Friday, April 21, 2017

On the Possibility of Interpolation

If I were to argue that we cannot be certain about Matthew's account of the guards at the tomb both because none of the other gospels corroborate it and because there is an obvious, plausible motive for its invention (i.e., to counter claims that Jesus' body was stolen), no liberal scholar would bat an eye. Moreover, even many conservative scholars would see the need to offer affirmative reasons for believing Matthew's account.

On the other hand, if I suggest that we cannot be certain about Galatians 1:19's reference to James as the "brother of the Lord" due to lack of early corroboration (i.e., no other 1st century writing describes Jesus' brother James as a leader in the movement) as well as an obvious, plausible motive for interpolation (i.e., to clarify which James it was that Paul met), I am met with howls of outrage from liberals and conservatives alike. Moreover, my argument is deemed to be so spurious that it does not even warrant a response.

While I am happy to concede that different factors may lead to different conclusions in each case, the basic logic and structure of the two arguments is nonetheless the same. I am hard pressed to see why the former should be uncontroversial while the latter is viewed as some sort of dirty trick.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Who Are the Snowflakes?

I have very little patience with my fellow Baby Boomers ranting about "Snowflake Millenials."

It is true that we reached adulthood without the benefit of seat belts and bicycle helmets. We played with toy guns and ate candy cigarettes. We told jokes loaded with ethic slurs and ate breakfast cereals loaded with sugar. We learned math without calculators.

So what? It didn't make us tough. We were the original snowflakes.

It was the generation before us that lived through the Great Depression and fought World War II. We simply enjoyed unprecedented prosperity. We were able to get decent jobs without going to college, and we could go to college without mortgaging our futures.

The generations that preceded the Baby Boomers were justified in thinking that all subsequent generations were soft and spoiled. We aren't. As a generation, we had things so much easier than the ones that came before that we have little basis to think ourselves any tougher than the ones that have come after.