Tuesday, July 25, 2017

John Dominic Crossan and Post-Modern Structuralism - Part II of II

Jon posted a very thoughtful comment and question in response to my article on John Dominic Crossan.

First, Jon's question .

Jon said...
"...Crossan believes that there is no history beyond language—history is not a concrete reality consisting of actual past events, but rather is constructed through language about past events."

Can you provide a quote from Crossan to support this? While I do not have a great familiarity with Crossan or structuralism, what little I have read seems very inconsistent with your argument here. That is, they do not deny that there is a reality and history independent of language, but that our understanding of history and reality are dependent upon and limited to the structure of our language(s).

Very well put, Jon.  
In my last post, I outlined Crossan's views on language, metaphor, history, and reality.  Now, I'd like to expand upon that, and consider how Crossan's structuralism impacts his historical Jesus research, particularly his study of Jesus's resurrection.  Again, this material is derived from my dissertation, which is accessible here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

John Dominic Crossan & Post-Modern Structuralism, Part I of II


Jon posted a very thoughtful comment and question in response to my article on John Dominic Crossan.  I'd like to take opportunity to expand on it - to bring his question out, and provide further discussion of Crossan's understanding of language, history, and reality, and to consider the implications of that understanding upon historical Jesus research.

First, Jon's question .


Jon said...
"...Crossan believes that there is no history beyond language—history is not a concrete reality consisting of actual past events, but rather is constructed through language about past events."

Can you provide a quote from Crossan to support this? While I do not have a great familiarity with Crossan or structuralism, what little I have read seems very inconsistent with your argument here. That is, they do not deny that there is a reality and history independent of language, but that our understanding of history and reality are dependent upon and limited to the structure of our language(s).

Very well put, Jon.  I'm thankful for thoughtful readers!
On that blog post, I responded with a brief citation from my dissertation (which can be found here.).  I mentioned that structuralism (like much of postmodernism) is essentially contested: there is wide disagreement among proponents and opponents alike as to what structuralism means and looks like.  Nonetheless, I am confident that I represented Crossan's views fairly.  

Here, I'd like to include a longer section of my dissertation - I think this is a fascinating subject, and I hope these thoughts are instructional and illuminating.  I'll include two sections, in two different posts.  First, this post will outline Crossan's views; tomorrow, I'll post a consideration of how these views impact historical Jesus research and the resurrection particularly.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

John Dominic Crossan Synopsis, Part III - Response to Crossan's Scholarly Claims

Engaging Crossan's Ideas:


To finish off this mini-series on the lovable Irish scholar, John Dominic Crossan, today we will interact with his scholarly arguments and conclusions (outlined in Monday's blog post).


CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

Structuralism / Metaphor:
Crossan’s embrace of structuralism (the belief that language constructs reality) is self-referentially absurd.  As many philosophers have noted, if structuralism were accurate, it would mean that we could cure HIV by simply ceasing to talk about it—no language of HIV = no infected patients = no further deaths from AIDS.  Indeed, we could also conveniently do away with unpleasant historical realities like the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Black Plague, American slavery, and the Holocaust.  As nearly everyone is aware, there is a real physical world beyond us, that exists and has objective properties that hold regardless of my particular beliefs.  Words may have significant power and influence, but they do not change historical reality—they might alter the way people understand history, but that is not the same thing as constructing reality.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

John Dominic Crossan Profile, Part II - Major Claims

The Works and Claims of John Dominic Crossan


Last week, I introduced a three-part blog series on John Dominic Crossan, one of my favorite skeptical New Testament scholars.  Crossan is delightfully witty, with a tremendous gift for language and communication - even his heterodox arguments about Jesus are couched in beautiful prose.  I talked briefly through the life and times of Crossan in my previous post - in this post I'd like to cover his non-traditional (and, quite frankly, anti-Christian) scholarly positions on Jesus of Nazareth.  Later this week I will interact with those claims, suggesting corrective responses.

MAJOR CLAIMS
John Dominic Crossan publishes widely, and his scholarly arguments include numerous controversial and heterodox conclusions.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

John Dominic Crossan Synopsis, Part I - Biography and Major Works

Who Is John Dominic Crossan?


In my Ph.D. studies, I had the privilege of studying the worldview and scholarship of John Dominic Crossan as the focal point of my doctoral dissertation ("The Myth of the Metaphorical Resurrection").  Much more recently, I completed a short synopsis and interaction with Crossan for Watchman Fellowship.  I'd like to take this opportunity to share the brief article I completed, in three separate posts.  First, today, sharing a short biography of Crossan, along with a list of his major published works.  Next, I'll outline some of Crossan's scholarly conclusions and assertions, focusing particularly on heterodox claims he makes.  Finally, I will analyze and interact with those scholarly claims.  Perhaps this short series will whet your appetite to find my dissertation (available online free full-text here) and digest it!  Either way, I hope it's helpful.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Imagining the Kingdom, with James K. A. Smith

James K. A. Smith.  Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works. Cultural Liturgies: Volume 2.  Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. 198 pp.  $22.99, ISBN: 978-0-8010-3578-4.

James Smith’s 2009 Desiring the Kingdom was the first of a three-part series on envisioning ‘Cultural Liturgies’ to enrich Christian spiritual and education formation.  Imagining the Kingdom continues the narrative and exhortation, insisting that imagination must lie at the center of Christian formation.  Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom is arranged in two major Parts (Incarnate Significance; Sanctified Perception) of two chapters each that follow a lengthy but necessary introduction.  In my estimation, there is considerable rich material to mine throughout Imagining the Kingdom, certainly too much to cover in this review.  Instead, I will give a brief outline of Smith’s arguments, insights, and suggestions, and engage a few essential elements of the book. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Impact of Worldview

Yesterday, I received "Sample Pages" of the first chapter of our soon-to-be-published Christian Worldview textbook (aptly titled An Introduction to Christian Worldview: Pursuing God's Perspective in a Pluralistic World) from our editor.  It is truly exciting to see the project coming together, and I was motivated to share a few thoughts that are in the textbook, in a different format.  What follows is a slightly revised version of an article originally published in The Baptist Messenger, a weekly publication of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, in May 2012.

The Importance and Impact of Worldview

Three friends went on safari in the Serengeti, and observed the majestic beauty and diversity of the African wild.  The first friend, John Luther, commented boldly: “Is not our God truly amazing?!  The Lord has created an amazing array of creatures and landscapes that sing His praises and declare His glory.” 
The second friend, Charles Dawkins, immediately responded: “An amazing array of creatures, to be sure.  But you err, my good man, in ascribing their existence to a Creator.  No, these animals are the result of unguided, purposeless random mutation and natural selection.  We too are the product of a godless evolutionary process.”
The third friend, Shirley Chopra, serenely replied: “I pray you both would be enlightened to the full reality disclosed by our animal brothers and sisters.  For they bear the same spark of divinity that lies within you and I.  Do you not sense them calling out to you, seeking to communicate with your spirit?”
The same animals, the same nature preserve – the same objective truth.  Yet three friends have different perspectives as to what those animals represent.  Why?  Simply put, John, Charles, and Shirley are experiencing a clash of worldviews.