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Old 04-02-2001, 12:59 PM   #21
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Spider:

Ok, I am not going to argue in favor of Spong's point of view. (Personally, I have liked a lot of what he has written. While I have not agreed with all he has proposed, he has challenged me to re-think my positions.) He does make a strong case for the position that Judas is a literary figure and not a historical person. And Mendeh can read "Liberating the Gospels: Looking at the Bible through Jewish Eyes" and make his own conclusions.</font>
I'm not going to speak for Ish, but I would have to agree that John Shelby Spong is definitely not a true scholar. His basic understanding of Scripture is so bad that most other scholars (and certainly not just the fundamentalist kind) do not treat him very kindly.

"Some (members of the Jesus Seminar) are not formally scholars, e.g. Episcopal Bishop John Spon, whose works stripping Jesus of christology L.T. Johnson, Real Jesus, treats under the heading of "Amateur Night." In Birth of the Messiah 702-4 I (Brown) comment on Spong's Born of a Woman (San Fransiso: Harper, 1992), including the observation , "I do not think that a single NT author would recognize Spong's Jesus as the figure being proclaimed or written about." G. O'Collins (Tablet 248 [1994], 529-30), in a withering review of Spong's Resurrection: Myth or Reality? (San Fransisco: HarperCollins 1994), points out extraordinary inaccuracies and ends: "My advice for his next book... is to let some real experts check the text before publication."
(Raymond Brown, Introduction to the New Testament, [New York: Doubleday, 1996], pg. 822, n. 11)


Sadly, Spong, like Doherty, Freke, Grandy, Wells and the like is a popularizing amateur that spreads the worst forms of tripe.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">That thing I really bring up is how you flat-out deny that Spong is a scholar? On what grounds do you make this assertation?</font>
You may want to read up on this from the site:

What's Wrong With Bishop Spong?

The site quotes from a good number of actual scholars as to what they think about Spong's scholarship.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So maybe his ideas aren't accepted by a good portion of the Christian Theological world, but you have to give the man some amount of respect when the amount of books and articles contained in the bibliography and works cited page of "Liberating the Gospels. . " is bigger that most of the home libraries of people on this board. When you add together all the works he has read through for research for all of his books and articles, one can hardly not call this man a scholar.</font>
Fortunately the quantity of what one writes does not directly bear on one's actual level of scholarship. The real test is the quality of his or her work, and here Bishop Spong is sadly lacking.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You can call him a scholar that you don't agree with. One can still be scholar and have his/her work rejected by many people because the points he/she advocates. That rejection does not in any fashion invalidate the work that went into researching ones' conclusions.</font>
While this is correct, Spong's basic understanding of the Bible and current scholarship is so woefully lacking as to make anything he produces highly suspect. he may be a good man. He may (and should) be commended for standing up to the worst forms of bigotry and racism in the United States. But he is, quite simply, not a qualified authority on the Bible.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If the person's work is shoddy, or not well annotated or document. Then yes, by all means call their work unscholarly. However, Bishop Spong's work is neither. His many books and articles attest to this.</font>
Actually, no they don't.

For example, he says:

'I know of no one in the ranks of biblical scholarship' who thinks that John wrote the Fourth Gospel (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, p. 193)

If this is true, then he does not read enough. He could try Donald Guthrie, Daniel Wallace, J.A.T. Robinson and many others.

'I know of no reputable biblical scholar who takes these [Virgin] birth narratives literally' (RBF p. 215).

Again, Spong needs to read more. In addition to Wallace and Guthrie, Raymond Brown believes that Jesus was, indeed, born of a virgin. So does N.T. Wright. All of these men are quite respected in their field, and I am certain that they are not alone in their opinions.

Further, O'Collins points out that:

"The bibliography contains at least seven mistakes. In the book itself, numerous false references abound."
(Gerald O'Collins, Review of Resurrection: Myth or Reality, London Tablet (30 April 1994], pg. 6). O'Collins is Professor of Fundamental Theology, Gregorian University, Rome.

And from N.T. Wright, commenting on Spong's brutal misunderstanding of the wedding in Cana found in John's Gospel:

... Spong has not thought what it was like to live in peasant society in first century Galilee. There, in a small community, a wedding was a whole village affair, and quite probably a several-villages affair. Nazareth and Cana were close neighbours. It is highly likely that whole families in one village would go to a whole-family wedding in the next one. Not to see this is to betray a total lack of historical perspective. Upon such slender and anachronistic threads hang Spong's entire argument."
(N.T. Wright, Who was Jesus? [Great Britain: SPCK, 1992], pg. 90).


And what especially is Wright talking about here? Spong has claimed, in his book Born of a Woman that John was actually reporting Jesus' own wedding! Worst of all, he was doing this on the basis that he (Spong) would only attend a wedding with his mother if it was his own!

So Jesus, his four associates, and his mother are all at this wedding in Galilee near the village of Nazareth. When two generations are present at a wedding it is almost always a family affair. I have never attended a wedding with my mother except when it was the wedding of a relative. The only time my mother and my closest friends were at a wedding together was my own wedding!
...Is this an echo not fully suppressed of the tradition of Jesus' marriage...
(J.S. Spong, Born of a Woman, [San Fransisco: Harper, 1992], pg. 192)


Sheesh.

With howlers like this, it is not much wonder that Bishop Spong doesn't get much respect outside of liberal theological (and sympathetic sceptical) corners.

Just because some may like what the man has to say does not make him right. Not liking what he has to say doesn't necessarily make him wrong either. But based on many of the outrageous claims Spong makes, I think it is safe to confine him to the fringes of accepted and respectable sources.

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited April 02, 2001).]
 
Old 04-02-2001, 03:13 PM   #22
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Nomad, thanks. You said it all! The first italicized section was the quote I was going to post. Your other information is also excellent.

Spong may be a "scholar" in the technical sense of the word, but I don't think he is taken very seriously within his field.

As far as Earl Doherty, I can't even find much information about his credentials. It seems that he does not teach anywhere. If a serious scholar wanted to bother, I'm sure he could find numerous errors in Doherty's The Jesus Puzzle (heck, I found at least one, but at least it was noted at the end).

Anyway, I just wanted to comment on the number of disciples. People seem to think that it is an odd coincidence that Jesus had 12 disciples. I suppose you can make this seem concocted. However, I believe Jesus chose exactly 12 disciples in order to show "completeness" (yes, and to symbolically represent the 12 tribes of Israel). Why does this have to be myth? I think it is extrememely likely that this is exactly why he chose that number.

The problems only start happenning when people start saying that this or that event didn't really happen or this or that person didn't really exist. It just seems silly to me. One scholar will say Judas didn't exist. Another will say Paul didn't exist. Yet another will say Jesus didn't exist. To me this starts seeming like some sort of ploy to destroy the Bible and not true scholarship.

Please.... Is this guilty until proven innocent, or what?

Ish
 
Old 04-02-2001, 05:14 PM   #23
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Nomad: I'm not going to speak for Ish, but I would have to agree that John Shelby Spong is definitely not a true scholar. His basic understanding of Scripture is so bad that most other scholars (and certainly not just the fundamentalist kind) do not treat him very kindly.

You probably speak for many who possess a strong bias against anyone who does not agree with your collective position.

Also, I would be interested in your demonstrating the validity of your assertion that "John Shelby Spong is definitely not a true scholar."

rodahi

 
Old 04-02-2001, 06:21 PM   #24
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You may want to read up on this from the site:

What's Wrong With Bishop Spong?

The site quotes from a good number of actual scholars as to what they think about Spong's
scholarship.


This is dreck from answers-in-genesis, with the usual Reich wing nonsense. Do you have anything a little more objective? There is hardly anything substantial at this site, except for the usual apologists' defense of Creationism, and similar stuff. It's just fundamentalist crap we've read a thousand times.

Although the navigation and links are superb at that site, I must add.

Michael
 
Old 04-02-2001, 06:29 PM   #25
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When Nomad quoted from answersingenesis, my opinion of him plummeted.

Poor Mendeh - he just asked a simple question about literary interpretations in the gospel of Mark, and he stepped into the middle of a war. I hope he can find the answer to his questions.
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Old 04-02-2001, 07:17 PM   #26
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Really, isn't it a bit of a joke to use answersingenesis to claim that someone else isn't "a true scholar"?

Why don't we just declare that Nomad isn't "a true scholar" as an excuse not to consider his arguments? Oh, but then we'd be guilty of the ad hominem fallacy, wouldn't we?

[This message has been edited by DennisMcD (edited April 02, 2001).]
 
Old 04-02-2001, 07:49 PM   #27
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Hmmm... this is interesting. Did anyone actually REPLY to the things said against Spong? Did they DEFEND his work? Or did they mearly attack one of the sources (interestingly only one of them too. Do you know who the other scholars are BTW?)

Thanks guys. I knew I could count on your faith to save you.

Toodles.

Nomad
 
Old 04-02-2001, 07:56 PM   #28
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Hi Mendeh

Sorry about having to scold the kids, but they get like this sometimes.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Mendeh:

(1) I'm not suggesting that the disciples did not exist - I'm quite happy to accept that both Jesus and at least some of the 12 disciples really did exist. What I am interested in discussing is how the disciples - and other characters in the gospel of Mark - are used as literary devices to get across a point.</font>
The belief that Jesus deliberately chose 12 disciples, for example, to reflect the 12 tribes of Israel is pretty common, but doesn't really tell us much else. This can very often end up like trying to find some significance in every number reported in the Bible. What significance do you attach to the literary devices you believe exist in the Bible?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(2) After a conversation with my (Christian) father, it seems to me that there does seem to be some symbolism in the number of the disciples; the 12 disciples corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel.</font>
Yes.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(3) I'm not at all convinced about the Homer/Mark idea that has been propounded by some people - the Illiad and the Odyssey are huge books, and so I'd not be surprised if there are apparent parallels between Mark and Homer. Either way, it's not something that's particularly relavant to the debate - I'm interested in how characters (never mind if they're historical or not) are used by Mark to make his points.</font>
I agree.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad - I'd love to have a discussion with you on this, but preferably limited to Mark's gospel, at least until I have a chance to re-read the other three.</font>
Sounds cool. What have you been reading on the subject?

Nomad
 
Old 04-03-2001, 11:16 AM   #29
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Hi there, Nomad, nice to talk to you again.

I haven't been reading very much on the subject, to tell you the truth. I'll just give you a bit of background to why I'm asking the question, and we can take it from there.

For my GCSE in RE, Mark's gospel is studied and our knowledge and ability to interpret it tested in an exam.
However, as the study of ancient writings is something of a hobby of mine, I'm interested in looking at the gospel from Mark's point of view rather than the points of view of the characters inside it. In short, I want to see how Mark uses the characters (never mind whether they really existed or not) present in the gospel to get across doctrinal points. I chose the number of disciples to start with, just because it was a good example of the sort of thing I am looking for.

So the first thing I'd ask is this:

Let's start with the character of Legion (the one who's possessing demons Jesus sent into a herd of swine). What is the purpose for Mark including this in the gospel? Is it just to show the power of God present in Jesus? Or are all his traits (no chains can bind him, etc.) more allegorical than this?
 
Old 04-03-2001, 02:09 PM   #30
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Mendeh:

Hi there, Nomad, nice to talk to you again.</font>
Hi Mendeh. Likewise.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I haven't been reading very much on the subject, to tell you the truth. I'll just give you a bit of background to why I'm asking the question, and we can take it from there.

For my GCSE in RE, Mark's gospel is studied and our knowledge and ability to interpret it tested in an exam.
However, as the study of ancient writings is something of a hobby of mine, I'm interested in looking at the gospel from Mark's point of view rather than the points of view of the characters inside it. In short, I want to see how Mark uses the characters (never mind whether they really existed or not) present in the gospel to get across doctrinal points. I chose the number of disciples to start with, just because it was a good example of the sort of thing I am looking for.</font>
Alright, I am at work right now, so I cannot look up the specific references until later tonight, but let me recommend a book for you. It may be in your university library.

The Four Witnesses (Harper, San Francisco: 2000) ISBN: 0062516477. Griffith-Jones is a professor of NT studies at the University of Oxford (and an Anglican Priest), and this book is among the best literary studies I have ever seen on the Gospels. I think you would greatly enjoy it, and especially how Griffith-Jones examines the relationship of the authors to their respective communities and times. You will quickly see that he is no fundamentalist, and while I disagree with some of his conclusions I found the book to be a fascinating read.

For example, he argues that each Gospel was written to portray Jesus in a very unique way, tailor made to suit the conditions of the community reading it. Thus (as you will see from the subtitle), Jesus is shown as:

The Rebel (Mark), the Rabbi (Matthew), the Chronicler (Luke), and the Mystic (John).

I cannot recommend this book more highly (the only thing missing is a glossary and index, an unforgivable ommission in my view, but I think Griffith-Jones was deliberately aiming to make this NOT a scholarly, but more of an accessible book for lay people).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So the first thing I'd ask is this:

Let's start with the character of Legion (the one who's possessing demons Jesus sent into a herd of swine). What is the purpose for Mark including this in the gospel? Is it just to show the power of God present in Jesus? Or are all his traits (no chains can bind him, etc.) more allegorical than this?</font>
Let me dig into this a bit more tonight Mendeh, but I will say that Mark was, far more than any other evangelist, concerned primarily with showing Jesus' power. Interestingly, Griffith-Jones spends a good deal of time talking about Jesus' power, and especially that of exorcism and healing. The demon possessed man gets quite a bit of play, so I will look it up again, and let you know what I find out.

I will say, at this point, that I do not think that the choosing of the name "Legion" was coincidental. The occupation of Judaea by the Romans was a great sore point and constant source of national humiliation and shame to the Jews. The symbolic importance of the swine (a supremely unclean animal to Judaism) cannot be overlooked either.

Thanks for the chance to discuss this aspect of the Bible Mendeh. I hope we both learn something from it.

Peace,

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited April 03, 2001).]
 
 

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