Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Sat Feb 17 09:13:57 EST 2001

>> >[SNIP]
>> >>
>> >> It is a hypothesis.
>> >
>> >Yours is not?
>> The magic word in the statement was "a".
>Actually, mine is based on good historiography, so i don't consider it just
>one of many possible options.

Dealing with what we were talking about when I said what you wrote was a
hypothesis: you assume that there was one writer. You assume that his name
was Matthew. You assume that this one writer, Matthew, knew Hebrew. You
assume that this one Hebrew knowledgeable writer, Matthew, of the gospel of
Matthew did his work before 70 CE. The position I was specifically
commenting on is assumption riddled, but because you believe it, it's

(And it is normally accepted to use "CE" -- Common Era -- and "BCE", rather
than the Christian biased "AD" (which you used in your initial post on the
matter) and "BC" in scholarly circles. This is the imposition religious
beliefs through indirect cultural means.)

>There is such a thing, Ian, as *known* history
>which is not just a hypothesis. Your view, by definition, is uniquely a

You're wandering (and talking about things you don't seem to know about).

>> What got put into the mouth of Jesus doesn't equal what Jesus
>> said. You are historicizing literary figures. Do you think Shakespeare's
>> Richard III is the real Richard III?
>Richard III is obviously *intended* by its *author* as a non-historical
>characterization in drama.

When you don't have anything other than the text (or the performance) you
can't be so smart.

>The Biblical writers present their characters as
>fully historical--not mere drama--and argue that such a position as
>necessary to everything they say. Some subtle, hidden, minor difference,

This is rot. You read what you want to read based on a priori assumptions.
For many people Ricky III was that nasty Machiavel brought to life on stage
by Shakespeare. You seem to be doing just the same.

>> >Jesus was not a mere literary fraud but a
>> >real, historical person according to Paul in 1 Cor. 15 (and
>> other places).
>> I'm making no statements about Jesus per se. I'm talking about you
>> what is historical without showing any means to allow you to do so.
>So now you know why the difference: authorial intent.

You show no knowledge about the individual authors, so you wouldn't know
anything about their intent, though you do have a priori assumptions about
the "integrity" of the text.

>> >Authorship and integrity, if i recall correctly, of 1 Corinthians is
>> >accepted even by unbelieving scholarship. They don't believe
>> >it's true, but they accept that Paul believed it. Paul is not disputed
as a
>> historical character, and it's my personal opinion that he was also a man
>> integrity.
>> Hey, Paul seems kosher.
>Good. He's an honest man with a lot to say about the issues we're


>He was also well-trained in the HB and says an awful lot about it.

...b-hebrew as I understood it is aimed at Hebrew, not the midrash or pesher
of someone writing in Greek. This of course doesn't mean that passing
reference to Paul's interpretations, but this is not in the direction of
understanding the Hebrew textface.

>> >I assume at least a minimum of historicity/integrity to something as
>> >obvious even from the most critical standpoint; you *appear* to
>> assume nothing in the text could have integrity if it's inconvenient
>> for your presuppositions.
>> Actually, it's safer not to assume anything about the historicity
>> of a text until you can place the text in its original context.
>Perhaps, but which thing *cannot* be done without assuming *something*
>that text (even if it is only to presume that the text is false at every
>point where it claims divine authorship)! (a circle here maybe?)

We have texts. They were written by people. Divine authorship is a dogma
which not everyone can afford to hold when attempting to work out what a
text means. I don't think you can show a coherent way of incorporating the
dogma of divine authorship into the analysis of texts without ceding your
responsibility as a philologist, for the first thing we have is a text,
which under normal circumstances is a human artifact. Until one can show
that a particular text is not so, we would normally and rationally work
under the notion that any specific text is such a human artifact and that it
in some way reflects the human(s) which produced it.

We were not talking about assuming about just anything, but assuming about
historicity. Part of the task of reclaiming the semantic content of a work
is to reclaim something of the context in which it was produced. You cannot
understand authorial content without that. (This doesn't mean that you
cannot find content in it: you can import as much content as you like.) With
the exception of some of the Pauline corpus, we don't know who wrote the
texts, where they were written, who exactly was the audience, why they were
written, or their redactional history. We have texts which look back to some
time before the earliest copies we have. The starting point for our
investigation is from the first copies and we work our way backwards from

>> >> >might not be final, it should at least be
>> >> >worthy of discussion. I can't see any scholarly reason why
>> >> >it should be categorically dismissed.
>> >>
>> >> Isn't our basic job to discuss what the writers of the Hebrew
>> >> texts were saying? How do you imagine these writers writing the
>> >> materials that you want to interpret in a particular way: were
>> >> they cogniscent of the contents of the materials they were
>> >> writing? If they were, then *their* message -- as
>> >> writers of the texts -- is what should interest us, how it is
>> >> worded, who it was written for, why it was written, when it was
>> >> written. These things come from the text and the precise
>> >> historical period it was written in.
>> >
>> >We are in absolute, total agreement. Amazing, huh?!!
>> I don't believe you.
>I can't do anything about your faith--or lack thereof--in me or anything

You could.

>> >> >Further, since such interpretations are significant to
>> >> >Christians for understanding the Hebrew Bible,
>> >>
>> >> This is a statement of (obviously some form of Christian)
>> >> belief which will not be acceptable to all on this list.
>> >
>> >Which is precisely what i assume in stating it. It only applies to
>> >Christians.
>> Subset of Christians, Dan, subset.
>Depending on ones definition of the term. I follow the one presented in the

Crap, Dan. Total crap. You follow your interpretation -- an
interpretation -- of the NT. The sun does not shine only from your navel,
so, when you talk about "the one", this sounds like pure vanity.

>However, i am not aware of *any* professing Christian who considers the
>NT obsolete/irrelevant for understanding the OT/HB. Perhaps it is only my

Cutting through your rhetoric, the above means to me that you are incapable
of separating personal belief from scholarly responsibility. I think it is
reflected in your communications with the list.

>> >> A text should be understandable when
>> >> one has control of all the words in the text and how they
>> >> functioned at the time of writing.
>> >
>> >Correct.
>> >
>> >> >it's actually impossible to exclude them
>> >> >entirely from consideration unless the Christian interpretation is
>> >> >dismissed/excluded a priori.
>> >>
>> >> How does what one says a hundred, two hundred, maybe five
>> >> hundred years later change the meaning of the writer's text?
>> >
>> >It should not, cannot, and does not *change* the meaning.
>> >I'm against the idea that the NT writers or any other interpreter
>> >can or should change the meaning of any text. They may argue
>> >logical conclusions, expand, give implications, interpret what
>> >was formerly ambiguous or elusive in meaning,
>> >but they can never alter or reinterpret the meaning of a passage.
>> I guess then that GMk 13:26 for example, when it talks about
>> THE son of man coming in clouds, is not a change of meaning from
>> the original text it cites.
>Correct. The Son of Man in Dan. 7 "was given authority, glory, and a

I'm sorry, but here I get the impression you haven't not even *looked* at
the text. There is NO son of man in Dan.7. There is one which looks (I'm
inserting this verb) "like a son of man (k-br 'n$)", just as there is one
which looks like a lion and one like a bear, etc. Being like a son of man is
a description, not a title. You'll note the fourth beast doesn't get a
simple "like an X", but gets a full description. Opposed to these four
beasts is the one like a son of man -- naturally it is the one in human form
which represents the Hebrews. The title "son of man" is a later development
within Christian circles: there is no Jewish messianic tradition based on
"the son of man". "Son of man" in the Hebrew tradition often simply
indicates a *mere* human.

Dan, I see you wilfully abnegating your responsibility. You know what the
text says, so why read it? (You know what Isaiah 7:14 says despite the words

>that all peoples, nations and every language should worship Him.
>His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His
>kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." So He is the divine Messiah.
>Mark, quoting Jesus,

This is not a step of analysis but of belief. The GMk writer here said that
Jesus said... Tacitus, a relatively good historian for the era, puts words
in the mouths of historical people, having them say what he thinks they
should have said on the occasion. What was the writer doing in Mk 13,
quoting Jesus or putting words in his mouth? And how would you know?

I imagine if you thought about it you'd have epistemological nightmares.

>uses that same language to describe the future coming
>of that same Person who, according to Christians, is Jesus.


>> >> If you can establish some means of making the interpretations
>> >> that interest you relevant to the production of the texts under
>> >> discussion, it would make your case more credible.
>> >
>> >OK, this gets a bit theological, but since you asked, i will do that
>> >concisely! The "production of the texts under discussion"
>> >was not performed by men alone with mere human agenda to promote Judah,
>> Israel, David, the priesthood, etc. I find such arguments unconvincing.
>> You may. But you are not doing your job by discounting things
>> out of hand.
>If i discounted them out of hand, as you presume upon me, then you are
>correct. Fortunately i don't have to do that. I could say it's based on the
>evidence but without supporting such a statement, it might be offense to

I have only those indications you have put forward. They do not seem to me
to be based on evidence.

>What can i say without getting into a whole new discussion?

Try not to make statements which will open up whole new discussions.

>> >Rather, that
>> >"production" was under the direction of the Holy Spirit as
>> He moved men to
>> >speak/write (e.g. 2 Sm. 23:2, but constantly emphasized that
>> the message
>> was
>> >from Yahweh, e.g. over 40X in Lev. alone), not for human
>> >agenda, but for a divine agenda.
>> Without my questioning your assumption per se, how do you demonstrate
>> this?? -- to a Hindu, for example.
>Very difficult. In fact, usually impossible unless that same Holy Spirit
>helps me do it. But sometimes that happens in spite of the general rule set
>down in Romans 1. I have some good Christian friends who were former

It is therefore nothing which comes from evidence, which is what we can
share on this list. I think it is fair to say, here, we work with evidence.

>> >Thus we find a unity throughout the Hebrew Bible that is
>> >always designed to reveal to man the way of salvation.
>> Sorry, but so far you are stringing assumptions together.
>I can definitely demonstrate this but it's too much work for the moment! I
>suggest instead that you try reading a few books: G. Vos _Biblical
>Theology_, J. Barton Payne's _Theology of the Older Testament_, Walter
>Kaiser's _Toward an OT Theology_, O. T. Allis' commentary on the Pentateuch
>(very short, just came back in print), also his work on the unity of the
>Pent. and on unity of Isaiah if your interested in those books.

I suggest you stick to what can come from evidence and not be dispersive.
What the text itself says is always more important that secondary sources,
more important than putting people off to read your presumably tendentious

>> >One ultimate Author
>> >behind the texts gives the one unified message we find;
>> Another.
>It's stated in the various texts. So it's not an assumption which in impose
>from the outside. You are the one imposing an assumption from the outside
>(from your own mind) upon those texts (namely, that all such claims are

You might not have derived the assumption yourself. The reason I mentioned
the Hindu in my last post was that I consider you incapable of dealing with
the text using strict philological analysis. You need a theological
superstructure which is not transportable. I wonder if you can actually say
anything about the text as it is written without imposing a theological
filter on your reading glasses.

Claims don't need to be rejected as being false not to be used. If a claim
cannot be shown to be relevant, it may not be false, but it still should not
to be used, especially when its utility to the job at hand will not be
accepted by all.

>> >He had one agenda.
>> Yet another. Dan, you're not doing the job at all. You are
>> not establishing a means of making the interpretations that
>> interest you relevant to the production of the texts under
>> discussion by merely a series of assumptions and apparently
>> uncritical approach to our texts.
>Obviously my summary does not include all the critical analysis upon which
>it is founded. If that is what you were expecting, i apologize from
>disappointing you. For now, i again suggest you read those works above and

I would appreciate suggestions regarding the tasks we have to deal with
here. Your supplementary reading does not deal with those tasks, but with
your attempts to justify what I would consider to be your non-scholarly
approach to the philology.

>and perhaps from time to time (to try to satisfy you!) i'll make
>some posts that relate to the unity of the HB/OT from a
>critical/scholarly/philological perspective.

I would be happy if you made posts that relate to any of the OT/HB from "a
critical/scholarly/philological perspective."

>But i have other reasons for
>being on this list and don't want to spend all my time on "apologetics" for
>my views in contrast to the constant "apologetics" which you have for your

This is not a matter of "apologetics" but of coherent methodologies.

>Unlike yourself, i am not a single-agenda person on this list.

Not only deluded, but probably self-deluded.

>is much to learn, discuss, contribute, and enjoy here besides just being an
>apologist for your own personal system of believe, Ian.

This is an interesting dose of projection, Dan. As a recent arrival, you
impose your own personal belief system on nearly everything you have said on
this list. I've been here quite a while and learnt much.

>> >Since, according to the text, that same Holy Spirit also was
>> >behind "the interpretations that interest [me]" in the NT, He
>> >can't be contradicting Himself; He is still contributing to
>> >that same divine agenda of revealing
>> >the necessity and the way of salvation to man.
>> >
>> >Now, while many will not accept this, i only ask that you
>> >consider that for those who do, it's going to have some
>> >bearing on our presuppositions to the
>> >Hebrew text from which we cannot be asked to divorce ourselves,
>> This indicates to me that you are making yourself incapable
>> of dealing with the nude, crude text, Dan, that your presuppositions will
>> protect you from it.
>No, this would not be true, even if my presuppositions happened to be
>I consider all interpretations of the text for evaluation. See my final
>paragraph below.

I saw nothing relevant below.

>> >and that for our worldview it's an *entirely* creditable view,
>> >even as we recognize that for those with an alternative
>> >worldview it may appear ridiculous. Others are
>> >free to deny that they have presuppositions outside the text,
>> It is noble to recognize one's presuppositions, but that its
>> only the first step in the process.  The next is to attempt to neutralise
>> them when doing historical or philological work.
>Are you telling me that *you* are now willing to consider the possibility
>that your presupposition that the text is written merely by men is a false
>one?!! (After all, *if* they *were* messages from Yahweh, then surely this
>would have philological/historical implications for you!)

Everything is possible, Dan. I do however have a few working principles, eg
you analyse the "incredible" only when it is more "incredible" not to
("David Hume/Could outconsume/Schopenhauer and Hegel/And Wittgenstein /Was a
beery schwein/Who was just as shloshed as Shlegel"). This is especially true
when dealing with other people, ie having to communicate what one can to
people who do not necessarily hold similar beliefs. It means being able to
demonstrate the ideas without reliance on the undemonstrable.

>> >but i have no
>> >personal desire to join such ideology. Let's just get on with the
>> >discussions as best we can
>> I doubt that the attitude you seem to espouse will get much
>> discussion on that which might interest you from people who are not of
>> those convictions.
>That is not just likely; it is certain. Some reject, for example, an
>interpretation of Isaiah as intending a virgin birth since it is a
>interpretation and therefore an impossible one which should not even be
>considered or discussed.

It is rejected philologically by many here, first and foremost because it is
not something which is derivable from the text itself; then because the only
people who sustain it are some Christians who are apparently acting out of
theological necessity. There is nothing wrong with theological
interpretations generally, but they are, I think, out of place here.

There has been the tendency to keep off old known theologically conflictual
problems out of respect for other positions.

>On the other hand, while i reject many views
>presented on this list, i am potentially willing to engage *all* of them if
>i have time/interest to do so. Who is the one who lost some opportunities?

I have a principal interest, which is the Dead Sea Scrolls and their
contextualisation, including their biblical contextualisation. It is hard
enough cutting through the flying bulldust (ie shaped interpretations
founded on a priori biases) in that field without having to do the same now
here because you have arrived. I might float an attempted contextualisation
for a text looking for a valid falsification, but I usually tend to sit back
and read the linguistic work that is beaten out here. This is the beans (I
don't eat meat) and potatoes of the list: extracting understanding of the
language for generic linguistic purposes and of specific words and phrases.
If we could stick to that which demonstrably derives from the text or its
immediate context, I think many would appreciate it.


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