JEPD Evidence

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Sun Dec 19 19:56:23 EST 1999

Dear NPL,

I don't think Kant's philosophy is considered decisive in the English 
speaking world. We have been, and I would expect you also to have 
been, cautious about German philosophy, especially when we have seen 
some of the ways in which it has been abused and used to justify many 
horrors. Yes, we do need to make a separation between private beliefs 
of any kind and scholarly study. I would agree with you that Jonathan 
has not made this as clearly as he should in some recent postings. But 
this separation must apply equally to atheistic and humanistic beliefs 
as to more traditional religious ones. On the other hand, I think that 
few of us in this field are able to do so completely.

You write that "In a scholarly discourse, anything that relates to the 
supranatural must be left out of consideration." Surely not if the 
discussion is of a recorded event which is presented as supernatural, 
because then it is at least relevant to investigate how and why those 
involved came to believe or write about the event in terms of the 
supernatural - and I see no reason to rule out a priori the 
explanation that an actual supernatural event occurred. The giving of 
the Torah is presented as supernatural, to some extent within the 
Hebrew Bible and more clearly so in Jewish tradition and the New 
Testament, and so the investigation of this belief is a legitimate 
matter for scholarly study.

May I ask you a question? Suppose that a student of yours presented a 
well argued discussion of some Biblical passage concerning a 
miraculous event, and concluded that this was an actual historical 
event in which a divine being acted in a supernatural or miraculous 
manner. (The beliefs of the student are here irrelevant - there are 
well attested cases of unbelievers who have studied the resurrection 
of Jesus and concluded that this was a real supernatural event.) Would 
you accept that as a valid conclusion, or would you rule it out a 
priori (no matter how good the arguments) and fail the student? If the 
latter, I think that you would be the one illegitimately bringing into 
the matter your own personal beliefs, in the non-occurrence of 
supernatural events (I am of course only guessing at your personal 
beliefs here). It is irrelevant that your beliefs happen to correspond 
to those of one 18th century German and his followers.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[7]: JEPD Evidence
Author:  <npl at> at Internet
Date:    19/12/1999 15:21

Dear Jonathan Bailey,

Scholarship is not a free for all. You are simply introducing to the field in 
a veruy outspoken way--and I am grateful because you make it in the 
open--elements that have nothing to do with a scholarly discourse. With your 
basis in Germany, you must know the implications of Kant's categories and the 
irrelevance of religious sentiments, notions based on such sentiments, the 
place of the supranatural in science etc. etc. Probably you do not understand 
this, but if this is the case, you have chosen the wrong subject. In a 
scholarly discourse, anything that relates to the supranatural must be left 
out of consideration. And I do not care whether or not you will agree, but I 
would fail and probably any scholar worth his or her salt would do the same 
if a student here wrote a thesis and included such ideas as the ones you have 
been advocating in this mail and other similar answers to this list. Try to 
get focused on the subject of scholarship. I do not want to be more rude than 
necessary but a scolarly discussion belongs to a scholarly list and a 
discussion about personal religious sentiments and convictions belong in a 
religious list where such subjects are discussed.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:        Jonathan Bailey [SMTP:jonathan.bailey at] 
> Sent:        Sunday, 19 December, 1999 12:53
> To:        Biblical Hebrew
> Subject:        Re[6]: JEPD Evidence >


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