Monday, July 04, 2005

Lurking at Crowhill

In a thread devoted to discussing the role of Mary in the NT, as compared to the Mary of the Roman Catholic Church, it is interesting to see how some of the posters over there operate. All examples are taken from this thread, which in turn is from the Crowhill site.

Some points to be gleaned:

(1) Waive away careful analysis by appealing to the fact that "language doesn't work this way." As an example, in discussing Eric Svendsen's heos hou thesis, we have GregK's statement:
The mind-numbingly boring analysis that Svendsen does of "until" shows a complete misunderstanding of the way language works. Words are not precise mathematical formulas. If someone asked, "Until the time you were 16, did you ever ride a motorcycle," I could say, "No, until I was 16 I never rode a motorcycle." In fact, I never have.


What's missing from this trite argument? Answer: an argument. I'm not sure if GregK has ever read any Greek-based NT commentaries, where he will find plenty of "mind-numbingly boring analysis" in an effort to discuss finer points of the text. However, we see that one's attention to detail can be waved away by a completely general appeal to "the way language works." This saves one the time of actually having to do some work, such as constructing a set of specific counterexamples that will actually count as evidence against a thesis.

Also, it escapes "GregK" that we're dealing with the Greek text, not an English example employing English idiom. That one can come up with an English statement that upholds one's thesis doesn't do any legwork as far as turning over the evidence garnered from the Greek text. The evidence that Svendsen brings forward stands or falls on its own.

(2) Bring up irrelevant epistemological categories and caricature grammatical-historical analysis. "William of Malmesbury" provides a specific example:
If that's Step 1, then Step 2 might be divesting ourselves of the Modernistic-mechanistic theory of language that you mentioned. We would need particularly to dissociate that form of unbelieving rationalism from the grammatical-historical method of exegesis--which I am convinced is something else entirely than the theory that reduces the organic dynamism of living human communication to geometrical axioms and static grammar rules.

It is news to exegetes of the NT [or OT at that] that the grammatical-historical method of exegesis "reduces the organic dynamism of living human communication to geometrical axioms and static grammar rules." That certainly hasn't been my experience in studying the Biblical texts and the like.

The statement caricatures the grammatical-historical method because it implies that the text and language can be interpreted in robotic fashion. Again, the reader can refer to any Evangelical commentary on the Greek text [Cranfield on Romans, Fee on I Cor, Morris on John, etc] to see that is not the case.

Here's another caricature from "William of Malmesbury":
The reason I distinguished between Modernistic-mechanized exgesis and grammatical-historical exegesis is because I do not believe that the Reformers bequeathed to us a way of viewing the Scriptures that rips the Scriptures out of the organic context of the communio sanctorum, and instead of locking them up inside a Magisterium of unaccountable bishops locks them up with a clique of professional technician-scientists who alone know all the secret grammar passwords to unlock the very fabric of reality in ways the unenlightened cannot. That's a bit of hyperbole, but I'm trying to make a point about Modern corruptions of Reformation principles and practices.


This rather speaks for itself! I'd enjoy seeing WoM say such things in a rigorous seminary class, "a bit of hyperbole" notwithstanding!

(3) Psychologize, psychologize, psychologize!! "Retro Rosco III" provides an example here:
It's interesting that Svendsen spills so much ink on the PVM. It's just another example that his ideas are based more on knee-jerk anti-Catholicism than on substance.

There is apparently no argument here, as a thesis can be waived away based on perceived knee-jerk anti-whatever.

(4) Waive away grammar and syntax, act as if the simple act of reading the text requires specialists, and let one's a priori ideas of "what must be" shape the conclusion.

As an example: in response to the statement that "Protestants shape our theology around what the words actually say," Theophan states:
But that is an error. To imagine that the Lord Jesus Christ left us to the mercy of self-styled specialists, and that his Gospel is available to us only in as much as we can analyze minute grammatical details and make our own determination what they must mean, is preposterous. Preposterous! And fundamentally corrupt. As Greg suggested, I can assure you that this will never even get a yawn from Catholic or Orthodox theologians.


Again, any sort of argument is missing.

On a separate note, this is what I perceive to be the key difference between myself and Romanist/Orthodox people: I do not lack confidence in the ability to read a text, Biblical or not. On the other hand, they seem to obtain a shrinking violet complex when encountering a Biblical text.

I say this because, in RC polemical arguments, the expectation by the RC polemicist is that we're supposed to be able to read a certain church father and see that, yes, the RC is making a good point there. But, when something that I cite from the Biblical text is given, it seems to be the case that we can't understand in the normal fashion.

(5) Implicate scholarship to "get at" somebody. "Philvaz" at the end of a long thread states:
Svendsen can take his exegesis and anti-Marian interpretations and pseudo-scholarship and throw them in the trash, and set it on fire. Thank you. That's my view and I'm sticking to it.

Apparently the people who approved Svendsen's dissertation can't tell scholarship from pseudo-scholarship, says "Philvaz."

(6) Let a certain measure of popularity arbitrate a dispute. More from "Philvaz":
And one thing I've wondered, why does Svendsen's board have only 300+ members when Catholic Answers boards have 25,000 if his brand of evangelicalism is so true? He needs better P.R. or something.

These are the sorts of statements that you can make at a Catholic message board, and it shows a certain type of Roman Catholic internet apologetics mentality. Why even bother making an argument if, at the end, one can point to a numerical majority?

Conclusion

Basically, the thread cited above doesn't amount to much more than a cheerleading session, or, even better, a "Five Minute Hate" session [stealing an Orwell term]. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, or Ecumenicals, one would hope, could do better than this.

3 Comments:

Blogger centuri0n said...

I am certainly going to miss you as you move west, and if you're driving through AR to get home, I'd love to buy you lunch just to say that I did -- and also because I believe in honest hopitality. I happen to know of a nice Chinese Buffet ...

The other thing I wanted to say was that people who get bored by exegesis of a foreign language are always the same people who can't follow an argument or a thrain of thought in their own language. Critical reading is almost a lost art, but that's another rant for another day.

Drive safe.

Monday, July 04, 2005 2:56:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Fear not, Frank! The pedantry will resume full-bore. Behold, I am coming soon, though not through AR, and not through the clouds, either.

If you need entertainment, go check out Narcissus' latest self-absorbed drama queen act. Now *that* is entertainment on a budget!

As for the drive out to CA, it should be a pleasant though long drive, so long as nothing goes wrong with the PP-mobile [and there is no reason to think anything will go wrong]. Maybe a Roman Catholic internet apologist might put a banana in the tailpipe, but I know their wiles.

You have a great "intertestamental" period yourself!

PP

Monday, July 04, 2005 3:17:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Enloe said...

Of course, you are not guilty of "waving things away" in your remarks about my remarks. "Irrelevant epistemological categories and caricaturing grammatical historical exegesis", you say. Pish tosh. The caricature of G-H exegesis is found in seminary graduates who haven't the slightest idea about why you can't reduce everything to texts, and why texts themselves can't be reduced to the sum of their grammatical features. You'd like to see me say some of this hyperbole of mine in seminary class, you say. Yeah, right. If it was a good seminary class, and the professor and students not a bunch of overwrought polemicists trying to prove they are better and more pure than others, and who had half a clue about anything outside of parsing participles, such hyperbole would not be necessary. I'd love to sit in a seminary class with someone like Vern Poythress, for instance, who actually has half an idea what exegesis is--especially in terms of the extra-textual factors that affect everything BEFORE any participles are even parsed.

Saturday, July 09, 2005 12:35:00 PM  

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