19 June 2021

Yet more Crass (2)

It is truly remarkable how often people competent in relevant fields, but not technically "NT Specialists", easily spot the crass nature of "Modern Biblical Scholarship"... while the 'experts' are blind to it. Because, for the 'experts', their livelihood and academic standing depend upon acceptance of all the accumulated claptrap. 'Experts' have their 'academic periodicals', their societies, their conferences, acceptance of which binds them all together and relieves them of any obligation to take seriously any writer who doesn't swallow the main corporate conclusions of their narcissistic clerisy.

C S Lewis (Fernseed and Elephants) did an elegant (and hilarious) demolition of such 'Scholarship' to an audience of Anglican seminarians. He had, he said, been studying literary genres all his life; and what the Biblical 'experts' wrote about such things was nonsense.

Anthony Kenney, former Catholic Priest but for most of his life a secular and agnostic philosopher, demonstrated by stylometric analysis that (contrary to the certainties of the 'experts') all but one of the 'Pauline' letters really were by one writer.

Tom Skeat, an eminent Codicologist, showed grounds for thinking that it was in Rome around 100ish that the decision was made to acknowledge a Gospel Canon of Four Gospels. I do not know of any NT 'experts' who incorporated his findings into their accounts of the evolution of the NT Canon.

Bishop John ('Honest to God') Robinson, who had been a very 'liberal' academic all his life, wrote first On redating the New Testament and then The Priority of John, demolishing the theories, accepted as certainties among the 'experts', which dated the NT douments late. Something so subversive of the entire Modern Scholarly Consensus could never have been accepted for publication if Robinson had not for decades been very famous. It probably also helped that, when he wrote Priority, he was dying of cancer.

Professor Graham Stanton, having seen the little notebooks produced by planing wood which were used by the legionaries along Hadrian's Wall, expressed to me the opinion that the Lord's hearers might have jotted down verbatim what they heard him say in just such handy little notebooks ... ergo no need for any solution to the Synoptic Problem, because there isn't one.

A Nord called Gerhardsson explained the processes used by rabbinic teachers to make their pupils learn their teachings off by heart: ergo no need for any solution to the Synoptic Prioblem, because there isn't one.

Butler deployed arguments for regarding Matthew as the first Gospel, but he was ignored because he was a papist. Ergo ...

Eric Mascall demonstrated the factual plausibility and likely authenticity of some narratives in John, but he wasn't a NT scholar ... just a silly old mathematician/logician ... so, of course, nobody took any notice of him.

Austin Farrer wrote On dispensing with Q, showing what nonsense the Q-hypothesis was. Everybody agreed that he, and his paper, were immensely, incredibly, fantastically, clever, but that he was not a NT specialist; ergo ... of course ... he did not even merit refutation.

It's all very much like the reaction when Joseph Ratzinger started expresssing views about Liturgy. The 'Experts' gathered round to explain that he was "not a Liturgist", so his views were worthless.

I expect that's still A Grillo's opinion.


frjustin said...

More from Lietzmann: "The ancient custom of reading the Hebrew scriptures in the synagogue necessitated a translation into the Aramaic which the people understood, the original text and the translation followed one another verse for verse. Dubious passages were not translated, but read only in Hebrew. Originally the translations were extemporaneous, but naturally they soon assumed forms fixed by tradition. Out of these forms grew the Aramaic Targums, which were at last put into writing in the Talmudic era, i.e. about the fifth century....

""Besides reading and prayer there were exegesis and preaching, of course in Greek. The collective term, deuterosis, was given to the traditional elements here. The term is a liberal translation of the Hebrew Mishna, i.e. repetition, and it included everything deduced from, or built on the Law or the historical records of the sacred text: hence the Halakha or specialized legal casuistic, and the Haggada, the Biblical legends. Even Augustine testified that this deuterosis was passed on only by word of mouth, not written down - showing that the Diaspora followed the example of Palestine. It follows that there was a Greek Halakha and a Greek Haggada; or, to put it otherwise, the Diaspora possessed a Greek Midrash and a Greek Talmud. Traces of both often occur in Paul, Philo, Josephus, and the Apocrypha—but no actual documents, and it is scarcely probable that much was written down. Indeed, everything of this kind disappeared when the Judaism of the Greek Diaspora ceased to be."

As Lietzmann was a historian and not a NT scholar, he is naturally ignored by the bien-pensants, but he shows how the teachings of Christ may have been preserved and handed down.

ChrisB said...

The fundamental weakness of "modern biblical criticism" is that it remains trapped inside its own presuppositions.

Bultmann reveals this a priori mental trap in his famous quote, "We cannot use electric lights and radios and, in the event of illness, avail ourselves of modern medical and clinical means and at the same time believe in the spirit and wonder world of the New Testament."

As young students in the 1970s, we were led to believe that "modern critics" had found evidence that undermined the witness given by evangelists and apostles in the New Testament, only to learn later that the movement by Bultmann et al was not evidence-based, but instead a mental presumption.

John Robinson then revealed the dismissive mental trap of "modern biblical critics" in his two remarkable and persuasive books (Redating the New Testament and The Priority of John).

Indeed, the "mental trap" of "modern biblical criticism" is revealed in the disclosure (here at Fr. H's blog, and in other places) about the "modern critics'" presumption against the Septuagint (LXX), and the automatic deference to the Masoretic Text (MT), and most powerfully so in the comparative analysis of St. Paul's reference to Psalm 40 v 6, in his Letter to the Hebrews (10:5): '...when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me."....'

Thus, instead of believing in the authenticity and authority of St. Paul and his Jewish audience, we are expected instead to preserve the "authorities" of "modern biblical scholarship" (such as Bultmann and his latter-day followers like Walter Kasper), and are to dismiss the avowed ancient text of the Septuagint, written in Greek centuries before Christ, and in use by Jesus himself and all Jews and Christians of 1st century AD, in favor of the newer Masoretic Text of Psalm 40, written centuries after Jesus by the Pharisee cult of post-Temple / post-sacrificial synagogue Judaism, which curiously (at least it seems curious to "non-modern" biblical scholars) deletes "a body hast thou prepared form me."

But the "modern biblical scholar" then simply recites his scripted reply..."well, yes, but...they used candles, and now we have electric lights."

In short, the presumptive "mental trap" of "modern biblical criticism," now seen from outside as a weakness of the entire enterprise, has calcified into a "first principle" for "modern biblical scholars," who are painted into their own corner, dismissing the authority of evidence in favor of the mere authority of their own skepticism.

P. O'Brien said...

Cheerful article. I have read Robinson's book. An open mind and common sense go a long way towards understanding.

motuproprio said...

CS Lewis had it right (a thought it appears he shared with Pope Francis). 'The proper study of shepherds is sheep, not (save accidentally) other shepherds.'

Matthew said...

"Butler deployed arguments for regarding Matthew as the first Gospel" -- and Enoch Powell, a classical scholar of the front rank, came to the same conclusion in "The Evolution of the Gospel".

The Saint Bede Studio said...

Are readers familiar with Claude Tresmontant's "The Hebrew Christ" published in translation by the Franciscan Herald Press (Chicago) in 1989?

Grant Milburn said...

It's like when cultured outsiders like Yehudi Menuhin expressed dismay that the venerable Roman Rite was to be replaced by a modern concoction. A Jewish violinist could see problems that a liturgical expert like, err, Bugnini could not.

lynn said...

Read Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity a book he published in the 60's, and was republished in 2000 with no adjustments by the author. He endorses the Bultmann view. Modern man has exceeded the Gospels and the Apostles in wisdom and knowledge. The scales will fall from the eyes when you read the "conservative" Benedict.

frjustin said...

lynn: as Aquinas used Aristotle to explain Christian theology, so Ratzinger uses Jean-Paul Sartre to describe our existence in terms of being and its dynamic Christian model of "being for"; Teilhard de Chardin for insights on the Resurrection; and Bultmann's demythologizing proposition, applying it to Heaven and Hell, and not to the Gospels.

Greyman 82 said...

An interesting and informative post: thank you Fr. Hunwicke.

Biblical scholars are like most groups of academic experts in that they strongly feel the need to conform with the current zeitgeist, not rock the boat and confine themselves to the current received wisdom or paradigm. It's a problem in science that gives rise to such absurd concepts as "The Science" in discussion of, for example, climatology or virology.

frjustin said...

Dear The Saint Bede Studio: "The Hebrew Christ" makes a powerful argument, based on Tresmontant's knowledge of Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek, that there were notes taken down verbatim of what Our Lord said and did during His time on earth, and that all of the Gospels were collated within a few years of His death.

It should be read in conjunction with Robert Geis' two books "Divinity of a Birth" and "Exegesis and the Synoptics". He does a masterful job of filling out further Tresmontant's thesis, showing the bias in current exegesis and through his own mastery of Hebrew giving additional sure footing to Tresmontant's thesis. Father Geis calls the current exegesis community "a cottage industry of Enlightenment prejudices."

Christopher Boegel said...

Lynn -

Having read R’a “Intro to C” I think that it is no denying that in his book questioned what “the body” might mean in the Greek, and he was trying to find some way to admit the skeptics of the “bodily resurrection” into the fold.

Yet in other books, perhaps published later (?) he outright what if Ivrecall correctly was Bultmann’s impoverished notion of “the resurrected corpse.”

My best sense of R is that he kept searching the boundaries of how to express belief in the resurrection, until he seemed to surrender and submit to the resurrection of Jesus in his glorified body...as witnessed by St. Thomas at the end of John’s Gospel, etc etc etc.

Fr. Michael LaRue said...

"Graecorum iste morbus fuit quaerere quem numerum Ulixes remigum habuisset, prior scripta esset Ilias an Odyssia."
— Seneca, I believe, although modern NT scholarship is a rather worse case of missing the point.