (at the least) befuddle many Christians. Among other things, Licona's charge simplifies the issues.

      As for non-Christians, I think Licona's words could play into the hands of groups like Jesus mythicists and militant atheists.

      To be fair, it doesn't help there are unfortunately a lot of biblically illiterate and apologetically ignorant Christians today.

      "Is just pointing out that it's false going to help at all, or will people just not read the explanation of why it's false or look into it enough for themselves to realize that it's false?"

      I'd say pointing out it's false is better than ignoring it, but I'd prefer to read a lengthier explanation why it's false. I would assume most people following reading apologetics weblogs like Triablogue and both your own fine weblogs would tend toward the same too, but I could be mistaken.

      2. I strongly suspect Licona knows precisely who you are. I strongly suspect he knows your qualifications. I strongly suspect he knows Tim and you are a Christian apologetics power couple extraordinaire. However, on the offchance Licona himself hasn't ever Googled you, which would be so easy to do, or doesn't know you from Adam or rather Eve, surely he's heard from others about you (e.g. his son-in-law Nick Peters seems to closely follow apologetical issues, as evidenced by his own weblog, but certainly there are many in Licona's circles who could clue him in even though all it takes is one person to do so).

      3. I think Licona has a dismissive attitude toward you and your material. That's a huge shame, to put it mildly. As such, I don't think we can draw any firm conclusions one way or the other. It's possible Licona has read a lot of your material, but acts like he hasn't in his dismissiveness. Or it's possible he's just so dismissive he wouldn't deign to read your material in the first place. Either way, that's on him.

  3. That claim about whether their position is just that "Jesus may not have used those words" is pretty easy to counterexample. That's why I put several counterexamples in my post linked above. I could give more if necessary of course. Those are just some of the most striking ones.

  4. Ah, wait, I see that I gave most of the counterexamples in the podcast with Brian Chilton, but I do give the minute number in my interview with Chilton (minute 31). Here are my notes for the podcast.

    To give just a few examples: One idea promoted by scholars Dan Wallace and Mike Licona is that Jesus did not historically, at all, say, “I thirst” while he was on the cross. This isn’t just saying that he really said, “Please give me some water” instead but that there was nothing like that at all. Instead, he said, “My God, why have you forsaken me” and John changed that into “I thirst.” Another theory is that Jesus did not appear first to his male disciples in Jerusalem at all but rather first in Galilee and that Luke “moved” the first appearance to Jerusalem in his gospel for literary reasons. Well, that really calls into question the whole Doubting Thomas sequence, because John makes it quite clear that that occurred in Jerusalem before they went to Galilee, and Thomas would have been very unlikely to travel to Galilee if he hadn’t yet seen Jesus at all. One theory is that Luke in his gospel “made” Jesus appear only on one day after his resurrection even though he knew Jesus was really on earth for forty days. So these fictionalization theories have implications even for our evidence for the resurrection. One theory, promoted by Craig Evans, is that Jesus never historically said “I am the light of the world” or “I am the bread of life.” Not because he used somewhat different words and said, “I am the lamp of the world” or something instead, but because these sayings didn’t occur historically at all. They were just dramatic portrayals by the “Johannine community” of their theological reflections on Jesus’ other teachings. Another idea, which Dr. Licona attributes to “many Johannine scholars,” is that Jesus *would not* have been as explicit about his deity as we find him being in John, and saying things like, “Before Abraham was, I am” or “I and the Father are one.” Instead, he just “presented himself” as God as we find him doing in Mark, by claiming to be able to forgive sins and do these other deeds, and John wrote up these other scenes, which didn’t really occur, in which Jesus makes these “more explicit” claims to deity for himself. So these theories are definitely not just saying that we don’t have Jesus’ precise words. They are far stronger than that and are saying that the Gospel authors made things up and very deliberately changed facts as portrayed in their narratives.

    And as I add in the post, these are also obviously not even "loose paraphrases."