Dan's epistemology (unfortunately, long)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Sat Mar 3 11:50:21 EST 2001

I was thinking about not sending this post, as there seems there is little
hope of communication with you, Dan. You "saturation of the airwaves"
yesterday showed that you have little respect for the main purposes of this
list. There was almost nothing to do with the sorts of this that are
normally dealt with here, minimal linguistic work, merely a few citations of
texts, no efforts to deal with what the writers were doing. In fact, your
general approach is to sublimate the original writers' activities to your

However, I send this because 1) I spent a fair bit of time on it, and 2) I
don't think I have communcated my complaints about what you are doing here
clearly enough.

Other noble readers, I hope, can cut through the necessary polemic or skip
down, if they are interested, to the section about Dan 7 in the middle of
the post. (There's a friendly line to indicate the start of that part.)

>> >> 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.
>Yes you can, Ian. Skakespeare's works were presented to people
>and written for people who knew what genre it was (some
>exceptions maybe).

I must take it that you are refusing to understand, Dan.

You show no mechanism to separate what the particular gospel writer you may
select writes about his character(s) from what Shakespeare writes about his

>Much more so
>the NT writers wrote to people who knew who the authors were (even
>if sometimes *we* might not with certainty, such as epist. to
>Hebrews, but even there the author requests that the readers pray
>for him and associates himself with Timothy, so his *original*
>readers obviously knew who he was), and they knew why they wrote
>and the genre of writing.

You are talking without having anything to back what you are saying up. You
know nothing about a text's original readers other than what you decide to
invent. You assume that Timothy was a person. You are so full of assumptions
that I can't point them all out to you.

>Furthermore, it is
>often in the very argument of the text itself that it *must* be taken
>literally about a historical person.

When you cannot separate a text writer from the text's contents then you
have no hope of being able to deal with the text.

When you cannot separate a text from your assumptions about it you cannot
say anything about the text.

>Read 1 Cor. 15 sometime again; it's explicit. Paul argues for his theology
>concerning life-and-death issues (unlike Shakespeare), and he says that if
>it's not based on a literal, historical fact re: the historical person of
>Jesus, then it's all a myth and Christians should be most miserable people.

I'll leave you to struggle with your inabilities to deal with the text's

>The genre of the Bible is not the same as Shakespeare's genre

I don't think you've shown any ability to discern what the text's genre is.
You've shown no way of knowing anything about the text. You are still stuck
within it and have no way to exit from it. You are in fact trapped in it.
This is no situation for you to attempt to communicate about the way things
are or were.

>(or other historical fiction or drama),

As you haven't shown what the genre of the texts that you are trying to talk
about were, you're not saying much of meaning.

>and typically the original audience of works of literature knew the

Another baseless statement. It might be worthwhile leaving aside your
projections of the world from this beginning of the new millennium and then
attempt to understand what the approach to the world was at the time you are
attempting to talk about.

>--and were intended to have known it by their respective writers

I think you should read about the range of the audiences at Shakespeare's

>(even if you have not figured it out yet for yourself!).

You show no knowledge of ehat you are talking about.

>> >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,
>> eh?
>> 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.
>I don't doubt some historical exceptions in the audience of certain works.

I did choose the example for some reason, in an attempt to make it easier
for you to understand.

>But it's evident that the Biblical writers are claiming a vital
>theological message that has no relevance to Shakespeare's agenda
>(if/when he wanted to misrepresent history).

You seem to be playing with a double standard. You are prepared to read
gospel texts, whose writers you know nothing about directly, literally,
naturally without having any indications that this is a justifiable step. At
the same time you don't want to do this with other texts.

No-one is claiming that Shakespeare actively misrepresented history,
dramatise it maybe, just as Tacitus did with his front line speeches and as
the dramatist of the garden of Gethsemene did.

>Paul actually *believes* what he's saying about Jesus, right?

How would you know? The writer is quite a manipulator of people. You may be

>(He wasn't out to deceive but sacrificed himself for his readers at every

Do I understand that you are treating Acts as though it were history?? On
what grounds?

>Do you think Shakespeare believed that his Richard III was the real
>guy of history? Think again, Ian.

Why don't you read Shakespeare's sources, before you say these things?

>Generally speaking, however, people know that a play is a play, and it
>doesn't have to represent history precisely.

What about the plays that go on here in the streets of small towns during
religious festivals?

>Naive people even today take
>historical fiction and go away with a warped view of histroy.

What makes you any different?

>That is the
>fault of the idiots who believe things that way (and is not true for

No comment needed.

>But the Biblical writers are sincere in their communication

On what evidence do you make this seemingly baseless statement?

>(even if you think their message is not true, you must admit that Paul, et
>al, are sincere).

Why do you think that they were?

>And it's clear enough from the persecution of the very
>early church that those early readers took it as sincere history.

Like the invented persecution at the time of Nero?? When was the first
historical persecution?

>> >> >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
>> >> deciding 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.
>The author's intent is not a matter of my a priori assumption. Paul is
>always asking his audience to pray for him and saying he prayed for the
>recipients of the letter.

That's what the text says. You haven't shown you have reached what the
author's intent was.

>They knew exactly who he was.

How do you know?

>They knew he believed it all as historical fact and wanted
>them to do the same.

Have you interviewed one of them? If you only have what is in the text, you
are unable to say anything about the audience. You can only hope that what
you can extract from what the author writes in some way reflects an audience
in some way that you think you can understand. You are in a mess.

>Even before some of the Gospels were written, Paul is arguing

How many gospels were written when Paul was writing? How do you know?

>for the historicity of the most incredible aspects concerning
>Jesus such as His deity, resurrection, and the reality of
>miracles in the early church (he assumes them--does not argue
>for them--and obviously believes they were real).
>> >> >[..]
>> >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.
>Paul didn't use a Midrash pesher approach

Midrash and pesher are two separate Hebrew literary tools. Isn't Paul's use
of Abraham and Hagar in Galatians a midrash??

>(at least in the abusive sense or reinterpretation),

How is midrash or pesher abusive?

>and the fact that he wrote in Greek does not negate the
>legitimacy of his interpretation any more than everyone on
>this list writing in English negates our interpretations.

He is not dealing with the language of the OT/HB, ie the meat of this list.
He is merely writing in another ancient language. The task of this list is
Hebrew, not Greek. His interpretations are *mainly* of an allegorical
nature. Allegorical use of a text is no reflection of the text itself and
therefore *mainly* irrelevant.

>> 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; [..]
>> >>
>> >> 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* about that text [..]
>> 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, [..].
>I agree that it's a human artifact, but that does not negate a divine

In what way then is it a divine origin? How would you know?

>It remains my contention that the best scholar of the Biblical text
>is the one who maintains precisely the same presuppositions as the writers
>of that text,

Assuming for a moment that your contention has some validity, it leaves you
out, as you have no way of knowing what those presuppositons were. It seems
like you've tripped over yourself and the impetus pushes you on but the
message hasn't reached your brain yet as to what has happened.

>namely that their message has its ultimate origin in God

This might be fine within the walls of a place where one usually professes
one's faith. A text is a text and must be dealt with like any other text.

>(even though its form and thought is also still thoroughly human
>in the best sense of that term).
>> 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 do have good basis on both external and internal evidence
>for dealing with all these issues from a scholarly perspective,

I don't think you know what you are talking about. Then again, history is
rather difficult when one is not prepared to deal objectively with evidence
(or lack thereof), as is the case with many modern writers talking about
historicity in the field of earliest Christianity.

>so i don't need to import content to the text, it's already there.

I haven't seen you do much else.

>You might follow Bultmann's extreme; i think it's absurd.

My problem is that I'm interested in doing history. I don't believe you are.
One attempts to produce results or analyses that make sense objectively,
analyses which attempt to put aside one's presuppositions in an effort to
deal with what comes from the past, not what we import into it.

>> 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 there.

This seems to me to be reasonable historical method.

>> >> >> >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
>> >NT.
>[SNIP of unedited rhetoric per your follow-up email]
>> so, when you talk about "the one", this sounds like pure vanity.
>Paul is not ambiguous when he defines things in 1 Cor. 15. I am not aware
>any liberal commentary who says otherwise. His claims are clear. Now, i'm
>not saying you have to agree with Paul or the rest of the NT, but i am
>saying it's clearly defined by the text.
>> >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
>> >ignorance.
>> Cutting through your rhetoric, the above means to me that you
>> are incapable of separating personal belief from scholarly
>> responsibility.
>They are fully integrated; you are correct! It is largely my faith that
>compels my scholarly pursuit. (Incidentally--since you're willing to give
>your opinion of me--i think your faith-system and scholarly work are also
>fully integrated.)

Thanks, but I think you're wrong. I attempt to work solely with the sources
and attempt to leave aside my personal beliefs for without attempting the
separation, I cannot hope to be able to communicate results that stand by

Some Daniel 7 analysis:


>> >> 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
>> >kingdom;
>> 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.
>OK, you're correct to the extent that i was careless in my wording for that
>context (capitalized "Son of Man", for example), but that was incidental to
>the point i was trying to make (a point which you didn't address at all, so
>i'll clarify...).
>> 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.
>Correct. The whole point is that this being is of the human race, or at
>least that his appearance is like that of a man in contrast being a beast.

It simply talks of one "like a son of man", "like a son of man" has
analogous implications to the beast which was "like a lion", ie the latter
was not a lion just as the former was not a human being.

>> [..]
>> The title "son of man" is a later development within Christian circles:
>I won't argue with that, necessarily. It's a mistake, probably, to
>capitalize "as a Son of Man" in the Daniel context (as if a Messianic
>title), even though the reference is to the Messiah,

Your theological underpants are showing through: "*the* Messiah". The one
like a son of man is an active representative of the Jewish people. This is
made clear in the text's explanation of the mystical first section of ch.7:
"The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole
heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High and
their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve
and obey them." (v27) To take vv.13-14 out of the context of the whole
chapter as you consistently do, does not augur well for your analysis.

(The one like a son of man, it should be noted, fits the role found later in
the book fulfilled by the angel Michael, their -- the Jewish people's --
"prince", who stood up for them.)

>that is not yet the point from a literary perspective.

I.e. it is not part of the writer's intention.

>It's a text that builds to that to be sure,

No, it doesn't. (If one doesn't mind a reference to Monty Python's argument

>but not by a title which is only a designation to reference his
>humanity (and perhaps his Jewishness, as you imply).

The one like a son of man is not a reference to the one's humanity but to
his form. He is like a son of man. This says nothing at all about his

>> 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.
>Here's where you err. He is not a "*mere* human" as you say, not in this

Where did I say "he" was a mere human? The text only says what he was like,
just as the first beast was like a lion, etc.

I said that a "son of man" was a "*mere* human" in the Hebrew tradition. You
are merely adding more error upon your initial one.

>My point is based on the part after your cut (which is below),
>namely, that "all peoples, nations and every language should worship Him.

This may be your repeated proselytising, but you are avoiding the Marcan
reinterpretation of the passage about the one like a son of man going on the
clouds of heaven to the residence of the Ancient of Days. The "one like a
son of man" has become "the son of man" and he is not going upwards to the
Ancient of Days, but going down to where the literary listeners of the
writer's Jesus could see. The Marcan version has nothing to do with the
defeat of Antiochus IV.

>His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His
>kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Ian, maybe you know "*mere*
>humans" who have everlasting reigns and who are worshiped by the entire
>world of Gentiles and whose kingdoms never end, but i don't know any.

It might be useful if you actually took notice of what was said, Dan. You
wouldn't make such irrelevant comments as this.

>It seems also that He is a man somehow qualified to represent Israel
>before the "Ancient of Days," as a priest would do.

Yeah, sure, going up to heaven on the clouds, like Ba'al returning from
dealing with Yam.

>Thus, Messianic interpretation of Daniel 7 was nothing more than
>good exegesis by Jesus (quoted by Mark).

(I think a good scholarly commentary on Daniel might be helpful to you at
this stage.)

>> Dan, I see you wilfully abnegating your responsibility. You
>> know what the text says, so why read it?
>You can continue to say such things if you like; no one will police you.
>But you have not demonstrated anything against my scholarship, instead
>you ignored my main point from Daniel's text.


If you read the text in its context you might see what it actually says. I
have seen no effort from you to do so, because you already know what it's


(End of Daniel stuff.)

>> (You know what Isaiah 7:14 says despite the words used.)
>Ian, you don't read me well (again). I said--in very clear terms with my
>follow-up post and comparison with the sign to Hezekiah--that my argument
>was *not* based on the vocab word choice for "virgin" (or for "sign") but
>on the necessary implication that the birth be a miraculous sign from the
>context of vv. 1-14 and a parallel passage in Isaiah. If you could at least
>attack my actual arguments it would give your attempt at refutation more

This is self-condemnation. As I said, you know what the text says despite
the words used.

>> >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?
>Mark wrote under Peter's authority

Spoken like a true believer.

>(who promised a record of the Gospel in his epistle). Peter was
>an apostle who Jesus commissioned to communicate the Gospel and
>who promised that the Spirit would remind him of "whatever
>things" that Jesus said. That's how i know.

How do you know what Jesus said? From texts whose writers, audience,
contexts, and motives are unknown to you? How do you separate the words
Jesus said from the words the writers put in his mouth?

>> >[snipped Dan's recommended bib.]
>> 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 literature.
>Ian, it is a huge subject. Read the literature.

I'll leave you to read whatever secondary stuff that stimulates you.

>There is much beside what i gave.

I'm sure.

>Do some study in literary analysis.

Don't be so presumptuous. Some of us have.

>Good literary analysis depends on the integrity of the text,

Good literary analysis requires that the analyst knows the context of the
text. You have shown that that doesn't interest you. You've shown no efforts
to reclaim the context. You have an a priori understanding of the texts'

>and what you discover is that if you start taking
>out the supposedly redacted/inserted layers, you rob any original author
>(and the final product) of a coherent message.

The text is still there. Denying the process of constant redation, as can be
seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as is hinted at with the different versions of
the OT/HB books found in the DSS, as demonstrated by the different versions
of various gospels (just think of the end of GMk and GJn's "you throw the

>I don't buy that.


>But don't ask me to reproduce all the arguments for the unity
>of the entire OT text here in this list.

Because (amongst other things) you don't have the materials to be able to do

>That's absurd!

That's right.

>> >> >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 false).
>> You might not have derived the assumption yourself.
>Thank you. I promise you it's not from myself but from the text(s).

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