Is "blasphemy against the holy spirit" a Markan invention?

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Secret Alias
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Re: Is "blasphemy against the holy spirit" a Markan invention?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:07 am

In fact, if you really think about it. Taking Clement's statements (outside of the Letter to Theodore) at face value. You have Peter who was 'there' with Peter have a gospel (whether or oral or written let's leave aside). Mark wrote a version of that gospel. It is valid or authoritative even though it didn't get the approval of its alleged 'source' Peter. Then you have Matthew and Luke (at least from the perspective of an orthodox living in the late second century). They are also 'spiritual products' related to Mark and thus Peter. The fact that there is a blaspheming the Holy Spirit 'clause' in all of these gospels made questioning their mutual relationship a grave sin. These lines of scripture may have been more responsible for the development of 'gospels' (or many texts being read as one gospel) than any other source. It would be interesting to see how these verses were applied by Church Fathers and specifically whether they were employed to condemn those who question the veracity of scripture and most notably the gospels themselves.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Stefan Kristensen
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Re: Is "blasphemy against the holy spirit" a Markan invention?

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 16, 2018 3:17 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:27 am
Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:07 am
I don't think the bit in the Didache is 'an explanation after the fact'. Rather, I think it helps to back up my proposition, that there is an explanation to be found within gMark for the graveness, and that this explanation also applies perfectly to Did 11:7. What the scribes are doing is denying Jesus' divine authority which is evidenced by his deeds of the spirit. What Did 11:7 is talking about is denying the divine authority of the prophets which is evidenced by their deeds of the spirit: cf. 11:8-12.
Why does denying the divine authority of Jesus or of the prophets amount to the one and only unforgivable sin? Why not, say, suggest that killing the son of God is unforgivable?
I have addressed this in my arguments in my last two-three posts, I believe. But let me just repeat here one conclusion from them at least: The latter (killing the son of God) can quite possibly be regarded as being framed by Mark as a case of the former (denying Jesus' authority), according to my understanding.
But yes, there is a sense in which I discard your arguments "without further ado," because if my guess is correct, then your guess hardly matters for the issue which I am investigating. That is, if the notion of the unforgivable sin was initially formulated in order to protect the prophets of the church from criticism, then any and all theological explanations for why that sin must be regarded as unforgivable are, by definition, rationalizations after the fact. Those theological explanations are ruled out as the reason why the rule was created in the first place.
Define "hardly". My experience with this discussion has felt like something to the effect: 'I have a better explanation for the meaning of the text than your explanation, so I don't even need to know your explanation'.

I can't escape thinking, that you are discarding any need to investigate the text to see whether there is a meaning in the text (i.e. a theological rationale), because you have already decided that there is not - without investigating the text.

You seem to rule out the possibility, that any theological explanation for the origin of the saying can better help to explain its origin (in this case, with Mark) than the explanation for its origin that you adhere to now. And you don't think that investigating the text can contribute anything to determine the origin of the saying, no matter what you might discover in the text?

For me, the explanation that I believe I may have found is so strong that it by itself weakens the idea that Mark 3:29 is secondary to its context. But of course, that explanation of mine also builds on certain understandings of mine that we have agreed to disagree upon, so I could never convince you of it anyway.
A fit analogy might be Paul's theological and scriptural reasoning for believers supporting their leaders financially in 1 Corinthians 9.7-12. If the poster named Robert J. on this forum is correct in one of his more extreme views, then Paul's entire enterprise was basically a moneymaking scheme, and any and all theological reasoning for the necessity of financial support for one's spiritual leaders thus falls into the "after the fact" category. The real reason for the theologizing would be the monetary scheme, the actual theological reasons given being afterthoughts. I happen not to agree with Robert J. on this point, by the way, at least not yet; I suspect that Paul was sincere in his endeavor overall. But I readily admit that Robert's hypothesis undercuts mine in the sense that, if his is correct, then all of my speculations about the theological concerns lying behind the Pauline concept of monetary support for spiritual leadership become instantly secondary to the true historical origins of the "rule" that people ought to give money to their leaders. As soon as Robert is deemed correct, it is no longer a matter of Paul meditating on the scriptures one fine morning and coming to the unbiased conclusion that financial support for one's leaders is the divine will; rather, the primary motivation was personal gain, not scriptural authority.
Within this analogy, what I'm interested in are these 'afterthoughts', i.e. the meaning which is intended to be communicated in the text itself. Of course, if the historical question of the "real reason" behind the theologizing might help me understand this theologizing, then it's important to me. (I'm also interested in the historical questions, let me set that straight, but my main interest is the intended meaning in the texts.)

That said, and quite independently from how my guess undercuts yours, I also think that my guess is a better guess than yours on its own merits, at least partly because it is easier to deduce my point from Didache 11.7 than it is to deduce yours from the entirety of the gospel of Mark. There is less guesswork involved in suggesting, based on Didache 11.7, that spiritual leaders might be protecting themselves from criticism, because that kind of self interest is a universal human experience not dependent upon any particular theological concern.
Now, this can hardly be any argument! Easier for whom?

How can you deem that my arguments constitute 'more' guesswork, if you say you havn't even understood them to begin with? Anyway, it's clear to me that you havn't understood my arguments, and I guess I understand that, because I do see a whole theological structure beneath the text of gMark that you don't, and my arguments depend on that larger structure. And maybe it doesn't even make real sense for you to engage with my arguments, unless I lay out this whole understanding first.
Okay, so here you are seeking the theological rationale of the saying.
I am and every other interpreter ever.
I do not believe this to be true. I believe J. D. Crossan, for example, agrees with the basic trajectory I have sketched out, and there is no theological rationalization necessary.
If Crossan is sketching out a historical trajectory for the origin of something in the text, he's doing it as a historian not a interpreter. Interpreters arrive at an interpretation, not a historical trajectory.
I'm posing this question as an exegete, not as a believer. I don't know what I should call myself, but I'm not the least religious in any way, so there.
I apologize. I did not originally take you to be religious, but the way you were writing in that last post was so consistently eliminating the middleman that it sounded like you were trying to discern God's will. I was not sure how to respond.
No need to apologize, Ben, I don't consider it a sin to be religious, I like to sing psalms now and then, also when it's not at Christmas!
... but again, it seemed right from the start to me that an entire theological template had been laid out over Mark from above, forging connections and propositions that never probably occurred to Mark himself.
Fair enough, but believe me when I say, I have serious arguments for this whole template to be there, but it really is a grander enterprise to lay that whole thing out first. I guess I thought that we would be more on the same page in this regard, than it turned out.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Is "blasphemy against the holy spirit" a Markan invention?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:16 pm

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 3:17 pm
Define "hardly". My experience with this discussion has felt like something to the effect: 'I have a better explanation for the meaning of the text than your explanation, so I don't even need to know your explanation'.

I can't escape thinking, that you are discarding any need to investigate the text to see whether there is a meaning in the text (i.e. a theological rationale), because you have already decided that there is not - without investigating the text.
No, no, not at all, and I apologize for giving that impression. Recall that I read and reread and rereread your long response to me, delaying a response for more than a month, before concluding:
I have been wanting to return to this thread, but I am finding that we may share too little common ground to make further discussion profitable, at least at this time.
Nothing has changed since then. I still think that we share too little common ground. I have been trying to answer your questions and clear up any misunderstandings, but still, when I read your grand explanation, it sounds to me like theological speculation that Mark himself probably never envisioned.
You seem to rule out the possibility, that any theological explanation for the origin of the saying can better help to explain its origin (in this case, with Mark) than the explanation for its origin that you adhere to now. And you don't think that investigating the text can contribute anything to determine the origin of the saying, no matter what you might discover in the text?
None of that rings true for me. I do not think I am guilty of any of it. I may well be guilty of being unable to parse your explanation fully enough to benefit from it. But I do not think I have blithely skipped over it.
For me, the explanation that I believe I may have found is so strong that it by itself weakens the idea that Mark 3:29 is secondary to its context. But of course, that explanation of mine also builds on certain understandings of mine that we have agreed to disagree upon, so I could never convince you of it anyway.
Yes, I think that is where we are, and have been ever since you fielded the explanation. There are parts of your explanation that depend on things I disagree with on other grounds, and there are parts that I do not understand, at least not well enough to endorse as my own new view. And the very few parts I feel I do understand (enough to register my disagreement, at any rate) I may be wrong about.
Now, this can hardly be any argument! Easier for whom?
Easier for me, obviously, though I may well not be alone. I have to convince myself that an hypothesis is viable (or at least more viable than a competing hypothesis).
How can you deem that my arguments constitute 'more' guesswork, if you say you haven't even understood them to begin with?
They constitute more guesswork on my part, at least. I am left muttering to myself, "Well, I guess Mark may have intended 'blasphemy of the spirit' to be unclear as a phrase, one that we have to do mountains of work to understand on any level; and I guess Mark may think of the spirit as something/someone which nobody would ordinarily consider eligible to be blasphemed; and I guess Mark's explanatory comment might have been intended to link the parts of the sandwich but not the two lines between which it actually falls, verses 29 and 30." But "blasphemy of the spirit" makes perfect sense to me on its own merits, as the sum of its parts, and I never would have thought the spirit ineligible to be blasphemed, and the connection between verses 29 and 30 seems deliberate, ...so where does that leave me?
Anyway, it's clear to me that you haven't understood my arguments, and I guess I understand that, because I do see a whole theological structure beneath the text of gMark that you don't, and my arguments depend on that larger structure. And maybe it doesn't even make real sense for you to engage with my arguments, unless I lay out this whole understanding first.
This is close to what I was trying to say when I said I felt like an entire construct was being imposed upon Mark from without, and when I said that we shared too little common ground. If your arguments depend upon a larger structure of thought, one with which I am not familiar, then of course I may fail to understand them when applied to a very specific situation like this.
If Crossan is sketching out a historical trajectory for the origin of something in the text, he's doing it as a historian not a interpreter. Interpreters arrive at an interpretation, not a historical trajectory.
I am not accustomed to this very limited application of the term "interpret," to be frank. To my mind, historians are interpreters of the past; they also interpret sources (primary, secondary, and so on). This terminology is used of historians very frequently, and I have never thought to limit the term "interpretation" to a literary or (much less) theological enterprise only:

Martha Howell and Walter Prevenier, From Reliable Sources, page 69: Typically, historians do not rely on just one source to study an event or a historical process, but on many, and they construct their own interpretations about the past by means of comparison among sources—by sifting information contained in many sources, by listening to many voices. [Howell and Prevenier also, on page 64, lists the "interpretation of the document" as one of the chief elements of source criticism.]

Louis Gottschalk, Understanding History, pages 115-117: In general, the rule regarding time-lapse as applied to secondary sources is the reverse of that rule as applied to primary sources. The further away secondary sources are in time from the events of which they tell, the more reliable they are likely to be. That is true not only because impartiality and detachment are easier for remote periods of history, but also because as time elapses, more materials are likely to become available. In addition, the last writer has the help of the materials and interpretations contained in the earlier studies of his subject. Unfortunately, later historians are not always as competent as earlier ones. All too frequently they are just hack-writers, content merely with "re-hashing" the earlier works without presenting new evidence or points of view.

Gilbert J. Garraghan, A Guide to Historical Method, page 153: An intelligent use of hypothesis conditions all progress in scientific research. As a rule it is only by thinking out various likely explanations of a phenomenon, by testing them one after the other, and rejecting such as are unsatisfactory, that the true explanation is finally brought to light. This is the course pursued by the physicist and other specialists in the natural sciences; it is a necessary procedure in the social sciences as well. Historical hypothesis may be applied not merely to the data supplied from sources, but to the sources themselves in the whole range of problems which they present, such as authorship, textual integrity, interpretation, trustworthiness.

Phyllis J. Schantz, The First Grade Studies in Retrospect, page 64: A historian is more than a chronicler; a historian is an interpreter of the meaning of the past....

Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:22 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Charles Wilson
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Re: Is "blasphemy against the holy spirit" a Markan invention?

Post by Charles Wilson » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:28 pm

May I interrupt for a moment? I'm not even gonna go all Domitian 'n all that stuff. Doesn't get any traction here anyway.

There's another verse (or 2) that figures into this:

Mark 3: 29 - 30 (RSV):

[29] but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" --
[30] for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

Compare with:

John 2: 19 - 21 (RSV):

[19] Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
[20] The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"
[21] But he spoke of the temple of his body.

Verse 21 has generated all kinds of mischief. "So Jesus is...FORTY SIX YEARS OLD???" *

It appears that at the End of John's Redactions someone had to tie up loose ends and had to insert verse 21, lest someone else figures it out. It appears to be an insertion.

So we get back to Mark and we might as well add verse 28:

[28] "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter

With this idea, we see that some spoil sport has to add something, as in John. "You can't just let EVER'BODY in for Chris'sake!!!" There is something of a Deep Structure to this as well:

"ALL sins will be forgiven..."
"Even Melvin's? He once said..."
"Yes...Even Melvin's"
...
"WAYDAMMINIT! The Holy Spirit is PERFECT! If you utter a Slur against the HS, then there is a Logical Tie between the Slur and the HS and that cannot be!!" By the mere assertion that the HS is Unclean, the HS cannot be Clean.

This deserves some more unpacking but the implication here is that the Entities are Perfect. Even "Jesus":

1 Peter 3: 22 (RSV):

[22] He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips.

So we pull back to Mark 3 and we find:

"for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

WHO HAS THE UNCLEAN SPIRIT? "HE". Who is "HE"?

[22] And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Be-el'zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons."

It is "Jesus" who is possessed by the Unclean Spirit, according to the Scribes. The claim is not made against the Holy Spirit! Are the Scribes aware that there IS a Holy Spirit? I don't think so, though Theologically, we have the afternoon and night blocked out for discussion.

Verse 29 reveals itself as addition. It's purpose for being is to deflect from a shorter Original.

Mark 1: 8 (RSV):

[8] I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

Of course, this is immediately forgotten, since, in the Hillbilly Country of old, only the Baptism of John is known.
"Holy Spirit? Never heard of 'im. Whas'ee look like?"
The "Holy Spirit" is added.

CW

* This "...46 years..." goes back to the ascension of Herod. The Priest is stating that Herod can be overthrown. This Story is dated to 8/9 CE.

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Re: Is "blasphemy against the holy spirit" a Markan invention?

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:49 am

Charles Wilson wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:28 pm
May I interrupt for a moment? I'm not even gonna go all Domitian 'n all that stuff. Doesn't get any traction here anyway.

There's another verse (or 2) that figures into this:

Mark 3: 29 - 30 (RSV):

[29] but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" --
[30] for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

Compare with:

John 2: 19 - 21 (RSV):

[19] Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
[20] The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"
[21] But he spoke of the temple of his body.

Verse 21 has generated all kinds of mischief. "So Jesus is...FORTY SIX YEARS OLD???" *

It appears that at the End of John's Redactions someone had to tie up loose ends and had to insert verse 21, lest someone else figures it out. It appears to be an insertion.

So we get back to Mark and we might as well add verse 28:

[28] "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter

With this idea, we see that some spoil sport has to add something, as in John. "You can't just let EVER'BODY in for Chris'sake!!!" There is something of a Deep Structure to this as well:

"ALL sins will be forgiven..."
"Even Melvin's? He once said..."
"Yes...Even Melvin's"
...
"WAYDAMMINIT! The Holy Spirit is PERFECT! If you utter a Slur against the HS, then there is a Logical Tie between the Slur and the HS and that cannot be!!" By the mere assertion that the HS is Unclean, the HS cannot be Clean.

This deserves some more unpacking but the implication here is that the Entities are Perfect. Even "Jesus":

1 Peter 3: 22 (RSV):

[22] He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips.

So we pull back to Mark 3 and we find:

"for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

WHO HAS THE UNCLEAN SPIRIT? "HE". Who is "HE"?

[22] And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Be-el'zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons."

It is "Jesus" who is possessed by the Unclean Spirit, according to the Scribes. The claim is not made against the Holy Spirit! Are the Scribes aware that there IS a Holy Spirit? I don't think so, though Theologically, we have the afternoon and night blocked out for discussion.

Verse 29 reveals itself as addition. It's purpose for being is to deflect from a shorter Original.

Mark 1: 8 (RSV):

[8] I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

Of course, this is immediately forgotten, since, in the Hillbilly Country of old, only the Baptism of John is known.
"Holy Spirit? Never heard of 'im. Whas'ee look like?"
The "Holy Spirit" is added.

CW

* This "...46 years..." goes back to the ascension of Herod. The Priest is stating that Herod can be overthrown. This Story is dated to 8/9 CE.
Well, it's possible that those are insertions, but I think we must definately think that the scribes and all the other Jews in the stories know the existence of the holy spirit? And if so, we must also think that they would never in their lives even consider for a second speaking badly about it.It also appears in Scripture. Consider Ps 51 in connection with Mark 1:4-11.

You point to some important aspects of the incident in Mark 3, I think:
They are indeed levelling an accusation against Jesus, but Jesus makes it about the HS, not him. Cf. Matt 12:32: "Whoever speaks a word against the son of man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks a word against the holy spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."

I.e.:
'I think that Jesus guy is full of shit' (he's slandering Jesus)
'You're wrong, he is the messiah with authority from God, because I have seen the evidence in the miracles he's doing'
'Oh, that, that's nothing, it's the work of the devil, therefore that doesn't prove he's the messiah' (now he's "slandering the HS")
'Really? Wow, ok, thanks.' (his soul will perish now because he doesn't have faith in Jesus, because his friend "slandered the holy spirit", i.e the deeds of Jesus, not Jesus himself: the tree must be known by its fruits, Matt 12:33, in Jesus' case, 'the fruits of the spirit')


And the slandering the scribes are doing, like this bad friend above, is not the straightforward sense of the concept, it is some kind of indirect, unintentional slandering, where they don't intend to slander the holy spirit, they don't even know they're doing it.

I mean, "slandering the holy spirit" in the straightforward sense would be:
'Hey guys, I saw Melvin being cured from lameness yesterday by the holy spirit, but let me tell you, the holy spirit sucks big time'

However, the act of "slandering the holy spirit" that we find in Mark 3 is this:
'Hey guys, I saw an unclean spirit cure Melvin from lameness yesterday, and by the way, the holy spirit is God's perfect spirit, praise be to it''

Mark is saying that this latter act of "slandering the holy spirit" is unforgivable. But they don't even know they have done it! So by the very logic of Mark 3:22-30 this has to :
If you want to avoid committing the unforgivable sin, then make sure that you don't utter your opinion that Jesus' exorcisms are done by an unclean spirit. If you simply hold that opinion within yourself, but not utter it, then you can be fine, God can forgive you in the end somehow. Because slander is by definition an act of expression not of thinking, so merely holding the opinion is not part of this definition of the unforgivable sin.

That's one reason I think my understanding of 3:29 is viable: There is only one way people can come to faith, and that is by the expressions of the holy spirit (in this case Jesus' exorcisms). It is this expression that can potentially make people come to faith as they are convinced when see/hear that expression. God's plan is a game of convincing minds, 'sowing the Word'. Therefore the unforgivable sin is a counter-expression to the expressions of the holy spirit. By annulling the effect which the expressions of the holy spirit has on the minds of the onlookers/hearers, you are causing their souls to perish forever.

Now, can one imagine commiting a sin worse than that? Causing your neighbour's soul to perish in hell? Isn't that worse than, say, killing your neighbor? Absolutely, because that's just killing the flehsly body, who cares. There is no greater sin than causing your neighbour's soul to perish forever, how can you harm your neighbour more than that? Can't be done, that's the greatest harm, i.e. sin, which the humans are capable of doing (cf. "the sons of men", Mark 3:28). Who cares about the fleshly body and all the harm you can do to your neighbour, i.e. sin, which only has to do only with earthly, corruptible things. Humans cannot kill other humans' souls, they can only harm eachother's outer beings. Except, now with the coming of Jesus, the commencement of God's salvation scheme, you can cause your fellow human's soul to be killed by God. That's some power all of a sudden! The stakes have been raised, be careful you don't do that now!

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?
Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?
(Mark 8:35-37)


Matt 10,28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.


Stefan Kristensen
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Re: Is "blasphemy against the holy spirit" a Markan invention?

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:14 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:16 pm
Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 3:17 pm
Define "hardly". My experience with this discussion has felt like something to the effect: 'I have a better explanation for the meaning of the text than your explanation, so I don't even need to know your explanation'.

I can't escape thinking, that you are discarding any need to investigate the text to see whether there is a meaning in the text (i.e. a theological rationale), because you have already decided that there is not - without investigating the text.
No, no, not at all, and I apologize for giving that impression. Recall that I read and reread and rereread your long response to me, delaying a response for more than a month, before concluding:
I have been wanting to return to this thread, but I am finding that we may share too little common ground to make further discussion profitable, at least at this time.
Well, you're right, that is true. I'd like to discuss that ground more at some time, I guess. Because, for my part, at least we do have enough common ground to make your ever critical assessments of some of my ideas of huge value to me, even when we end up not agreeing about anything.
If Crossan is sketching out a historical trajectory for the origin of something in the text, he's doing it as a historian not a interpreter. Interpreters arrive at an interpretation, not a historical trajectory.
I am not accustomed to this very limited application of the term "interpret," to be frank. To my mind, historians are interpreters of the past; they also interpret sources (primary, secondary, and so on). This terminology is used of historians very frequently, and I have never thought to limit the term "interpretation" to a literary or (much less) theological enterprise only:

Martha Howell and Walter Prevenier, From Reliable Sources, page 69: Typically, historians do not rely on just one source to study an event or a historical process, but on many, and they construct their own interpretations about the past by means of comparison among sources—by sifting information contained in many sources, by listening to many voices. [Howell and Prevenier also, on page 64, lists the "interpretation of the document" as one of the chief elements of source criticism.]

Louis Gottschalk, Understanding History, pages 115-117: In general, the rule regarding time-lapse as applied to secondary sources is the reverse of that rule as applied to primary sources. The further away secondary sources are in time from the events of which they tell, the more reliable they are likely to be. That is true not only because impartiality and detachment are easier for remote periods of history, but also because as time elapses, more materials are likely to become available. In addition, the last writer has the help of the materials and interpretations contained in the earlier studies of his subject. Unfortunately, later historians are not always as competent as earlier ones. All too frequently they are just hack-writers, content merely with "re-hashing" the earlier works without presenting new evidence or points of view.

Gilbert J. Garraghan, A Guide to Historical Method, page 153: An intelligent use of hypothesis conditions all progress in scientific research. As a rule it is only by thinking out various likely explanations of a phenomenon, by testing them one after the other, and rejecting such as are unsatisfactory, that the true explanation is finally brought to light. This is the course pursued by the physicist and other specialists in the natural sciences; it is a necessary procedure in the social sciences as well. Historical hypothesis may be applied not merely to the data supplied from sources, but to the sources themselves in the whole range of problems which they present, such as authorship, textual integrity, interpretation, trustworthiness.

Phyllis J. Schantz, The First Grade Studies in Retrospect, page 64: A historian is more than a chronicler; a historian is an interpreter of the meaning of the past....

Well, I was not trying to express some kind of official definition, just saying that I wish to find the intended meaning in the text, and therefore it shouldn't surprise you that in this instance I was seeking the 'theological rationale' for the saying in the text by interpretation of the text. A historian can certainly also be an interpreter who interprets for example textual sources. And I think that any interpreter of the NT texts also has to act historian. It's the interpretation part itself that interests me the most. My field of interest is more 'synchronic' (textual meaning) whereas yours is more 'diachronic' (textual history), I guess one could say.

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