Friday, January 7, 2011

Robert M. Price, one of America's leading authorities on the Bible,

Yes, I had a little chuckle as well. But according to Prices' own homepage regarding his newish book The Case Against The Case For Christ (American Atheist Press, 2010):
New Testament scholar Robert M. Price, one of America's leading authorities on the Bible, has taken umbrage at the cavalier manner in which Strobel has misrepresented his field of study and won't take it any longer. 
And on the other hand:
...[Strobel] consults alleged experts... He does not appear to have done any competent investigation on his own or consulted any genuine authorities on the relevant subjects... 

I am not going to go down to the level of that blurb -  but Dr Price is most definitely not one of America's leading authorities on the Bible.On the other hand, to claim that scholars such as the late Bruce Metzger, described by Bart Ehrman in his popular Misquoting Jesus  as "the world's leading expert in the field [of textual criticism.]", were not genuine authorities in their field is  not just deluded but offensive.

And if contributing to Christian apologetics somehow nullifies all scholarly credentials I would assume it also carries over  to Prices' focus on polemics.

One of Australia's leading authorities on everything...although posting something with a slightly apologetic tone may nullify any expertise I do have.


  1. I think it is very hard to argue with a publisher's blurb without lowering yourself to the level of that blurb. I certainly would not quarrel with your assessment of Metzger, but I think it is somewhat misleading to refer to "scholars such as the late Bruce Metzger," since he is by far the the exception rather than the rule when it comes to the respect that Strobel's experts enjoy outside the conservative Christian community.

  2. Dear Ari,

    I noticed that you have only two other buttons on your web site aside from the home button. "Ressurrection and history", and "Historicity of Jesus". This indicates to me that these are two issues that you are interested in.

    What your belief/position on these two things?

    Do you believe that the resurrection of jesus took place?

    Do you believe that a historical jesus existed?

    You don't need to demonstrate your beliefs accuracy, I am simply wondering what your belief on these two topics is. I am happy to talk with you further about the topic, but I just wanted to get a quick understanding of your view on both of them first.

    Feel free to respond by email... it's actually my preferred way to talk with people.


  3. Hey Vinny!

    I disagree. For example, Ben Witherngton is quite mainstream in terms of his scholarship in the field of historical Jesus studies. In fact I have recently gained a new appreciation of the Jewish Wisdom tradition in my own work because of Witherington.

    And furthermore, I do not understand why some people are not open to conservative scholarship. Scholarship is scholarship because it is scholarship, and can come from any side of the (mostly artificial?) conservative-liberal spectrum. Even the most respected liberal scholars have their shortcomings (often in a reaction to conservative theology as opposed to history in my opinion).

    Hey Rich!
    Any implication that the Historicity of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus are my only focus would be far from the truth. In fact, if you were to click on the tabs you would notice they are not at all like each other.

    * The Historicity of Jesus outlines what mainstream scholarship believe about the existence of Jesus, and where the hypothesis that he did not exist as a historical figure stands in contemporary debate. This is followed up with a bibliography of works for anyone to follow up.

    To answer your question: I believe the historical method clearly demonstrates that Jesus existed.

    * The Resurrection thread is different to above. It is because I was having a sort of series on the issue when I had more time. So far, it has included scholars in favour and against the historicity of the narrative events surrounding the resurrection.

    In answer to your question, I do not think that my current understanding of historiography would allow me to say that we can prove the resurrection occurred as a historical event.

  4. Witherington may be more accepted within the historical Jesus mainstream than a Gary Habermas, but I don't think that he enjoys anywhere near the status outside conservative Christian circles that Metzger does.

    I am open to any scholar who demonstrates a commitment to basing his conclusions on the most objective analysis of the evidence of which he is capable. I don't expect anyone to be free from all biases or presuppositions, but a scholar should employ critical methods that are designed to offset and expose the effects of those biases and presuppositions as much as possible.

    One of the problems I have is with conservative scholars who work for schools that require their professors to adhere to certain articles of faith. If a particular conclusion is an implicit condition of employment, I wonder how the scholar can even try to be objective.

    One way I gauge whether a writer is practicing scholarship or apologetics is by reading an opponent's work. If the first writer anticipates and forthrightly addresses the counter-arguments, I figure he is engaged in scholarship. If I find all sorts of evidence and counter-arguments that the first writer didn't even hint at, that is the sign of an apologist.

  5. Vinny,

    I do not want to sound like an apologist for Witherington but he is respectable in the HJ field. He has published scholarly work in the field, as well as a book reviewing the field which I often recommend for people interested in HJ studies. If the issue is that he is not the authority, I would say there is no the authority in HJ studies.

    I agree with the second and third paragraphs.

    Regarding scholars vs apologists - I think it would have more to do with consistency of historical method than your scenario. I think most people are guilty of having missed the mark with regard to what a scholar intended to say in dialogue or reviews that doesn't necessitate them being apologist. For example, even I of all people may be guilty of having taken Leif E. Vaage's thesis to its logical conclusion and effectively created a semi-valid strawman. :p