historian of early Christianity

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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mlinssen
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by mlinssen »

Paul the Uncertain wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 6:51 am Anyway, as to Crossan, it is perfectly reasonable to describe him as an historian as Americans use the word, and to do so without hedges, even when disagreeing with some of his conclusions. He is a "historical scholar," and there's no urgent reason to distinguish that from an historian, not even at the summit of scholarship that is a Wikipedia page.
You may look down at Wikipedia, for good reasons by the way although basically it is very democratic (with all the pros and cons) but for the love of Gawd let's not imitate the dumbing down of society at large by following American example there
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

mlinssen wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 7:13 am
You may look down at Wikipedia, for good reasons by the way although basically it is very democratic (with all the pros and cons) but for the love of Gawd let's not imitate the dumbing down of society at large by following American example there
How different is it elsewhere English is spoken? In an earlier post, you questionned whether it was legal ... is "historian" a licensed profession somewhere (English-speaking or not)?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I just suspect that the American example is not so exceptional. Freedom to inquire into the human past and freedom to publicize findings, if any, seems very close to a fundamental right, and not something peculiarly American. In my opinion, of course.
StephenGoranson
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by StephenGoranson »

Robert Benchley (in 1920, historywise): "There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not."
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mlinssen
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by mlinssen »

Paul the Uncertain wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 7:28 am
mlinssen wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 7:13 am
You may look down at Wikipedia, for good reasons by the way although basically it is very democratic (with all the pros and cons) but for the love of Gawd let's not imitate the dumbing down of society at large by following American example there
How different is it elsewhere English is spoken? In an earlier post, you questionned whether it was legal ... is "historian" a licensed profession somewhere (English-speaking or not)?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I just suspect that the American example is not so exceptional. Freedom to inquire into the human past and freedom to publicize findings, if any, seems very close to a fundamental right, and not something peculiarly American. In my opinion, of course.
I tend to have a global view, Paul. And while you claim to not have answers to the questions to which evident answers are present in abundance, you don't seem to rush off to go fetch them.
The word "historian" is used by Christians in order to lend credibility to what their peers say, just as they do with "historical record" when trying to suggest that Christian texts have historical value

We can chit-chat about this for ages and you likely wouldn't mind it I guess, as that would postpone the inevitable conclusion that none of those biblical academics who get labelled by their Christian friends actually have studied History - they're merely expressing their opinion which has no historical basis at all

Thanks for joining, Stephen Goranson. Would you perhaps be referring to Christians who divide the world in Christians and the rest?

So amateur historian it is from now on for the likes of Crossan and such: people interested in History without having a degree in the field. As such I'm an expert in "Languages and Cultures of Latin-America" given my Masters degree in it, yet when it comes to Thomas I'm an amateur. Hey, I could even call myself amateur historian of the Gospel of Thomas, how would you like that?
Or perhaps I should just drop the word amateur ad I have the exact same academic qualifications in the field of history that Crossan has: none

Let's just be honest, Paul Snow: you know as well as I do what's gong on here. We may not agree about Christian origins and an awful lot else related to that, but we can be adult about it
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

Let's just be honest, Paul Snow: you know as well as I do what's gong on here. We may not agree about Christian origins and an awful lot else related to that, but we can be adult about it
This place wouldn't exist except for disagreements about Christian origins (and parallel controversies on the other boards hereabouts). I don't expect to find widespread agreement here, nor should you for that matter. It's not what the place is useful for.

I just don't share your suspicion that anything is "going on" when Wikipedia or any non-specialist publication refers to Crossan as a historian. It's mainstream (non-jargon) American usage. It doesn't misrepresent his relationship with the subjects of his scholarship.

Rather than worrying about avoiding flattery when describing Crossan, I'd be more concerned when somebody who isn't a historian says something like "Paul says he met Jesus's brother, that would be good enough for a historian to accept that Jesus was a real man who actually lived." Not only a fallacious argument from authority, but a not even fallacious argument from authority :)

Anyway, since you'd mentioned it, I was curious about what field your masters degree was in. Thank you for that information. Just idle curiosity; you've done the work that you've reported doing. What you did or didn't do before then doesn't change anything.
Last edited by Paul the Uncertain on Sat Apr 30, 2022 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
StephenGoranson
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by StephenGoranson »

"Religion" has many uses. "Historian," ditto.
Some without history PhDs write fine histories, e.g., Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August. She did have a BA from (nice place) Wellesley. Whether she fits artificial categories--no matter to me.
Quoting the Benchley joke was in an effort to avoid reductionism.
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by gryan »

In this recently reposted blogpost, Bart Ehrman (vs. Richard Carrier, PhD, History) defends his competence to discuss "what we can know about history" (even though his PhD is not in "history").

https://ehrmanblog.org/a-full-reply-to- ... og-post-4/

I hate to admit it, but I found this essay riveting in part because the accusations against Ehrman's competence are so ugly (and Ehrman's defense is so sharp-witted)!
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by Leucius Charinus »

mlinssen wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 6:16 amNo one with a degree in Divinity or anything the like would present themselves as historian, archaeologist or philologist - they're simply not entitled to the title
Technically all the "Doctors of Theology & Divinity" have made an in-depth study of the "Church History" and other literature attributed to Eusebius, now packaged as the 10 volume set of the Ante Nicene Fathers. Advanced courses include the 28 volume set of the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers. They would also have occasion to study the vast indices of "Christian archaeology" compiled and managed by the Vatican church industry.

So technically they have studied a subset of "history" which is why Momigliano refers to them as the insiders and to the classical historians like himself as the outsiders.

The problem of course is articulated by Edward Gibbon who wrote: "The scanty and suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church."
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by GakuseiDon »

gryan wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 9:26 am In this recently reposted blogpost, Bart Ehrman (vs. Richard Carrier, PhD, History) defends his competence to discuss "what we can know about history" (even though his PhD is not in "history").

https://ehrmanblog.org/a-full-reply-to- ... og-post-4/

I hate to admit it, but I found this essay riveting in part because the accusations against Ehrman's competence are so ugly (and Ehrman's defense is so sharp-witted)!
Without meaning to brag, Dr Ehrman is referring to me at the end when he refers to a "sympathetic reader". :whistling: :cheers:

It would be nice not to worry too much about motives with regards to an argument until after the argument has been shown to be false. Biased people can make correct arguments. No-one looks at an argument and says "I guess that person is right because he's biased". If you don't like the credentials, don't read the argument.
Last edited by GakuseiDon on Fri May 13, 2022 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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mlinssen
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by mlinssen »

Leucius Charinus wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 7:34 pm
mlinssen wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 6:16 amNo one with a degree in Divinity or anything the like would present themselves as historian, archaeologist or philologist - they're simply not entitled to the title
Technically all the "Doctors of Theology & Divinity" have made an in-depth study of the "Church History" and other literature attributed to Eusebius, now packaged as the 10 volume set of the Ante Nicene Fathers. Advanced courses include the 28 volume set of the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers. They would also have occasion to study the vast indices of "Christian archaeology" compiled and managed by the Vatican church industry.

So technically they have studied a subset of "history" which is why Momigliano refers to them as the insiders and to the classical historians like himself as the outsiders.

The problem of course is articulated by Edward Gibbon who wrote: "The scanty and suspicious materials of ecclesiastical history seldom enable us to dispel the dark cloud that hangs over the first age of the church."
What Eusebius wrote is not history - and if it is then I can call myself historian too.
The thing is that with rhetoric tricks like these it becomes obvious that they have nothing to offer content wise, so they flee into context: they refer to their BFF as historians, church writings s historical records, themselves as exercising "true scholarship" and so on. Here is a live example of what a graduate student from a theology school has to remark:

Hey Derek!

I really appreciated your creativity on this! A few things right off the bat, I was alarmed by the lack of scholarly sources cited that address the resurrection of Jesus. I'm afraid this simply won't convince people who are well read on the subject. The belief that Jesus died by crucifixion, was buried, and that his disciples (including Paul) had genuine experiences that they sincerely believed were appearances of a resurrected Jesus are strongly held by the vast majority of scholars, including skeptical ones. Now, these historical facts (which are so strongly evidenced its ridiculous) don't get you a resurrection! For the simple reason that the main issue is miracles. If miracle's don't happen, Jesus' resurrection is not the best explanation. If miracle's do happen, Jesus' resurrection is the best explanation. I advise skeptics to simply hold to the very respectable position of simply denying miracles and leaving it at that (which many NT scholars do). Rather than engaging in very weak argumentation that lacks serious engagement with the primary sources and historical context.

A graduate student - and one already trained in all the tricks of the passive aggressive trade
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