Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 8483
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by Peter Kirby »

If we're talking about the synoptic problem, this usually ends up getting cited with respect to the Q hypothesis:

B.H. Streeter’s The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (1924)

Like Goodacre, Streeter wasn't first, but he was a bit more influential than his predecessors.

e.g., according to Kloppenborg:

https://markgoodacre.org/Q/endorse.htm
"The positing of Q as a source for Matthew and Luke is founded on the twin suppositions of Markan priority and the independence of Matthew and Luke. In this lucid and carefully argued exploration of the Synoptic Problem, Goodacre argues that Markan priority is reasonable and well-founded, and that a good case can be made for Luke's direct dependence on Matthew. If his argument should be sustained, Q would become unnecessary and decades of Gospel research will have to be re-thought. But whether or not Goodacre is ultimately correct, The Case Against Q provides the most accessible and compelling defense to date of the theory of Gospel origins championed by James Ropes, Austin Farrer and Michael Goulder."
John S. Kloppenborg Verbin
Claremont Graduate University and The University of Toronto

There's roughly fifty years where this theory was not as popular, even though Farrer had written on it.
User avatar
Ken Olson
Posts: 1341
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 9:26 am

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by Ken Olson »

Peter Kirby wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 4:36 pm If we're talking about the synoptic problem, this usually ends up getting cited with respect to the Q hypothesis:

B.H. Streeter’s The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (1924)

Like Goodacre, Streeter wasn't first, but he was a bit more influential than his predecessors.
Yes, I was about to post that. Though I think he is wrong about Q as the source of the double tradition, I think what he says on the synoptic problem, particularly on the Mark-Q overlaps (triple tradition passages where Matthew and Luke have major agreements against Mark) makes it a milestone.

Best,

Ken
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 8483
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by Peter Kirby »


founded on ... the independence of Matthew and Luke ... -Kloppenborg

IMO a clear sign of the success of the 21st century Farrer scholarship is how split Q scholars are on this now.
User avatar
GakuseiDon
Posts: 2333
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 5:10 pm

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by GakuseiDon »

Ken's already mentioned it earlier in this thread, but the "New Perspective on Paul", started by EP Sanders; and also the Context Group:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Perspective_on_Paul

The "new-perspective" movement is closely connected with a surge of recent scholarly interest in studying the Bible in the context of other ancient texts, and the use of social-scientific methods to understand ancient culture. Scholars affiliated with The Context Group[12][13][14] have called for various reinterpretations of biblical texts based on studies of the ancient world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Context_Group
At the root of the Context Group's social-scientific method is the belief that biblical scholars have taken western cultural assumptions for granted when interpreting biblical texts, which are ancient documents produced in a much different culture...

The ancient Mediterranean was also a high-context society, where discourse took shared cultural values for granted. This contrasts with the modern western world, which is a low-context society in which discourse tends to be more specific and specialized (i.e. to particular groups, subcultures, etc.). According to the Context scholars, the interpreter must learn the cultural assumptions and values behind the text in order to understand it correctly.

The western cultural assumptions seems to drive much of the belief that Paul would have been interested in the life of Jesus rather than in his death, because that is what we are interested in today, thus Paul is 'unexpectedly' missing details about Jesus' life in his letters.
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 8483
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by Peter Kirby »

This argues that there was an early effort for sociological and social-historical research early in the 20th century, which experienced a revival of interest around the 1970s. Certainly, the emphasis on sociological research (and, maybe a little later, rhetorical criticism) became firmly embedded in the field starting around the 1960s and 1970s.

David G. Horrell, "Social Sciences Studying Formative Christian Phenomena: A Creative Movement" in Handbook of Early Christianity: Social Science Approaches, p. 6.

But despite such energetic pursuit of social-historical understanding of the early Christian movement, from around the 1920s until the 1970s interest in the social dimensions of early Christianity declined. There were a number of reasons for this. One was the failure of form criticism, particularly in the hands of its most prominent exponent, Rudolf Bultmann, to explore the social context in which the traditions were preserved and developed. It is often remarked that Cullmann’s call for a sociological dimension to form criticism went virtually unheeded. ...

The tide began to turn in the 1960s, and a revival of interest in the social aspects of early Christianity began. One landmark was the 1960 publication of Edwin Judge's The Social Pattern of the Christian Groups in the First Century, which, in the following decade or two, played a significant role in encouraging this renewed interest. Other notable works of social history were published (e.g., Martin Hengel 1969, 1973; cf. Scroggs 1980: 168—71). However, in contrast to much of the work undertaken earlier in the century, what was new in the early 1970s was the creative and varied use of methods, models, and theories from the social sciences in studies of early Christianity.

One memorable part of this trend was Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (1983).
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 8483
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by Peter Kirby »

I mentioned one important milestone in historical Jesus research already, and now here are three.

David F. Strauss, The Life of Jesus: Critically Examined (1835).

Albert Schweitzer, From Reimarus to Wrede: a History of Life-of-Jesus Research (1906).

Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne (editors), Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity (2012).
User avatar
Leucius Charinus
Posts: 2834
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 4:23 pm
Location: memoriae damnatio

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by Leucius Charinus »

Some of these have already been mentioned above.


1517 - The Reformation - started with the publication of the Ninety-five Theses, authored by Martin Luther.

1532-1583 - “supreme producer of epigraphic forgeries” unquestionably belongs to Pirro Ligorio (c. 1512–83).

1560-1966 - Publication of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum

1628 - Blondel - Exposure of the Pseudo-Isidore forgery

1762 - TF: "A rank forgery, and a very stupid one, too" --- Bishop Warburton of Gloucester

1820 - William Hone's Apocryphal New Testament (Collected from 18th C William Wake / Jeremiah Jones)

1853 - Pius IX appoints "Commissione de archaelogia sacra" responsible for all early Christian remains."

1857-1861 - Giovanni Battista de Rossi publishes first volume of "Inscriptiones christianae urbis Romae".

1867-1873 - Ante-Nicene Christian Library (ANCL), Rev. Alexander Roberts / James Donaldson.

1878 - Julius Wellhausen (Geschichte Israels) in which he advanced a definitive formulation of the documentary hypothesis.

1886-1900 - Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (NPNF) Philip Schaff / Henry Wace

1896–1907 to present - The Oxyrhynchus Papyri - Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt

1924 - Apocryphal New Testament - new translations by M. R. James

1945-1980 - Discovery and English translations of the Nag Hammadi library

1946-1991 - Discovery DSS and publication (1991) by Biblical Archaeology Society "Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls",

1970's - Thomas Thompson "Did Moses exist"?

1990 - New Testament Apocrypha (English translation of Schneemelcher by Robert McLachlan Wilson)

1991 - Revised translations J.K. Eliott, The Apocryphal New Testament

1993-present - Niels Peter Lemche; Russell Gmirkin: Hellenistic era theory of Hebrew Bible

2005 - Nat. Geo: Publication and C14 dating of the Gospel of Judas
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 8483
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by Peter Kirby »

rgprice wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:14 pm What are the main important milestones in biblical scholarship starting with the Protestant Reformation?
Leucius Charinus wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 7:30 pm 1517 - The Reformation - started with the publication of the Ninety-five Theses, authored by Martin Luther.
Before the reformation, there was humanism. And of course, there was Erasmus.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/erasmus/
During his lifetime Erasmus’ name became synonymous with humanism, a label also adopted in modern reference works (such as Nauert 2006). Today the term “humanist” has a broad range of meanings. In the 16th century the word denoted a student or teacher of the studia humanitatis, a curriculum focusing on the study of classical languages, rhetoric, and literature. At northern universities, where scholasticism and the dialectical method reigned supreme, the trend-setting humanists were regarded as challengers of the status quo (see Rummel 1995). The defenders of tradition belittled their competitors as “grammarians” and dismissed the humanities as poetria, the stuff of poetry. To a certain extent, the tensions between the two schools of thought may be explained in terms of professional jealousy, but at its core was the dispute over methodology and qualifications. Humanists favored rhetorical arguments; scholastics insisted on logical proof.


He further insisted on the right of humanists, who were trained in the classical languages, to apply their philological skills to both secular and sacred writings. Translation and textual criticism of the Bible required philological skills, and theologians who engaged in this task “were acting in the capacity of philologists (grammatici)” (Ep. 181: 120–5; CWE 2).

While the need for language studies and the use of philological methods found gradual acceptance among theologians, the skeptical ars dubitandi, which was also closely associated with humanism, remained anathema. Since skepticism was identified with atheism in Erasmus’ time, most humanists refrained from advocating this method openly. They expressed their skepticism through the use of open-ended dialogue or rhetorical compositions that argued opposing points of view.


The method of arguing in utramque partem, on both sides of a question, was first developed by the Greek Sophists as a demonstration of their rhetorical prowess. Pyrrhonic skeptics adopted this method as a preliminary step in arguing a case. If the evidence was ambivalent, they advocated epoche, suspension of judgment. Academic skeptics modified this process, admitting probability as a criterion to settle an ambiguous question.


This rhetorical type of argumentation which emphasizes collaboration and consensus-building is a typical humanistic approach and an important element also of Erasmus’ political thought and his educational philosophy.


Erasmus expressed confidence in the potential of human beings for self-improvement, a corollary of his acceptance of free will. ... He proclaimed that human beings without education had no humanity: “Man was not born but made man” (CWE 26: 304). It was education that raised human beings above the level of brute beasts and made them useful members of society. “Man, unless he has experienced the influence of learning and philosophy, is at the mercy of impulses that are worse than those of a wild beast” (CWE 26: 305). ... In Erasmus’ time memorization and imitation were the predominant methods of education. Anticipating modern principles, Erasmus emphasized the importance of understanding and internalizing the material presented.


The Folly is concerned in a playful spirit with the same subject as the Handbook of the Christian Soldier. My purpose was guidance and not satire; to help, not to hurt; to show men how to become better, and not stand in their way…not only to cure them but to amuse them, too. I had often observed that this cheerful and humorous style of putting people right is with many of them most successful. (Ep. 337: 98–101, 126–8; CWE 3)


Erasmus was a prolific writer. His works were translated into the vernacular and circulated widely. His ideas had a strong impact that can be traced into the modern age. Even in his own time, the term “Erasmian” denoted a certain set of values.


While Erasmus was revered among humanists, his biblical scholarship soon came under attack from theologians. They refused to acknowledge him as a colleague and derided his doctorate, which had been granted per saltum, that is, without fulfilling the residence requirements or passing the usual examinations. In their eyes, Erasmus was merely a “theologizing humanist”, as the prominent Paris theologian Noël Beda put it (Preface to Annotations 1526). Erasmus was not the first humanist to treat the New Testament in a text-critical fashion and to compare the Latin Vulgate with the Greek original, although none of his predecessors had dared to use their findings to publish an amended edition of the text. Erasmus had discovered a manuscript of Lorenzo Valla’s annotations on the New Testament and originally planned to publish notes of a similar nature, that is, observations of errors, discrepancies, and mistranslations. He expanded the scope of his project on the urging of his publisher, Johann Froben, and rather hastily assembled a text based on the biblical manuscripts he had been able to consult. In the resulting edition, the Greek text was faced by a lightly amended Vulgate, with Erasmus’ editorial changes explained in annotations following the text. The reception of the edition varied. Humanists generally praised it as an exceptional achievement; a considerable number of theologians disapproved of it and not only impugned Erasmus’ scholarship but also questioned his orthodoxy.


In the last two decades of his life, Erasmus wrote numerous apologiae, refuting critics of his New Testament edition and battling the accusation that he had inspired the Reformation and was a supporter of Luther. It was difficult, however, to change an opinion that was so entrenched that it had become proverbial and issued in the popular saying “Erasmus laid the egg, and Luther hatched it”. Erasmus’ critics demanded proof of his orthodoxy in the form of a direct attack on Luther. For some years Erasmus held out and refused explicitly to endorse any religious party.

With a nod to LC, there is also this note:

In the wake of the Council of Trent, which defined articles of faith more rigidly, Erasmus’ works were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books.

The very idea of "biblical" scholarship as an area of philological and historical study, rather than a branch of theology, is the spirit of Erasmus and his humanism. In that, we are all the heirs of Erasmus.
User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 13872
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by Giuseppe »

As to the synoptic problem, for me, personally, only two:
  • Bruno Bauer: Critique of the Gospel History, 1841-42
  • "Jésus Barabbas" (by P.L. Couchoud & R. Stahl), in Premiers écrits du Christianisme (1930), pp. 139–161

I would like to add Klinghardt, but I think that he haa still to write his best book on the Synopyic question, once he will add also the sectarian rivalries in the equation (what he has deliberately not made until now). I have not added Markus Vinzent's Christ's Torah because, despite of original insights, he is strongly indebted to P.-L. Couchoud and the reading of Bruno Bauer has served principally to make me prudent about the more extreme conclusion, without still the last word on the question between *Ev's priority and Markan priority (whereas Luke and Matthew go definitely out of scene).
rgprice
Posts: 2101
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:57 pm

Re: Important milestones in biblical scholarship

Post by rgprice »

Thanks for the info thus far. I figured someone would call me out for not mentioning Arthur Drew's The Christ Myth :p

Anyway, what I've gleaned is:

Catholic priest Lorenzo Valla published a treaties exposing the Donation of Constantine as a forgery in 1440. Exposure of this forgery contributed significantly to opposition to papal authority and the events of the Protestant Reformation.

The primacy of Peter and establishment of the Roman Church by Peter is challenged in the late 15th and early 16th centuries in works such as Confutatio primatus papae and Scriptum contra primatum papae. This lead the way for further opposition to papal authority.

In the mid 17th century the Catholic priest John Bolland and his team investigated the historicity of virtually all named Catholic saints, declaring huge numbers of their accounts to be ahistorical. Though his work was initially supported by the papacy, his writings ended up on the Roman Index of Prohibited Books.

Identification of the Synoptic Problem by Griesbach in 1776. Griesbach published all of the Gospels side by side, noting points of similarity and discrepancy. Griesbach argued that the Gospel of Matthew was written first, with Luke having been derived from Matthew and Mark from both Matthew and Luke.

The theory of Markan priority was first advanced by Gottlob Storr in 1786 as a way to address the Synoptic Problem. Markan priority was not generally accepted among biblical scholars until the end of the 19th century. By the early 20th century Markan priority had become widely accepted among biblical scholars.

In 1820 Protestant theologian Karl Bretschneider published Probabilities Concerning the Nature and Origin of the Gospel and Epistles of the Apostle John in which he concluded that the Gospel of John was not written by an actual disciple of Jesus and that the writer of the Gospel was not Jewish or even from Palestine. This was one of the first critical works to reject the traditional attribution of the Gospel to "John Zebedee", the disciple of Jesus. Bretschneider later retracted his position due to pressure from other theologians.

In 1835 Protestant theologian David Strauss publishes The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined, which was a popular work that argued the miracles described in the Gospels were later embellishments that were not really true. Strauss argues that the miracles were simply later inventions that either developed from oral traditions or were the inventions of the Gospel writers. This was in contrast to the rationalist view at the time which held that that recorded miracles were misinterpretations of non-supernatural events. In other words that Jesus really healed people, that Jesus appeared to raise people from the dead, that Jesus appeared to walk on water, that Jesus only appeared to die and later rose, etc. The prevailing view, however, was still the supernaturalist view that the biblical accounts were entirely accurate and that all of the miracles really did happen as described.

The Tübingen School of theology became prominent in the mid-19th century. Ferdinand Baur argued that the true origins of the New Testament were fundamentally at odds with the traditional concepts. Baur argued that the Pauline letters contained forgeries and that only a small number were genuine, that Acts of the Apostles is not historically accurate and that the figure of Paul in Acts was a literary invention at odds with the character of the figure who wrote the genuine Pauline letters. Baur also argued that the none of the Gospels were authored by the figures to which they were ascribed. Baur argued that Christianity developed gradually from Judaism and that the works of the New Testament were a product of competing factions and ideas among communities, as opposed to inspired or historical accounts from witnesses to the ministry of Jesus.

Bruno Bauer of the Tübingen School is among the first modern scholars to deny that Jesus Christ ever existed in the late 19th century, though his work received little recognition at the time.

In 1857 Gustav Volkmar of the Tübingen School argued that the Gospel of Mark was an allegorical presentation of the life of Paul the apostle. Volkmar's work was considered extremely radical and received little immediate acceptance, though interest in his position did grow toward the beginning of the 20th century.

The two-source hypothesis involving the use of Mark and "Q" develops around the end of the 19th century and becomes popularized in the early 20th century. This hypothesis proposes that writers of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke independently integrated the Gospel of Mark with material from an unknown written source of "sayings of Jesus". This was meant to explain why the Gospels of Matthew and Luke often agree with each other with material not found in the Gospel of Mark, but do so in different ways.

In 1909 Arthur Drews published The Christ Myth, which was one of the first relatively popular works to argue that Jesus Christ was a mythical figure who never existed. Drews argued that worship of Jesus began as a mystery cult that combined Greco-Roman and Jewish religious concepts. Drews argued that the Jesus described by Paul the apostle was not a historical figure and that Jesus was only later historicized through the writing of the Gospels, which are pure fabrications.

Following World War One there was a conservative backlash against critical biblical scholarship.

In 1923 theologian Martin Werner published a book refuting Volkmar's thesis, which argued that the Gospel of Mark was not allegorical at all and contained no Pauline influences. Werner's case was widely accepted as authoritative among biblical scholars at the time and his views became predominate in the field.

In 1924, theologian Adolf Harnack published Marcion : the gospel of the alien God, in which he explored the theology of the heretic Marcion and attempted to reconstruct the scriptures used by him. Harnack showed that Marcion was the first Christian to produce an authoritative body of scripture known as a "New Testament" which contained a Gospel and collection of Pauline letters. While Harnack ultimately took the side of orthodox theology, he did argue that the case against Marcion laid out by the Church Fathers was not supported by the evidence and called into question the logic of some of the attacks they leveled against Marcion.

In 1955 theologian Austin Farrer published, On Dispensing With Q, which argues that the writer of the Gospel of Matthew added material to the Gospel of Mark, and that the writer of the Gospel of Luke used both Matthew and Mark to develop his Gospel. This attempts to resolve the Synoptic Problem without resorting to the the claim that two people independently added material from an unknown source to the Gospel of Mark.

Howard Teeple published his study: The Literary Origins of the Gospel of John in 1974, which argues that the Gospel of John is composite work developed from two literary sources, which were integrated by an editor and then revised again by a separate editor. The theology of the various writers and editors were often at odds, with the last redactor modifying the narrative to bring it more in line with orthodox theology.

The Jesus Seminar was founded in 1985 by biblical scholar Robert Funk to investigate the nature of the "historical Jesus". The Jesus Seminar brought in roughly 150 scholars to debate and assess various aspects of biblical traditions. The Seminar relied on voting from its members as a way to determine consensus about the reliability of various claims. The first, and most consequential, work published by the Jesus Seminar was The Five Gospels: What did Jesus Really Say?, published in 1993. The Jesus Seminar essentially concluded that Jesus was an itinerant preacher and faith healer. They conclude that he didn't really perform miracles or rise from the dead, but that he was a real person and that a small portion of his real teachings are retained in the Gospels.

In 1991, Catholic scholar John Paul Meier published A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. In this work, Meier argued that there was strong evidence that Jesus was a real person and that the Gospels provide a largely accurate depiction of his life and teachings. However, Meier concludes that Jesus was not well know during his own lifetime and that his movement was originally very small, which is why there are little or no traces of him in the historical record. Meier's work was widely acclaimed at the time and had popular appeal.

In 1999 Early Doherty published, The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus. This work revived the case against the historical existence of Jesus. In this book Doherty argues that the earliest worshipers of Jesus, including Paul, believed in a heavily Jesus, whose crucifixion took place in the heavens, and that the Gospels only later historicized the story of Jesus' crucifixion.

In the 2000s Bart Ehrman become a well known a prominent scholar on the subject of Christian history and the life of Jesus. Ehrman received his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary, but later renounced his Christian faith. According to Ehrman, his seminary studies led him to the conclusion that the Christian faith was not divinely inspired. Ehrman's status as an agnostic/atheist credentialed theologian contributed to his popularity. Ehrman has published books on a range of subjects, from fraud and forgery in the Christian scriptures to theological dilemmas to his defense of the historical existence of Jesus and the essential historical credibility of the Gospel narratives.

I think I still need to fill in more for in the 20th century, esp post-WWII. There are some good points in this thread that I need to add, just sorting through them still.

What I'm still looking for is an understanding of when it was proposed that none of the Gospels were written prior to the First Jewish-Roman War? What about the history of scholarship on the Pauline letters (I can probably reference RMP for this)?

What about important television programs that were influential, such as Jesus - His Life? Are there earlier programs like this that were popular in America or Europe?

Of course I need to add more about the revival of Marcionite studies and of Pauline influence on Mark.
Post Reply