Tag Archives: Thomas L. Brodie

Parallel discussions in the blogosphere about Parallelism

Enns (Photo credit: mag3737) or Ens?

It started here with McGrath speaking about Brodie’s aptness to resort to parallelism, a term coined by Sandmel. The Shape responded here by saying,

“It’s not the process of parallelomania that I dislike but rather the term itself. It is not helpful and is dismissive in its nature.”

McGrath responded. The Shape responded.

And now, let me respond. First, I want to point out to you something rather odd

Petrus Ens, a Reformed professor in Harderwijk, had been accused of teaching Socinian theses [in the middle of the 18th century]. While the case of Stinstra [a minister removed from office for doctrinal reasons] caused a great commotion throughout the country, Ens was a little combative; when it appeared that he maintained his refusal to withdraw his statements, he was quietly removed from the academy (1741). It is the only time in the history of the Reformed Church after the Synod of Dordrecht that a theological professor in the Netherlands was dismissed for his doctrine.

Let that sink in. Now, read it again, like this:

Peter Enns, a Reformed professor in Westminster, had been accused of teaching a post-modern theses. While the case of Pahl [a minister removed from office for doctrinal reasons] caused a great commotion throughout the country, Enns was a little combative; when it appeared that he maintained his refusal to withdraw his statements, he was quietly removed from the academy (2008). It is the only time in the history of the Reformed Church after the Westminster Confession that a theological professor in the United States was dismissed for his doctrine.

Both are true stories. Entirely true. Both.

So, what to do with parallelism? First, The Shape may be correct in suggesting it is a cheap shot and Sandmel does not help his case when he says,

“…that extravagance among scholars which first overdoes the supposed similarity in passages and then proceeds to describe source and derivation as if implying literary connection flowing in an inevitable or predetermined direction…we are at a junction when biblical scholarship should recognise parallelomania for the disease that it is.”

However, there are some that are truly diseased – Joseph Atwill, Ralph Ellis, and others — but there are those who correctly call out parallelism (sometimes Brodie, myself, etc…). Is there a better term? Doubtful, but can it be better used?

Yes. As I pointed in out my book, I am timid in approaching certain instances in Mark because connecting it too much to the outside world could be construed as parallelism. But, there are times when things are truly parallel.

Look at the account of Petrus Ens and Peter Enns, both professors at Reformed institutions. Both were fired for teaching something other than the approved theology. In hundred years, or two thousand, would you say scholars researching Peter Enns are practicing parallelism?

Enhanced by Zemanta

A different perspective on Thomas Brodie

That guy with the odd name that cannot be his own has written a post YOU ALL SHOULD READ. He writes, in part

Thomas Brodie gave a great display in intellectual honesty in the publication of his last book and he was crucified (ahem!) for it.

via It’s All Random…Mostly…: Thomas Brodie and Intellectual Honesty in Biblical Studies….

My friend is correct, of course. Brodie has led the way in intertextuality and while I disagree with his conclusions on the Historical Jesus, his work has pushed us in this still unrespected realm to new heights.

In the end, he was honest, finally, and he did pay the price.

I wonder how many positions, especially moral positions, people force themselves to uphold in order to retain an image or a job.

Anyway, give the article a read.

as a side note, I disagree with the blogger. i believe objectivity is achievable. 

How do you solve a problem like… Brodie fandom…

Think (Photo credits: www.mysafetysign.com)

Update – Neil believes the fandom bit is about him and is a swipe — because he thinks everything is a swipe against him. In speaking about fandom, I am referring to myself. 

My new best buddy Neil has written a bit on my acceptance of Thomas Brodie‘s work in my book, Mimetic CriticismI called Brodie’s work a masterpiece among other things. When Brodie first announced, I considered retracting those comments, but I felt like it would be unfair. I had not read Brodie’s book (still haven’t). But the books I did read (Birthing the New Testament, Crucial Bridge) I thought and still think are monumental books. So why would I change my mind about his work which was relevant to my work?

Of course, the first few pages of Dennis MacDonald’s book (the one where he suggests Mark used Homer), are brilliant. Guess what? You don’t have to agree with someone’s conclusions in order to appreciate, learn from, or even accept their methodology. 

This is what I said to Neil:

Neil, I am at a loss for how to handle Brodie’s mythicism and I must admit it has made me reconsider the intellectual prowess of some mythicists. I haven’t read Brodie’s latest and might later so I cannot fully comment on my friend McGrath’s review.

I will stand by my remarks, which were written when his book was announced. I made the choice to go ahead and go with with them, even knowing what Brodie was going to say. (I had spoken with a someone who’d read the book in pre-pub)

As I said with DM, I can say about TB. His conclusions I do not support, but his methodology, research, and forward thinking ideas are gigantic and worthy of admiration. Brodie’s book, Birthing the NT, is outstanding, and I would use it in any NT class I taught. I do not think we should do Gospel Criticism without at the very least a long, heavy gaze towards Brodie’s work.

As I have stated in the recent past, the origin of the fact does not dismiss the fact. Brodie’s work on literary criticism of the New Testament has presented us a positive methodology, even if I disagree with his conclusions on the historical person of Jesus. I even disagree with some conclusions he has reached on the literary spring of the New Testament. But, this is the key to being an open-minded thinker. You do not have to accept every thing to accept some things. It is not an all or nothing world.

As far as commenting on McGrath’s review of Brodie’s work, I cannot. I haven’t read Brodie’s work.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Is this another malfeasance of the Academic Community?

Father Thomas L. Brodie, recently out of the closet as a Jesus-mythicist, has been replaced at his teaching position.

According to documents seen by the Irish Sun, the veteran scholar was also banned from any lecturing, teaching or writing while a probe is under way…. (here – via The Irish Sun)

The online journal has a somewhat more interesting take, a take that looks really, really close to the Irish Sun.

Anyway… I am an admirer of Thomas Brodie’s work on mimesis; however, I think he has lost his focus and hold on the facts. My concern is the use of the term “rip-off.”

Anyway, Brodie has suffered a displacement, but is it unwarranted? Hardly. He was a priest, having taken oaths and certain vows to the Church and his Order which he in several ways broke. Added to this, this is a strictly confessional institution and the premise he is now publicly decreeing is directly against EVERYTHING the institution stands for. To me, this is like a professor at MIT teaching Young Earth Creationism. There is academic freedom and then there is taking away the conspiracy theory license.

Tough here… really tough.

Blogging my Book: Avoiding the trap of Parallelomania

Tom posted a link on my wall today from a favorite scholar of mine. Thomas L. Brodie has a new book coming out that details his decent into mythicism.

The work of tracing literary indebtedness and art is far from finished but it is already possible and necessary to draw a conclusion: it is that, bluntly, Jesus did not exist as a historical individual. This is not as negative as may at first appear. In a deeply personal coda, Brodie begins to develop a new vision of Jesus as an icon of God’s presence in the world and in human history.

Now, I have to agree with James McGrath here:

The very fact that some mythicists have been able to claim that the New Testament is entirely based on pagan myths, while others have been able to claim that it is entirely based on stories in Jewish Scripture, shows that people who want to find precursors will do so, and will find diverse and even mutually exclusive ones. So mainstream historical scholars will look forward to Brodie further illustrating this problematic aspect of the alleged case for mythicism.

Brodie’s book, Birthing the New Testament, is an outstanding read especially in regards to mimesis/imitation. The problem with all of this is that no one takes seriously (well, I mean no mythicist, but I mean, what do they take seriously?) the idea of contextualization, something playing a part in mimesis and human memory. Anthony Le Donne‘s book is a great place to start with this subject. Actually, both books are.

Going through my book, I have first attempted to establish that I am well aware of parallelomania, the idea that the Christian New Testament is nothing more than a poorly reconstructed collection of pagan myths and/or writings from the Septuagint. Second, I have shown how several instances are simply not parallel with others, and thus are most likely drawn from some historical tradition. Brodie’s complaint is against oral tradition, but the Gospels were written long after the oral tradition circulated. I do not need to look for oral tradition, only acknowledge that oral tradition existed before the Gospels were written. Paul is an example of one who sits in this tradition. So is Peter and a few others. To deny, then, oral tradition is to cut out a needed foundation for any study of the historical Jesus, and thus you are left with the idea that Jesus is only a collection of myths.

This is disheartening, to say the least, but is a stern reminder not to forget the very human authors of the Gospels, who, just like us, contextualized things according to their lexicon. What a shame when we so arrogantly think we can rightly separate the authors from their time.