Friday, June 22, 2012

May-June 2012 E-Block

The Paul Fan Club II, Part 3 -- We continue our look at the exceptionally long-winded (and poorly supported) Questioning Paul by Winn. This time it's chapters 6-8. Thankfully there are only 4 more chapters to go. Reading Winn is like hitting yourself with a lead porcupine. The most amusing note is at the very start:

We had noted in a past entry that Winn, while recognizing correctly that "faith" is not merely belief, but more like trust (actually, loyalty), he nevertheless fails to grant this proper meaning when Paul uses the word, and insists that Paul uses it to mean "belief". Indeed, he has the nerve to go as far as saying Paul changed the lexicon and caused pistis to evolve from "trust" to "belief," from "reliance" to "faith." Since this definition did not appear in the first century anyway, and would not appear for centuries, this is nonsensical to start; but even worse is Winn's justification for this misreading: 

I say this because Paul never once provides the kind of evidence which would be required for someone to know Yahweh or understand His plan of salvation well enough to trust God or rely upon the Way.
 
Of course, Paul would have provided such evidence long before he wrote his letters; the message of the Resurrection (cf. 1 Cor. 15) would have been preached many years before as the basis for faith. So pointing out that Paul "never provides evidence" is a misdirected objection, and this even more so in Paul's high-context social setting, where background knowledge by his readers would be assumed anyway. 

Thus Winn's only reason for tendentiously transforming Pauline pistis is a failure, and his efforts to critique Paul thereafter on this basis also fail. It speaks for itself that he admits, the things Paul wrote which would otherwise be accurate if "faith" is properly defined. In short, he admits he has to forcibly re-interpret "faith" in a way entirely foreign to its linguistic and social contexts in order to get Paul to say things which he can condemn. 

Mythicism Out in the Wash, Redux, Part 2 -- We pick a few more items to revisit from Earl Doherty's Jesus Neither God Nor Man: His "Disneyland Palestine" argument, the phrase "according to the Scriptures," the Last Supper reference in 1 Cor., and Hebrews 8:4. The verdict: Little or nothing new and nothing to defend against our own replies to Doherty. It's not hard to see why Doherty will never get taken seriously by real scholarship.

Priceless Brotherhood -- I start a look at arguments from Robert Price's The Christ Myth and Its Problems. Here, I check on his outlandish efforts to defuse the "James brother of Jesus" references -- which include such boners as appealing to an alleged (but actually, contrary for him) parallel to the claims of a 19th century Chinese revolutionary. If Price strains any harder he'll break the Earth's crust and form a volcano at Johnnie Coleman U.

The Seal of Confession -- some original (for me) research on the Catholic doctrine of absolute secrecy for those who confess sins. This took a long time -- it was a special research project for a reader -- and I found the arguments used by proponents a little disturbing at times, and highly contrived at other times.

Journey Through Orthodoxy, Part 3 -- I check out Michael Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, which provided me with some serious points of disagreement. A dialogue with an Orthodox reader also continues.

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