Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

Post by Leucius Charinus »

@Mac

In order to demonstrate that I have some sort of a handle on what Bilby is talking about here is what the author writes about his classification of datasets.
MrMacSon wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 11:23 pm
Leucius Charinus wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 10:54 pm All good points but its a completely mixed bag of sources. These need to be identified and classified as they would be in any database. There are five kinds of sources ...
Bilby's not talking about what you imply you think he's talking about
When Bilby is restricting himself to Marcion he does not need these 5 classes of datasets. He only needs 3

How to Find and File Gospel Minority Reports
Bilby's PDF pages 65, 66
  • "What then challenges him is the conviction that, if only he is skillful enough, he will succeed in solving a puzzle that no one before has solved or solved so well. Many of the greatest scientific minds have devoted all of their professional attention to demanding puzzles of this sort."

    — Kuhn 38

History is written by the victors, except when it isn't, and multiple witnesses are more reliable than a single witness, except when they aren't.

Like many rules, these truisms have exceptions. Sometimes history is written by the losers, and most of the time history cannot and should not be boiled down to a simple game of winners and losers. Sometimes minority witnesses are the most reliable and least biased, and most of the time events cannot and should not be limited to testimonies, one of several types of data sources.

Text criticism inclines us to follow the above rules rigidly, rules incapable of uncovering strata that existed historically prior to the canonized textual formation. [46] Retrieving the earliest gospel strata requires making an art and a science out of finding and filing credible minority reports. To do so, we must make use of three main evidentiary sources, three types of datasets:

1. Patristic Polemical Testimonies. Our most important guidance to uncover the earliest gospel strata is embedded in patristic testimonies, not just to canonical scriptures, but most especially to the scriptures of their earliest opponents. Our quest for veracity has to wade through the vitriol. To borrow a saying from Robert Wilken, the early-orthodox were progressive, creating new syntheses, compromises, and solutions. Their opponents were sometimes the dogged traditionalists.

2. Extant Gospel Manuscripts. The manuscripts (including early translations and lectionaries) of Lk2 are crucial sources to find and file minority reports about Lk1. As Klinghardt has noted, over 75% of over 500 variants peculiar to Lk1 are attested as minority readings in the manuscripts of Lk2. [47] Caveat: collating gospel manuscripts without taking seriously the former and latter types of datasets is doomed to circular logic that does not open itself to the scientific reality of the historical data.

3. Neighboring Gospel Strata. We need to start thinking of each early gospel substratum as an evolutionary transition species. With a mere shoulder blade, a trained paleontologist can reconstruct an entire skeleton and make 3D visualizations of a newly discovered species. While textual DNA is inherently more susceptible to change and reorganization than biological DNA, the analogy is still useful. The more we can reconstruct the full breadth and detail of surrounding gospel strata, the easier it is to locate, sequence, and reconstruct each given stratum. To put it differently, we are very unlikely to find the earliest gospel compilations hiding in the ground of an archeological dig or in an unmarked manuscript on a library or monastery shelf, but data science makes it possible for us to clarify distinct substrata in comparison with their closest historical neighbors based not only on vocal patterns, but also patterns of sourcing, preservation, transformation, and transmission. The earliest gospel strata are preserved and audible (even as re-samplings) in later, better attested textual formations. Scholars only need to learn how to sample and restore these scientifically.

46 Matthias Klinghardt, "Marcion's Gospel and the New Testament: Catalyst or Consequence?" NTS 63 (2017) 318–23 at 322–23; doi.org/10.1017/S0028688516000461.

47 Ibid., 322.


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Irish1975
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

Post by Irish1975 »

Bilby participated in the forum back in 2020, as some may recall. This was his first post:
vocesanticae wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:17 pm Saw a lot of web traffic to my blog coming from this thread, so here I am. Happy to verify my identity in any number of ways, including by writing in the next update/upload to my Gospel of the Poor book or my blogs something funny or cute that Giuseppe asks (within reason, of course).

Any questions I can answer? Problems with my methods or proofs in my book that I can address in the book itself? (Because I am treating it as an iterative Open Science publication to start, complete with hypotheses, scientific method, and lots of scientific proofs, I can make adjustments, corrections, retractions, etc., in the book as it evolves. Which is but to say, I'm sure I've made lots of errors, and I'm more than happy to correct them to improve the book. I'm committed to this work enacting a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement, rather than silly academic gotcha games.
The important information I got from his video with Jacob—the Marcion section starts at around the 37:55 timestamp—is the confirmation that The Evangelion was the source for canonical Luke, and not vice versa. His method and his results are super important! Unfortunately a lot of what he has to say is inflected by excessively confident opinions about a supposed early Jesus movement, and about things like class and gender bias among modern NT scholars :goodmorning: . Which is to say, he wants a job, and is speaking to the job market. Nothing wrong with that per se. But, for example, his tirade against using “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John”, outside of church or evangelicalism, as convenient labels for the texts that we receive under those names, is excessive. I don’t see the need to insult one another’s intelligence quite so much. Yes they are the received, canonical titles, and that’s important for understanding the canonical edition of the 2nd century (which Beduhn, Ehrman, and many categorically refuse to acknowledge); but that doesn’t mean that we are speaking hagiographically when we refer to “Mark’s Gospel,” etc. This all makes for some annoying confusion in his presentation when he starts citing “LK1” and “LK2”, etc. It’s at least bad communication strategy.

In general, when Bilby takes a gimmicky position like renaming the Marcionite Gospel “The Gospel of the Poor” (meaning what, exactly?), he’s hurling thunderbolts to curry favor. These antics dilute and undermine his groundbreaking use of linguistic analysis and data science. On the one hand he says that our study of these texts would be so much more intelligent if it were guided by the hard data processed through methods of data science; but then he does a number of theological-political cartwheels.

Ultimately, textual analysis of the extant texts, the source criticism that we apply to them, and the irrestistable charms of 1st century pseudo-history need to be clearly and carefully distinguished. The first is our most “objective” basis; the second involves a lot of hypothesis-testing in relation to the first; and the third is just pseudo-history that lends itself to politico-historical agendas.

I really like Bilby’s analysis of the example of canonical Luke’s use of πρός + accusative (“…Jesus spoke unto them…”) as an editorial signature or tic that is entirely absent from The Evangelion (which uses the dative instead). The case for Marcionite priority is confirmed on the level of such micro-phenomena, as well as when we take into account the macro-phenomena that have more to do with missing chapters and broad themes.

But “statistically significant results” are not Science-with-a-capital-S. Epistemological posturing is a genuine hazard. Data can always be massaged, and to his credit he acknowledges the problems that arise when only one person is asking all the questions, and applying his preconceptions. As with any method of empirical study, reproducibility and falsifiability and inter-subjective standards are paramount. Given the nature of our subject, the “data” can only be as meaningful as the questions that we put to it are intelligent and dispassionate. The term “Gospel Science” is unfortunate.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

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Irish1975 wrote: Wed Jan 18, 2023 7:44 amBut “statistically significant results” are not Science-with-a-capital-S. Epistemological posturing is a genuine hazard. Data can always be massaged, and to his credit he acknowledges the problems that arise when only one person is asking all the questions, and applying his preconceptions. As with any method of empirical study, reproducibility and falsifiability and inter-subjective standards are paramount. Given the nature of our subject, the “data” can only be as meaningful as the questions that we put to it are intelligent and dispassionate.
What exactly is meant by inter-subjective standards?
The term “Gospel Science” is unfortunate.
It is unfortunate due to the ever-present liability of GIGO. Especially when historical chronology is introduced into the framework. Bilby seems to point to the "Hadrianic epoch" as a pivotal juncture in the evolution of the topography through which various streams and rivers of text are thought to have flowed.
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Irish1975
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

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Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 18, 2023 5:58 pm What exactly is meant by inter-subjective standards?
My shorter OED definition of “intersubjective”: “shared by more than one conscious mind.” I really just mean norms, standards, principles, etc. that can be explained and justified in a shared inquiry. Standards of judgment that aren’t arbitrary and subjective.
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

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Irish1975 wrote: Wed Jan 18, 2023 6:59 pm
Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 18, 2023 5:58 pm What exactly is meant by inter-subjective standards?
My shorter OED definition of “intersubjective”: “shared by more than one conscious mind.” I really just mean norms, standards, principles, etc. that can be explained and justified in a shared inquiry. Standards of judgment that aren’t arbitrary and subjective.
The best Bilby could do is present 1 verse per page but interactive like my translation: the text is presented at the same time with a traceable and verifiable source, that ideally could be clicked and the reader lead straight to it.
In his case that would mean a few dozen extra rows per page with word variants and their source, and then the reader can pick.
But all this needs to be traceable, and none of it is
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

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mlinssen wrote: Thu Jan 19, 2023 12:39 am But all this needs to be traceable, and none of it is
You should let him know. Supposedly he is calling for collaboration. Also (as I mentioned earlier) he intends to bring the Gospel of Thomas -- whether in Coptic or Greek or both IDK -- into the collection of his datasets.
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

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Leucius Charinus wrote: Fri Jan 20, 2023 7:14 pm
mlinssen wrote: Thu Jan 19, 2023 12:39 am But all this needs to be traceable, and none of it is
You should let him know. Supposedly he is calling for collaboration. Also (as I mentioned earlier) he intends to bring the Gospel of Thomas -- whether in Coptic or Greek or both IDK -- into the collection of his datasets.
Oh I couldn't possibly, I am way too shy
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

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Overall take: Verifiability, transparency, and reproducibility are foundational to legitimate scientific discourse, method, and practice. That is exactly what we need to start bringing to the historical-critical study of the signals and strata of the Gospels

.

Indeed. And that is exactly why biblical academic has taken refuge into the exact opposite: obfuscation, hiding of arguments in footnotes, opinions over well substantiated claims, and all of that only available behind paywalls and via extremely lengthy and costly routes to peer-reviewed journals

Because biblical academic not only has nothing to do with legitimate scientific discourse, method, and practice - it is deadly frightened of and by it, as it would immediately end their entire house of cards that is built merely and solely on the opinions of allegedly well respected peers
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

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That quote about "legitimate scientific discourse, method, and practice" comes from the same page (70) where the author writes:

Pliny's correspondence provides not only our first reference to the word "christian" outside of internal Jesus tradition texts, but also the first extant reference to that label in any text.50 Besides the mention of James the brother of Jesus by Josephus (Ant. 20.9), Pliny is the first external source to mention anything about the later followers of Jesus. While Tacitus and Suetonius write about christus / chrestus / christiani / chrestiani (whatever they intended to convey by their inconsistent terminology), they are both subsequent to Pliny, knew Pliny quite well, had read his work, and had their own political agendas guiding their writing and rewritings of history. (Roman officials talked together, even if they did not always know about what they spoke.) Therefore, Pliny is a major historical anchor for our dating of the early Joshua-tradition texts.

So much for skeptical thinking.
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Re: Mark G Bilby: Marcion's Gospel and Data Science

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Leucius Charinus wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 8:40 pm That quote about "legitimate scientific discourse, method, and practice" comes from the same page (70) where the author writes:

Pliny's correspondence provides not only our first reference to the word "christian" outside of internal Jesus tradition texts, but also the first extant reference to that label in any text.50 Besides the mention of James the brother of Jesus by Josephus (Ant. 20.9), Pliny is the first external source to mention anything about the later followers of Jesus. While Tacitus and Suetonius write about christus / chrestus / christiani / chrestiani (whatever they intended to convey by their inconsistent terminology), they are both subsequent to Pliny, knew Pliny quite well, had read his work, and had their own political agendas guiding their writing and rewritings of history. (Roman officials talked together, even if they did not always know about what they spoke.) Therefore, Pliny is a major historical anchor for our dating of the early Joshua-tradition texts.

So much for skeptical thinking.
Most people come to this so very peculiar hobby because of vocation, Pete - and then two distinct paths appear.
The one to the right that continuous into the same direction as where it originated from, and the other one that follows a more organic route and ends up, errrr, Lawd knows where and will just see about that shall we?

And then there are those who come here because of a different vocation, and those may also follow that path to the right - right, Pete?

Usually, one thing leads to another - and people come to insights, take turns, adjust, adapt. Regardless of where they come from. Vinzent evidently still lingers in the same womb that Bilby appears to be in, but so far both of them have done the world an incredible amount of favours by providing it with either an enormous wealth of material

https://openhumanitiesdata.metajnl.com/ ... 4/johd.70/

or a multitude of books that pry open new ways, ever so gradually, to old paths

https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/1 ... us_Vinzent

Bilby is going to write history one way or the other.
Researchers get wiser while doing research Pete - at least the good and proper ones do
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