Monday, April 04, 2011

There is a reason why commentaries are so thick

I expect that very few of the folks who read Beggars All have read or will read all or even most of the exchange between me and David Waltz on the topic of Peter Lampe. There’s just too much detail, and I’m going to provide more here and in what follows. There is no other way to address the charges that David Waltz has been making, than to go into rigorous detail about the things we are talking about.

There is always a right way to go about doing something, and there is a “quick and easy” way to do something. I tried to mention this the other day, and this notion was mocked and dismissed. For example, let’s begin with one example from his recent “rant”:
JB: In any discussion of “church history,” you have to understand, as Turretin says,
Thus this day the Romanists (although they are anything but the true church of Christ) still boast of their having alone the name of church and do not blush to display the standard of that which they oppose. In this manner, hiding themselves under the specious title of the antiquity and infallibility of the Catholic church, they think they can, as with one blow, beat down and settle the controversy waged against them concerning the various most destructive errors introduced into the heavenly doctrine (Turretin, Vol 3 pg 2).
DW: What has the above quote to do about what the 'early church' believed, and what I have written on this matter—can you spell 'red-herring'?
This is not a “red herring”. This is a description of the method being employed. And David Waltz seems to have learned the method well. What Turretin is saying is that Rome does not – it did not in the time of the Reformation, and it does not do so now – respond directly to charges. They side-step an examination of these charges by claiming “authority”. Turretin then goes on to say that it is the way of the Reformed to patiently work through each doctrine, doctrine by doctrine, and be certain we’re understanding it from Scripture. In that way, we know what is true and what is false “authority”. There are, after all, “most destructive errors [having been] introduced into the heavenly doctrine.”
The arts of our opponents impose upon us the necessity of this disputation that we may distinguish the real face of the church from its counterfeit; nor suffer ourselves to be deceived by those specious and splendid names (destitute of truth) which they are accustomed to repeat with perpetual crowing and great clamor, that they may be considered the sole heirs … (Turretin, vol 3, pg 2).
What’s involved from our side, Turretin says, is “the way of discussion and examination of doctrine.” To be sure, this is “long, uncertain, and dangerous,” and the way of our opponents is “quick and easy,” one might say. But this is the nature of the dispute which our opponents “impose upon us.”

* * *

And so David Waltz has shown up with three “quick and easy” reasons why we should reject the historical analysis of Peter Lampe. And I have dismissed Waltz because not only is his “argument” not an argument, but what he has repeating over these last months is more akin to slur and innuendo. At such times, as recently, when he adds information, he adds very little genuine, substantial information; he merely restates his original charges more slowly; he repeats them in bold and adds color, as a way of providing weight to the non-substance of what he is saying.

His “non-argument” has taken two forms. Here is the earlier form:
Lampe holds that Paul did not write the Pastoral epistles.

Therefore, Peter Lampe is a “Liberal”.

Anyone who adopts the writings of “Liberal” writers is inconsistent.
After it was pointed out (among other things) that Ratzinger, himself once widely acknowledged as “a Liberal”, continues to incorporate liberal methodologies (even as pope) into his biblical theology, then the “argument” changed (knowingly or unknowingly) to something like this, its more recent form:
Peter Lampe holds that Paul did not write the Pastoral epistles.

Holding this is a “liberal presupposition” (of the kind that ALL Liberals have ALWAYS HELD).

This “liberal presupposition” affects the outcome of his work.

Therefore, Lampe’s work is not to be trusted as accurately reflecting the historical situation in the early church.
On this second matter, even if this were true, Waltz gets it wrong. But on both matters, he has equivocated on two important terms, and those terms are “liberal” and “presupposition.”

In all discussions of religion, it is vitally important to define one’s terms up front, and then to remain consistent throughout. Given that this is a blog, and not a scholarly research paper, I may have been lax with definitions. That doesn’t mean that I’ve not been consistent with my own definitions. For example, I’ve written at length about the current state of New Testament scholarship, and I’ve talked about what “conservatives” believe, what “liberals” believe, and how there has been a confluence of method. And further, I’ve noted that this confluence of method enabled both liberals and conservatives to largely (though not completely) agree on the factual content of very many things. To repeat myself on this, there are the things that most scholars, conservative or liberal, have come to accept as historical facts. They may differ a bit on the dates of things – the dating of these things is certainly unknown, but of the events themselves and the general order these events occurred is relatively agreed upon.

This is why every introduction to the New Testament discusses dates of authorship of the New Testament books. Now, keep in mind, there is a great confluence here, too. David Waltz cites James White to me (from memory, not from actual citation, which he is too lazy to go back and find), and tells me I should listen to what James White says about what EVERY liberal believes about the Scriptures.

In the old days, for example, some German liberal scholars believed that the Gospel of John had been written in the late second century. They believed that right up to the time that a fragment from a manuscript of John was found, that dated from the year 125 AD.

You might say, the history and the archaeology forced them into a more “conservative” understanding of the historical facts. This is the nature of the “confluence” I’ve been talking about.

There was a time, too, when the “Pastoral Epistles,” the letters of Paul to Titus, were thought to have been written around 150 AD. But here, too, there is a confluence of understanding (no such early fragment has been found regarding Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus). Yet, as Craig Blomberg reviews Philip Towner’s commentary on these letters, he notes that “Towner rejects the unproven theory of non-Pauline authorship and ably [highlights] the individual distinctive of each letter.”

And again, there is a confluence here; late dating is being squeezed into an earlier and earlier understanding of these letters. New Testament scholars such as Towner and L.T. Johnson (a “liberal” Roman Catholic!) have, in their commentaries, have gone to great lengths to document sound reasons why authentic Pauline authorship should not be rejected, in spite of the fact, as Towner says, “it is not possible to prove the authenticity” of these letters.

However, the difference is minimal between “not proving” and yet “rendering highly probable” that Paul wrote these letters. And in doing so, Towner, especially, goes to great lengths to make the case, including detailed histories of the cities and churches (Ephesus and Crete) to which Timothy and Titus have been dispatched, the destinations to which these letters were addressed, have been found in dispute. We’ve seen David Waltz’s oft-repeated charge:
Lampe’s first presupposition: the Pastorals were not written by Paul, and were composed at a much a later date

The Pastoral letters presuppose Aquila and Prisca still to be in Ephesus (2 Tim 4:19) while Paul is already in Rome. This is one of the historical inconsistencies found in the Pastorals…

For example, when Paul moved from Ephesus to Macedonia, by no means did Timothy remain behind in Ephesus, as 1 Tim 1:3 supposes: Acts 19:22; 20:1-4; 2 Cor 1:1; Rom 16:21…

How did the author come to the mistake regarding Aquila and Prisca?…

Conclusion: In a search for appropriate names to create a literary fiction based in Ephesus, the prominent names of Aquila and Prisca could not miss falling into the hands of the deutero-Pauline author. (Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus, 2003, pp. 158, 159.)
What’s the context, first, of Lampe’s use of these statements, and second, what's the context of Waltz’s [contextless] contention that these statements, pretty much alone, should form the basis of the rejection of Lampe’s other conclusions?

It will seem mundane at places, and that’s why I’ve avoided going too much into detail. But the details are there, and I am familiar with them, and so I feel comfortable to simply reject Waltz’s charges out-of-hand. But in the same manner that Rome, with its all-encompassing bombast asked for the detailed critique rejecting Roman authority that Turretin provided in his day, that Keith Mathison decided was necessary to provide a detailed rejection of Roman claims in his own defense of his work on Sola Scriptura, David Waltz is, in his simplistic and taunting way, asking for the analysis which I hope [Lord willing] to produce in the coming days.

10 comments:

natamllc said...

Again John, it is like night and day when reading your articles and David's.

For me, it comes down to the Presence of God in the here and now, "now" knowing Him when reading what you write.

One thing I would grab off the table, here, and comment on, from what you wrote above is this:

"New Testament scholars such as Towner and L.T. Johnson (a “liberal” Roman Catholic!) have, in their commentaries, have gone to great lengths to document sound reasons why authentic Pauline authorship should not be rejected, in spite of the fact, as Towner says, “it is not possible to prove the authenticity” of these letters."

Every time I read anything David writes in here or over at his blog the question in my mind goes to this question: from whose "spirit" does he write? Where do his words come from? Do they come from the Spirit of Grace or from someone else's spirit?

In the quote above I ask this: "how did they, those who proffered the content of the Bible, settle on the books of the Bible"? Who was guiding them? How did they arrive at the "authenticity" of what was written?

For us today, "now", the nature of it goes to the Eternal Nature of God and the Eternal Word of Their "present" Grace manifested by the "authenticity" of the Spirit sent to declare to us Their Truth.

It goes something like this, from Scripture:

Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

...

Joh 16:12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
Joh 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Joh 16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


I just do not "detect" or "sense" this Spirit when I read what David writes, though knowledgeable stuff. It is a gut sense with me.

Anyway, that's my speel on it!

I leave off this Word from the Apostle Paul, the exhortation we all ought to take to heart:

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

John Bugay said...

Natamllc, again, I appreciate your encouragement.

One of the things I am trying to avoid is the subjective nature of saying what type of spirit a person may or may not have. While I agree 100% with Calvin in noting that we know Scripture by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, there are also external things that we can study and compare.

Towner's introduction to these three letters (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) is almost 100 pages long (including that history of Ephesus that I alluded to). And he is not the only commentator! There really is an incredibly large number of factors which may or may not be used to support Pauline authorship. My hope is to focus on the most important ones and do justice to those reasons.

Ultimately, the objections that Lampe is making do really have a lot of support among scholars. The things he is saying are not uncommon at all. But he makes those statements for reasons that are far, far removed from his ultimate conclusion. And for David to try to push these two factors together as if it were the slam-dunk conclusion he is putting on the table, is just far from the reality of the situation.

David Waltz said...

John, you continue to misrepresent me, with yet another 'strawman'; you said:

"And so David Waltz has shown up with three 'quick and easy' reasons why we should reject the historical analysis of Peter Lampe."

I have stated that I do not reject the bulk of "the historical analysis of Peter Lampe", what I have ACTAULLY SAID is that I reject some of his theories, theories that are not based solely on 'neutral' historical data, but rather, theories that include a heavy dose of theological speculation based on presuppositions—a massive difference from your false and misleading caricature.

John Bugay said...

You are changing your story. In fact, in an earlier post, the whole point of it was that Lampe was doing to the New Testament what William Dever was doing to the Old Testament: "his conclusions include: a pre-monarchy group of “Israelites” is a myth; an exodus of a large group “Israelites” out of Egypt to Palestine is a myth; Moses is not an historical figure; monotheism did not exist until after the Babylonian captivity; the pre-monotheistic Yahweh had a wife (and possibly wives—Mormon apologists love this kind of stuff). Once again, this is what happens when a scholar begins with the premise that archeology and secular history must take precedence over Biblical historicity."

You didn't actually give any details from Lampe; you merely repeated Dever's conclusions and said, "Lampe is doing that."

You have not once, that I recall, interacted in a serious way with Lampe's work.

You paint with an extremely broad brush; This is "guilt-by-association," the only "association being that David Waltz can mention these two names in the same sentence, throw out some of Dever's "conclusions", and suggest (not even clearly say) that the conservative apologist being consistent when he/she embraces some of the conclusions of liberal, critical scholarship that happen to coincide with their particular beliefs on a given issue, using such scholarship polemically against other conservatives who happen to disagree with them?


Aside from these three or four "mini-quotes" out of context from Lampe, you have done absolutely zero real analysis. You have not brought up one iota of what New Testament scholars are actually talking about when they talk about these letters; you have applied the your thoughts on these three or four out-of-context quotes, and you've gotten a little cohort of unthinking cronies who wholeheartedly agree with your non-analysis.

For all the reading you have purported to have done, I don't get the sense that you have any idea what real, conservative New Testament scholars are looking at, or arguing for, or how they do their work.

You said: I have ACTAULLY SAID is that I reject some of his theories, theories that are not based solely on 'neutral' historical data, but rather, theories that include a heavy dose of theological speculation based on presuppositions

Lampe's statements on the Pastorals here are actually used to confirm the very conservative view that Romans 16 is an integral part of the letter. You have never, ever put your isolated quotes into this context. Is that a theory that you reject? Or do you think, "Lampe's wrong, therefore, Romans 16 is not an integral part of the letter.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Lampe's use of the pastorals to argue for a conservative understanding of Romans 16?

I suspect you have no idea how those two things work together.

The only thing that you seem interested to do is repeat your generalizations, and some how wriggle yourself out of the sophistical trap you've gotten yourself into.

natamllc said...

John:

"One of the things I am trying to avoid is the subjective nature of saying what type of spirit a person may or may not have. While I agree 100% with Calvin in noting that we know Scripture by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, there are also external things that we can study and compare."

Precisely! Well said.

One need not have the depth of knowledge you or David have to know the differences between the Holy Spirit using His servant and someone purporting to be His servant basing their argument from their self-contained knowledge base.

My point goes to what the Apostle Paul was driving home when he wrote these things:

2Co 1:21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,
2Co 1:22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

...


2Ti 2:16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
2Ti 2:17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
2Ti 2:18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
2Ti 2:19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."
2Ti 2:20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.
2Ti 2:21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.


I was having an email conversation with the author of several books of his that I was reading. He was gracious enough to engage me in dialogue and inquiry. He let me pick his brain in an in depth back and forth discussion as I was reading through various books of his!

In one of the books we were discussing Infra/Sub, Supra lapsarianism.

I was convinced he was infralapsarian based on his writings.

As we went along, it came out, by way of his complimenting me and himself that I thought he was one way and not another because he was so well developed in accurately portraying the differences of each sort of sequence to the decrees in his writings.

Without a doubt he had the Spirit of Grace upon him. Without a doubt his command of the written word is very good. Without a doubt I wasn't able to discern that he was one way and not the other.

It took my questioning him for him to reply back and reveal just what his belief is.

To me, this is what is important; not so much what or how much one knows, but that they are able to convey the truth of the material being conveyed by them to others. When the Spirit of Truth is working through His servant, the truth is conveyed; and there can be, sometimes, a confusion and doubt because the conveyance is so accurate and the truth telling is so clear.

This isn't the case here with David. I am not the only one who has risen to the occasion to ask him just what it is that moves him and what exactly he believes because of the doubts and confusion that comes with his discourses and comments and challenges in here and at other blogs where he chimes in too.

David Waltz said...
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David Waltz said...

David Waltz said...
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David Waltz said...
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David Waltz said...

John you are, yet once again, misrepresenting what I have ACTUALLY SAID/WRITTEN, even though you correctly identified the specific comparison I was attempting to make between Lampe and Dever:

John Bugay: "You are changing your story. In fact, in an earlier post, the whole point of it was that Lampe was doing to the New Testament what William Dever was doing to the Old Testament"

Me: The above is exactly what I was attempting to convey; as such, I HAVE NOT CHANGED MY STORY AT ALL!!! Liberals do not reject everything the OT has to say, nor do they reject everything that the NT has to say; but, AND THIS IMPORTANTLY, if they believe the Biblical evidence contradicts the secular archeological and historical evidence they side with the latter. I provided examples were Lampe has done this, and you ignore them.

John Bugay: "You have not once, that I recall, interacted in a serious way with Lampe's work."

Me: I disagree, you have a tendency to completely ignore, forget, and/or misrepresent pretty much all that what I have written, which, and I must be brutally blunt at this point, certainly appears to be dishonest. You made the claim that I did not provide any examples of what I thought Lampe's presupposition to be, when in fact the very day before I did so, and YOU CITED THOSE VERY EXMAPLES. You claimed that I had never provided a positive statement of my beliefs, and yet I clearly did so in a thread YOU STARTED and participated in. My goodness John, you certainly make meaningful discussion next to impossible with such practices.

John Bugay: "Lampe's statements on the Pastorals here are actually used to confirm the very conservative view that Romans 16 is an integral part of the letter. You have never, ever put your isolated quotes into this context. Is that a theory that you reject? Or do you think, "Lampe's wrong, therefore, Romans 16 is not an integral part of the letter."

Me: I am not understanding what you are attempting to convey: are you saying that you agree with Lampe, that the Pastorals were not written by Paul, and that contradictions exist between Rom. 16 and the Pastorals?

Are you saying that the position that one takes concerning the authorship and dating of the Pastorals has NO bearing on the outcome of one's view of the overall history of the NT? Does accepting Pauline authorship of Rom. 16 conflict with accepting his [Paul's] authorship of the Pastorals?

I am attempting to focus on how presuppositions influence certain theories held to by Lampe (and other NT/early patristic scholars), who rejects the notion that certain developments (e.g. church government and ministry) in the early (1st century) church (catholic/orthodox) had of apostolic warrant, instead, maintaining that they were evolutionary in nature. One's view of the authorship of the Pastorals has DIRECT bearing on this issue.

(P.S. This will have to be my last post of the day, I just don't have as much "leisure" time as you seem to have.)