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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <ddanehy@siebel.com>
Subject: RE: (whorl) Fallible Narrators and Even More Fallible Copyists:
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 17:14:24 

> > Well, either him or another Hellenized Hebrew of the same name ;*)

> Inevitably, some scholars suggest there may have been a later writer
> using Luke's name, but I don't think they make a very good argument.

Nor do I; but I think even more that it doesn't much matter.

> > -- presenting to us, in a fictive and cognitively "safe" 
> > context, the problem of teasing out the historical facticity
> > that lies behind the Gospels. 

> I sort of agree.  I think Wolfe is clearly inspired by the way the
> church receives the Gospels, but I think he's making broader points
> that have wider applicability than just an apologetic framework for
> considering the Gospels.

Oddly enough, I wasn't thinking of this project as apologetic. 
Rather, I was thinking of it as experiential -- taking the 
experience of having this manuscript, with a certain kind of 
provenance, and just knowing that, however it may vary from the
historical _fact_, it is in essence _true_.

I agree that it has wider applicability than the Gospels; I suspect
that this experience has two general applications:

1. A general approach to our reaction to ancient manuscripts -- to
   our only real source of knowledge of the history of the world 
   before the modernist project of factual accuracy.
2. A general approach to how religious persons approach their
   sacred texts. It has, as noted, a very strong sense (to me at
   least) of relation to Luke; but it might be applicable to the
   Qu'ran or the Rig-Veda or God wot what all; the point being that
   we have various "scriptures," documents which, to their 
   respective communities of faith, describe the most important
   events or facts or truths in the world, but which by their
   very nature _cannot_ be backed up in any factitious way. I 
   could as easily say "Oh -- is _this_ what it's like to 
   believe the Book of Mormon, despite all the evidence against 
   it?": but for all I know, there may be a member of the LDS
   Church on this list, and the last thing I want to do is give

> > H'mmmm.  But then, I think the Gospels are incoherent unless 
> > you assume that Jesus was divine. 

> Here's where I think you're making the connection too closely. 
> Wolfe may agree with you about the Gospels, but that doesn't
> necessarily mean that he intends the Long Sun/Short Sun books
> to be incoherent if you don't believe in the Outsider.

I tend to agree while disagreeing. I believe that he tried to 
write something that you could do a Crane on -- explain everything
away -- but to write it so that these explanations would sound
contrived and improbable. I also believe he succeeded at this.

> Myself, I'd prefer to say that it's very hard to explain why the
> Gospels were written as they were if you don't believe Jesus was
> divine.  

Well, "if you don't believe that the evangelists believed that 
Jesus was divine." That phrasing leaves separate (as it ought to 
be) the question of whether they were right about this, and 
separate from both, the question of the historical facticity of 
the Gospel accounts. It's when the three questions are laid end
to end that I come to my claim that the whole thing becomes
coherent only if Jesus was divine.

> Coherence by itself doesn't mean a whole lot.  The Gospels could
> be coherent in their presentation of a divine Jesus but false.  

I have a great deal of difficulty with this, but only because of 
the interaction of these three questions. Why would there be a
false-but-coherent presentation of a divine Jesus? If it was a
deliberate plot to defraud the masses (as some have claimed), I
think the plotters would have done a better job of getting their
stories straight. Allowing for Luke and John to be later texts by
dupes, the inconsistency between MT and MK are enough to cast
serious doubt on this; on the other hand, they have exactly the
kind of inconsistency that grows in eyewitness accounts handed
on orally but _carefully_. On the other hand, if the evangelists
were themselves all deluded (that is, they believed but falsely),
a whole set of questions about the lack of contemporary challenge
to the core of their claims seems to arise.

> And the Gospels are more active at debunking rival explanations. 
> They denounce the claim that the disciples stole the body as a
> story made up by the Jewish Temple establishment.  

Right. The only problem is that there doesn't seem to be any
evidence, outside the one Gospel, that such a story ever 
circulated. Again: where are the contemporary challenges? For
them all to disappear seems to imply their deliberate suppression,
which in turn demands the conspiracy-theory of church formation;
but that again seems to founder on the inconsistencies of the

> Horn doesn't jump in and proclaim that Crane's hypothesis was
> nonsense.  

Right. To do so would be to problematize it; to simply portray
Silk's reaction (including his actually considering it as at 
least a possibility) allows it to reduce itself to absurdity.

> Horn's not completely convinced himself of the Outsider's
> existence.

But this has something of an "I believe; help thou mine unbelief"
feel, doesn't it?

> N.T. Wright takes a pretty good stab at it in _Jesus and the
> Victory of God_.  He claims that Jesus could easily have
> predicted the fall of Jerusalem as an inevitable consequence
> of continued defiance of the Romans without requiring any sort
> of forknowledge of the future.

Haven't read this. Probably won't; live's too short.

> > We are narrative beings.

> But could our narrations be more modest?  More aware that they
> are always from a particular vantage point and not a true objective
> model of the world?

Subjectivism itself collapses under its own weight (as the question
of whether we can ever have access to any certainty drags on and
becomes a certainty that there is no certainty), and ultimately
becomes the de-valued worldview of postmodernism. I am afraid that
I simply reject that worldview as useless for living.


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