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
. 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.