Objectivity?

George Athas gathas at mail.usyd.edu.au
Mon Jun 21 18:48:32 EDT 1999


Ian Hutchesson wrote:

> [...] So, without any firm date you are unable to give any method of 'testing the
> genuineness of such "prophecy"'. Can you give me any documetn in the OT/HB
> that has such a firm date? ie goes beyond mere internal evidence for dating?
>
> >Meanwhile, if all we have to go on for the dating of Daniel, Ezra etc
> >is silence, e.g. the absence of citations in Josephus, we can say
> >nothing more than "we don't know" in support of the late dating of
> >those books. But I, unlike you, take into account the internal
> >evidence of the books, as a priori evidence that the events described
> >in them actually took place unless demonstrated otherwise.
>
> Then you give up any claim of objectivity for your dating of a text.

Well, it strikes me as more objective than arguing that predictive prophecy doesn't exist. How do
you know it doesn't? Where is your firm, undeniable evidence? I'm not arguing for predictive
prophecy here (I don't think Daniel has it), but Ian your methodology is just as subjective as
Peter's. There's no escaping subjectivity in all of this. Your "objective" approach has the
subjective understanding that predictive prophecy is non-existent.

> If you found a copy of Gore Vidal's Julian with title page conveniently
> missing you'd have to say on internal dating that it was an early work.

Never read it, but does it claim to be a prophecy of some kind?

> >I think
> >this would be the normal historian's approach to a historical
> >document;
>
> In no sense is that the normal academic historian's approach. A document is
> a document and it's value has to be established along rigorous grounds.

These rigorous grounds will be made of different criteria depending on the individual. Some will
argue for predictive prophecy because they legitimately believe it to be so. Others will argue for
the late dating because they legitimately believe it not to be so. Which ever way you go, you're
going to be subjective because each person brings their own world view into the analysis. There is
no such thing as an "objective" world view. We may have degrees of subjectivity, but it's always
going to be there. That's not to say that our respective subjective views are wrong or right -
after all, that's going to be a subjective conclusion we are all going to make.

Just a little bit on the subject.... ;-)
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GEORGE ATHAS
 Dept of Semitic Studies,
 University of Sydney
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Tel Dan Inscription Website is at
http://members.xoom.com/gathas/teldan.htm
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