Objectivity?

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Tue Jun 22 13:47:53 EDT 1999


At 08.48 22/06/99 +1000, George Athas wrote:
>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,... 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. 

This is your idea, George, not mine. I've never said that "predictive
prophecy doesn't exist". I have indicated that it is extremely difficult to
establish cases of predictive prophecy. To establish cases of predictive
prophecy you first have to establish a date of writing of the text prior to
the events that may or may not have been predicted. If you go merely by
internal dating then there is no objectivity for there is no control as to
the validity of the dating. Reading Gore Vidal's "Julian", internally the
text is in the 300s. I just happen to know that it was written this
century, which makes things easier for me. "Julian" found by someone in
some other time without the cover page could, working on the erroneous
assumption that you can establish when it was written on internal dating,
will date to the 300s.

>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.
>
>> >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. 

No. This is starting with the belief that the genre of the book is
"predictive prophecy", ie unwarranted assumptions are made about the book.
The genre of an ancient text is difficult to assert when you don't have the
context (including the cultural milieu). The first step is to glean what
one can of that context, using what is known from history and archaeology.

To attempt to divine the significance of any text one has to attempt a
contextualisation. You will not get much significance from 1984, Gulliver's
Travels, the Prince or Shakespeare's Richard III without a solid
contextualisation, historical, cultural and whatever else that is
necessary. If we take Richard III literally we are falling for the Tudor
propagandist's deliberate misconceptions of history that pervade even today
our thought on the period and that text -- but then you need to know the
context to see that.

>Others will argue for
>the late dating because they legitimately believe it not to be so. 

To assume a text is "predictive prophecy" or not is to make decisions that
should be made with clear and open criteria, not on the basis of belief one
way or another.

>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. 

I don't think there is a need to fall into the grand debate over
'"objective" world views' to approach a text with as few presuppositions as
possible.


Ian

>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.






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