Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Internal Evidence Biblical Criticism

Counter-intuitive as it may seem, the early English Deists, Spinoza, and French criticism of the Bible are most useful for reconstructing the level of Biblical Criticism for the time of Joseph Smith Jr, because they all use internal evidence exclusively.

Once the different codices rise to the level of awareness and people begin to argue in terms of the languages used and in terms of the textual families, the situation becomes for the experts only and cannot be expected to find reflection in the theological discussions of Upstate New York. The professionalization and scientific status of the discipline eliminated the participation of the lay people.

David Friedrich Strauss cites Reimarus about how apologetic all of that Biblical analysis had been in the past (and this tack still covers a good range of what is presently happening, to my own mind, as it captures apologetics, e.g. Terry L. Givens).

Noch andere fangen wohl an, über ihren Glauben nachzudenken, und finden bald hier bald da einen Stein des Anstoßes; "aber ihre Untersuchung ist darum nicht aufrichtig, weil sie dabei nicht gleichgültig sind. Sie wünschen immer, daß ihr Endurtheil so ausfallen möchte, daß sie dasjenige, was sie bisher nach ihrem Katechismus geglaubt haben, wahr und gegründet finden könnten." Dies ist besonders bei den Gelehrten der Fall, …. (Strauss, Reimarus, p.48f)
Others clearly start to ponder their faith, and find one or another issue; "but their investigation is not honest, because they are interested in the outcome. They always wish to achieve a final judgement such that they can discover that which they have so far believed according to their Catechism, as true and founded." This is especially the case with scholars .... 
Apologists are often frustrated by this asymmetry, but it is to be expected; the claims raised by a book purporting to be a revelation are extraordinary, and thus the majority of these claims should be assumed to be false. Thus, the healthy skepticism of the dispassionate is not only the stance to be expected, but in some sense the correct stance. And that stance can not be short-circuited by appealing to the religious intuition (cf. Moroni 10:3-5).

No comments:

Post a Comment