Reading Gagnon: Overstated Arguments [Scot]

This week, Scot Miller is blogging about Robert Gagnon’s book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, which many readers of this blog are sure will convince Scot and me that we’re wrong about the gays. -TJ

I think that Gagnon’s conclusions about the biblical texts are basically correct. It seems pretty clear that the Hebrew Bible regards male same-sex intercourse as a sin, though it is silent about lesbian practices. Gagnon tries to argue that lesbian practices are implicitly regarded as sin, too (pp. 142-46), but this part of his argument isn’t very convincing, especially since the texts he had discussed in the earlier part of the book speak more directly of the sin being found in the “unnatural” penetration of a man by another man’s penis, which has nothing to do with lesbian practices.

But if the Hebrew Bible is silent about lesbian practice, Paul isn’t. Romans 1:26 explicitly condemns “women [who] exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural.” Of course, Paul explicitly argues in 1 Cor. 11:14-15 that “nature” also teaches that long hair on a man is degrading, but it is a woman’s glory.

Gagnon assures us on pp. 373-380 that Paul really meant “nature” in a moral sense in Romans (i.e., homosexual practice violates the natural law), while he really meant “nature” in a descriptive sense in 1 Corinthians (i.e., we can see that in nature women tend to have long hair while men typically go bald). Gagnon admits that Paul’s argument about hair length in 1 Cor. 11:14-15 isn’t really “credible” (p. 377), unlike the simple and obvious moral argument in Romans that two men (or two women) don’t naturally fit together like a man and a woman do.

While I agree with Gagnon that Paul is confusing a cultural bias with “nature” in 1 Corinthians, why can’t Paul be confused in the same way in Romans? Gagnon certainly offers a plausible argument why they should be read differently, but I’m not sure his evidence is as overwhelmingly convincing as he thinks.

So my complaint about Gagnon’s argument in the first four chapters isn’t that the conclusions are mistaken, but that he tends to overstates the strength of his conclusions. Let me offer four more examples of what I mean.

First, Ezekiel 16:49-50 appears to interpret the sin of Sodom as pride, injustice, or inhospitality; it says nothing about the sin of homosexual rape. Gagnon has an eight-page argument in which he argues that an “overtone” of same-sex intercourse is “conceivable” in this passage because of the text uses the word for “abomination” (p. 80; see pp. 79-87).

Instead of asking how Ezek. 16:49-50 is really a passage condemning homosexual violence, the more interesting question would be, “Why did Ezekiel explicitly refer to injustice and inhospitality as the real sin of Sodom, but not male rape?” Maybe inhospitality is a bigger deal than it sounds to our contemporary ears. Maybe God comes to us in the form of the stranger, the poor, the needy. Maybe it makes a difference if we welcome or reject the stranger. (While I’m not doing a very good job, I’m thinking about Richard Kearney’s discussion about God and the stranger in Anatheism: Returning to God After God.) So maybe it’s a mistake for Gagnon to worry so much about making sure that homosexual practice is included in a passage that makes no explicit mention of homosexual practice.

Second, his argument about the contemporary relevance of the Holiness Code in Levitical Law is not especially convincing. The problem is that the Hebrew term for “abomination” (tô‘ēbâ) applies both to same-sex male intercourse (Lev. 18:22) and to the abomination of having sex with a menstruating woman (Lev. 20:18; see 18:24-30). It would be easier for Gagnon to argue that both acts are still abominations; however, he admits: “Obviously, one cannot simply say: it is in the book of Leviticus so obey it” (p. 121).

While he is convinced that it is reasonable to follow biblical prescriptions unless there is very good reason not to obey them, once he opens the possibility that “(t)he passage of time produces changing conceptions of what is detestable to God (as well as changing civil penalties)” (p. 120), he opens the possibility that the “abomination” of homosexuality is also a historically conditioned idea.

Third, his chapter on “The Witness of Jesus” is also a bit of a stretch when it comes to the issue of homosexual practice. I agree with Gagnon that it’s a mistake to conclude anything from the fact that “Jesus made no direct or explicit comments on same-sex intercourse” (p. 187). Arguments from silence don’t prove anything. On the other hand, I’m not sure that Gagnon has enough evidence to conclude from the few comments attributed to Jesus about marriage and divorce that “Jesus did not overturn any prohibitions against immoral sexual behavior in Leviticus or anywhere else in the Mosaic Law” (p. 227).

Essentially, Gagnon is arguing that Jesus’ sayings on marriage and divorce connect directly to normative pattern found in creation, and that normative pattern of creation has been the basis for rejecting same-sex intercourse in Leviticus; hence, Jesus would have rejected the sin of same-sex intercourse. I think his argument would have been stronger if he simply said that it was highly likely that Jesus would have accepted the orthodox Jewish belief that homosexual practices were sinful… even though Jesus was obviously willing to challenge orthodox Jewish beliefs (“You have heard it said… but I say to you….”).

Fourth, his argument often turns on translations of Hebrew and Greek words; however, translations are notoriously difficult to assert with the kind of confidence that Gagnon has. Translations may be stronger or weaker, well attested or speculative, but it’s hard to say they they conclusively mean just what the translator thinks they mean. (This goes for people on the other side of Gagnon, who also assert that their translation is really to be preferred to Gagnon’s.)

Nevertheless, after making an eighteen-page argument with numerous comparisions of ancient texts, Gagnon claims, “It is self-evident, then, that the combination of terms, malakoi and arsenokoitai, are correctly understood in our contemporary context when they are applied to every conceivable type of same-sex intercourse” (p. 330). A claim like “2+2=4” may be self-evident; the translation of a pair of obscure ancient Greek words, not so much… especially if it is only self-evident after an eighteen-page argument.

But let’s agree for the sake of argument that Gagnon’s biblical interpretations in chapters 1-4 are entirely correct, and my criticisms are about style more than substance. Why do I still think that the biblical case for condemning of homosexual practice is not as compelling as the biblical case for justice and acceptance of the LGBTQ community?

  • http://twofriarsandafool.com/ Aric Clark

    He does more than just overstate his conclusions. His obsession with this issue drives him to see it everywhere to such an extent that a person reading his work would be led to think it was the core theme of the whole of Scripture. He distorts by the volume and ferocity of his words, not just the specific conclusions he draws. He encourages a narrow focus that blinds the reader to matters of importance.

    There are multiple kinds of hypocrisy. One is “majoring in the minors”. Even if you grant Gagnon certain points of Biblical interpretation he has clearly majored in the minors. He tithes Dill and Mint, but neglects the Justice and Mercy.

    • Chris

      So Gagnon is obsessed, he distorts, he’s ferocious, he’s narrow, AND he’s a hypocrite.
      I haven’t decided if Gagnon’s work merits investigation for myself or not, but…
      Is there a rebuttal in there somewhere? I’m thinking engagement with the actual discussion and arguments would be more productive than ad homenims or drive-by psychoanalysis.

      • http://twofriarsandafool.com/ Aric Clark

        Well, you ascribed those words to the author. I applied them to his work, but fair enough. I’m not really interested in Gagnon’s motivation, and my point can be made without any reference to the author at all. My point is this:

        Overstated conclusions are not an isolated problem of his work (yes I’ve read it). They are symptomatic of the whole. If is not just that sometimes he states his conclusions with excessive certainty, but that the massive size and hyperbolic style of the work is itself an act of distortion. Consider this: if I spend an hour talking about one subject and 5 minutes talking about another what does that communicate about the relative importance of the subjects? This book reaches into scriptures that are at best tangentially connected to sexuality, and some scriptures that are not connected at all in such a way that it gives the reader the impression that the Bible is a book all about how much God hates homosexuality. That isn’t remotely true – even if we grant that some of Gagnon’s conclusions about specific texts are accurate, which I’m not willing to grant in several cases.

        • Chris

          “the massive size and hyperbolic style of the work is itself an act of distortion.”

          This seems to be the essence of your refutation, which I think is rather void of substance. It reminds me of a time when I was working under a boss that had erroneously accused me of negligence with (what I felt) was improper justification. He went on at length with various accusations about how I was guilty of poor performance. I was forced to respond with a cumulative case for myself as to why I was being evaluated improperly. In the end I was able to appeal to higher level management and they agreed that my supervisor had mischaracterized, or not assessed correctly, my performance. He always resented that he had felt “shown up” but I had no choice. I was flabbergasted when he once said to me: “Well, if you’re going to be so picky about it.” To which I responded, “I’m only being picky because you’re being picky” and that I had no other choice and that I was forced to defend myself. It’s the same thing here. I haven’t read Gagnon’s book as I’d stated, but your response, and that of some others, feel and sound resentful because you’ve been “shown up” so to speak. Sure if you take Gagnon’s book in isolation, out of the blue as it were, you’re going to say, wow, why’s this guy so obsessed? But knowing all of the literature that has come out to the contrary, it’s not without warrant that he might feel the need to respond in great detail. Especially if he has the credentials to do so.

          “if I spend an hour talking about one subject and 5 minutes talking about another what does that communicate about the relative importance of the subjects?”

          It doesn’t communicate anything in particular, except perhaps that the longer discussion might have been called for in a particular instance. The bible doesn’t just talk about atonement either. But does that mean that shelves upon shelves attempting to unpack the meaning of the atonement (add Tony’s to the pile) make a distortion of the Bible? Nearly any important topic in the bible that you can mention has generated volumes of literature, some by a single, individual author. A work may be voluminous if for no other reason than it’s required to be.

          BTW, this statement: “His obsession with this issue drives him to see it everywhere to such an extent…” IS ascribing words to the man and not his work. Classic fallacious argument via ad homenim.

          Aric, sorry but your points are vacuous.

  • Frank

    So homosexual behavior is a sin according to the bible. Given that fact what does justice, acceptance and mercy look like?

    • http://twofriarsandafool.com/ Aric Clark

      Nah. There are plausible interpretations of a few passages of scripture that label limited aspects of what you call “homosexual behavior” sinful or ritually impure. This is an example of overstating conclusions.

      • Frank

        Actually I have yet to see any plausable conclusion other than all homosexual behavior is sinful.

        What scriptural proof can you provide for your assertion?

  • Ancius

    “…if he simply said that it was highly likely that Jesus would have accepted the orthodox Jewish belief that homosexual practices were sinful….”

    Consider two ways of interpreting the subjunctive claim (I find the first more plausible than the second):

    (A) it is highly likely that Jesus would have affirmed the Jewish orthodox position upon Peter putting to him the following question: “How do you feel about Matthew and I occasionally having sex with each other during our discipleship?”

    (B) it is highly likely that Jesus would have affirmed the Jewish orthodox position if he were intimately acquainted with the circumstances surrounding gays and lesbians in the 21st century and he was defining his position with conscious regard for those circumstances and the influence that his statement would have.

  • Evelyn

    I think that two passages of this blog point towards a definition of sin that is different from the one usually supposed:

    1) “Why did Ezekiel explicitly refer to injustice and inhospitality as the real sin of Sodom, but not male rape?”

    2) “The problem is that the Hebrew term for “abomination” (tô‘ēbâ) applies both to same-sex male intercourse (Lev. 18:22) and to the abomination of having sex with a menstruating woman (Lev. 20:18; see 18:24-30)”.

    I think that the answer to “1″ is that sin is a matter of a person’s perceptions and misunderstandings (i.e. mental processes). It isn’t the actual manifestation of the physical act that results from sinful thinking. Therefor, inhospitality and injustice are sins because they are ways of thinking whereas male rape and same-sex intercourse are abominations because they are physical acts that result from ways of thinking that are typically sinful. In some strange world it may be possible for sex to occur in a way that isn’t sinful but our sexuality is usually couched within so many sins that it itself actually becomes sinful (when it is really just abominable unless it is for the purpose of creating a child).

    • KJ

      I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that male rape is included in the acts of injustice and inhospitality.

      1. I visit a town and people are fairly rude and inhospitable…but they don’t rape me = not the nicest folks, but I’m glad I didn’t get raped.

      2. I visit a town and folks offer me a meal, a bed to sleep in and a raping to go along with it = nice folks….other than the fact that they raped me.

  • http://www.craigladams.com/blog/ Craig L. Adams

    What Aric said in his first paragraph.

    The volume and ferocity of Gagnon’s words seem to be an attempt to end debate, not open up a conversation.

  • toddh

    I’ll second the notion that he is not conservative enough in his exegesis, meaning that he is too willing to claim certainty for his conclusions when certainty may not be warranted. I think this is especially true for his treatment of the Noah story, which he claims also most likely involved homosexual activity. While it’s fair to raise this as a possibility for the story, it just can’t be asserted with the kind of certainty that Gagnon attaches to it.

  • Frank

    And the problem with that is? Shouldn’t we all know what the bible says on the subject? Shouldn’t we all know if homosexual behavior is a sin or not?

    The problem with always having a conversation is that you never land anywhere and therefore never have to be held accountable. It’s very convenient and a huge cop out!

    • http://www.craigladams.com/blog/ Craig L. Adams

      I think if neither party of (let’s say) a two party conversation actually landed anywhere, the conversation would be rather pointless. But, saying “here is where I land on this issue” need not mean “and I am not open to any other information or considerations.” An example would be interfaith dialog. This is only helpful to the participants if genuine differences are upheld. Otherwise, it turns into a generic religion club — and nothing is actually learned.

      • Frank

        Point taken Craig but at this point both sides of this issue have said all there is to be said right? What’s left?

        The fulcrum of how we move forward is whether homosexual behavior is a sin or not. I think all the evidence is out there already and most agree, even Scot it seems, that the bible does indeed say homosexual behavior is a sin. So what now? More conversation about that fact? Seems to be that the conversation has to now be:

        Now that we know the bible is clear that homosexual behavior is a sin what do we do in our gatherings and our churches and how do we best respond to those Christians who call themselves gay?

  • Curtis

    Anyone who thinks that a man’s body doesn’t naturally “fit together” with another man’s body is not being very creative, as well as being more than a little phallically obsessed.

  • http://www.craigladams.com/blog/ Craig L. Adams

    But, here’s my challenge to Scot (but, I’m assuming he will attempt to address this): Why would justice considerations cancel out all other moral considerations — especially in the case of a behavior so strongly (“let’s agree for the sake of argument that Gagnon’s biblical interpretations in chapters 1-4 are entirely correct”) condemned.

    • Brian MacArevey

      I second Craig’s question. I hope Scot deals with it in upcoming posts.

    • Frank

      That’s the critical question isn’t it? Let’s see what the answer is.

  • Basil

    Scot

    This is very helpful. I always found the interpretation of the story of Sodom as a condemnation of homosexuality to at odds with the cultural context. Ancient Jews, like other Semetic peoples, would have been honor bound to protect visitors and guests in their midst, and ensure their well being (that social norm is actually still true in Middle Eastern cultures, particularly in more tribal areas). In a tribal context, the norm of hospitality to visitors is core and necessary social value. The rape of the guests was first and foremost a violation of those norms. It is in that context that Ezekiel words can be easily understood. Homosexuality itself was a non-issue in this story, at the very least because you cannot logically equate a same-sex rape (definitively a non-consensual act) to all homosexual relationships — whatever else you may think of those relationships.

  • ME

    “Why do I still think that the biblical case for condemning of homosexual practice is not as compelling as the biblical case for justice and acceptance of the LGBTQ community?”

    The biblical case for acceptance of the LGBTQ community is rock solid, just as is the case for biblical acceptance of the prisoner community, the football community, the national association of realtors, etc.

    The biblical case for homosexual sex not being a sin is a littler harder sell.

    Neither side on this issue should claim certainty because we just don’t know for sure one way or the other.

    • Curtis

      “Neither side on this issue should claim certainty because we just don’t know for sure one way or the other.”

      Exactly. But we do know with certainty how Jesus teaches us to treat each other.

      • Frank

        Actually we do know rhe bible is pretty clear.

        And yes Jesus says neither do I condemn you so go and sin no more.

  • Susan Frederick

    Since God looks not upon the outward appearance, but upon the heart, then it seems to me what determines something to be a sin (or not) would lie in that arena. I don’t believe either the Hebrew Bible or Paul’s letters address the phenomenon of same-sex orientation, much less a same-sex love relationship.
    I’m guessing heterosexuality was simply assumed (like the earth being flat and the center of the universe was also assumed). As our understanding of the universe and our own humanity has expanded, so should understanding of what is moral and immoral. In fact, I have come to wonder if much of the “morality” prescribed in scripture isn’t actually more rooted in culture and tradition than in divine dictation. There are some pretty bizarre prescriptions in Leviticus–like stoning rebellious children and forcing a raped woman to marry her rapist–that I would find it difficult to ascribe to the Abba of Jesus.

  • http://www.theologoholic.wordpress.com Joseph Morgan-Smith

    Thanks for doing this, Scot. I failed to make it all the way through Gagnon’s book myself. But that was several years ago, it’s probably time that I had another run at it. Is there a “the book,” comparable to Gagnon’s, from the other side. To be honest I’m still a swing voter on this issue and I’d like to look at the best examples of both sides of the argument.

  • Curtis

    My problem with all of this speculation and hand-wringing about what the Bible does or does not say about homosexual practice is that we are trying to judge centuries-old societal pratices and and mores through a 21st century societal lense, and I don’t see how that can make any sense.

    I’m quite sure our 21st century concepts of sexuality, or even concepts of self identity, would be quite foreign to anyone living in the 10th century B.C. I’m quite sure that “sexual identity” had no meaning in the 10th century B.C. I’m quite sure that sexual behavior that was acceptable and normative in the 10th century B.C. would be quite unacceptable and land you in prison if you did it today, and the converse is true as well.

    So why does anyone obsess about centuries-old writing about behavior that is totally foreign to us and has no modern analogy, even while our modern society would be totally foreign to those authers and our practices would have no analogy in their world.

    Certainly, the point of the Bible is to lay out a story about how humans relate to God, and how humans relate to each other, and to lay down some principles and lessons to keep those relationships healthy. It is absurd to think that the point of the Bible is to give prescriptive instructions about how human body parts should be aligned relative to each other.

    • Frank

      I guess it comes down to whether you believe or ignore the following:

      Hebrews 4
      12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

      Isaiah 40
      8The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

      John 10
      35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came; and the Scripture cannot be broken.

      Psalm 119
      105 Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

      Matthew 4
      3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

      Luke 24
      44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

      2 Peter 3
      15 And regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

      Psalm 119
      130 The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple.

      2 Timothy 3
      16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

      • Curtis

        Jesus summarized all of these well, and taught us how to obey the law and “sin no more” in Matthew 22:37-40
        ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

        • Frank

          Yes but wha does that have to do with your post stating that “It is absurd to think that the point of the Bible is to give prescriptive instructions about how human body parts should be aligned relative to each other.”

          Not absurd at all given what scripture says about itself.

          And BTW sinning does show love to God or anyone else so once again whats is your point?

  • Susan Frederick

    And the problem with all of those superlative “scripture” and “word of God” claims is in establishing definition of those terms that we can actually agree on.

  • Chris

    Scott,

    I generally disagree with your evaluation, but I can’t too much, because I haven’t read Gagnon’s work for myself. I want to give you credit for engaging Gagnon’s work, which seems to be the tour de force that people go to on this topic. While others want to run him down as a person and possibly even as being a hater, you’ve engaged the book intelligently, I think. If I can sum up your view it’s this.

    I might be wrong. He might be wrong. But if I am wrong I would rather err on the side of inclusion.

    Not a lot of nuance but is that fair? I actually think that this is a view that people on opposing sides can work from and begin to actually even just talk to each other. Like a good post-modern you make a lot (too much I think) out of things like the slipperiness of translation and culturally conditioned biases. But to me I believe the above summation is your strongest argument.

    Now if I could I’d like to add a couple of little critiques.

    You’d said: “Translations may be stronger or weaker, well attested or speculative, but it’s hard to say they they conclusively mean just what the translator thinks they mean.” You’d also said elsewhere that every translation is an interpretation. But in my view these statements overstate things as much as you accuse Gagnon of doing. I haven’t bought into the post-modern ethos as you have for several reasons. Here’s a couple.

    If you speak a second, or third, or perhaps even a fourth language you understand that translation can have solid and truthful meaning or equivalence. If we didn’t believe that there would never be a reason for taking up a foreign language. Yes, when I translate in my head I’m making evaluations as what might be the best word to use in a particular instance, but this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to capture the spirit of what was originally said. When you say: “it’s hard to say they conclusively mean just what the translator thinks they mean.” I think a couple of things mitigate that statement. First, saying it’s hard is not the same thing as saying it can’t be done. Yes it’s work, but I don’t think it’s as down right near impossible as post-moderns like to make it out to be.
    I’ve read Brothers Karamazov, which was a translation. Are you telling me that I really didn’t read it? Or I only thought I read it, but that I can’t be too sure? Or that it’s actual meaning is probably lost to me? There are not only linguistic differences in that novel, but many cultural ones as well. Yes, you and I based on how we’re hard-wired may glean different insights from a piece of literature like this, but does it then follow that no consensus, ever, as to its content could be established? You have to delve pretty deeply into a lot of postmodern speculative philosophical machinations for it to bridge that divide. That’s too wide a chasm for me to cross, and I think it’s too wide for most reasonable people as well. It’s what you have to get people to buy into if you hope to sway people. Good luck with that.
    Second, not having read Gagnon’s book I can’t speak to the certitude you claim that he uses which you find so offensive or objectionable. But I’m concerned about the re-stating of views that conservative scholars don’t really hold. As far as I know, verbal perfection in translation is not a view that anyone actually promotes. Implying as much sounds like straw-manning. Give a view of your opponent that he really doesn’t believe and then proceed to knock that view down. Conservative Christian scholars (of which I am not), as best as I can tell, although they hold to verbal plenary inspiration, understand that this is an ancient text that we’re dealing with. That we must take into consideration the context of the culture in which the text was written. That we must also take into consideration the context of the particulars of the narrative and it’s place within the wider narrative, and that we must also take into consideration our own cultural context through which we filter the information, and so on. I don’t believe this is lost on conservative scholars. Not the ones I’ve read or heard. I just think the degree to which you stridently assert it’s severity, or gravity is more speculative and not as indisputable,

    to place the shoe on the other foot.

    • Scot Miller

      Chris, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your reading the posts, and I think you were fair with my conclusion. (Yes, I know I’m a bit wordy, however. Been that way since high school, I think. All of my posts could do with some judicious editing, in my opinion.)

      I’m not saying that translations are impossible, but I am saying that translations are themselves acts of interpretation. Moreover, my links to Gadamer and Quine were my feeble attempt at explaining why translations are so difficult.

      I also think interpretation is required when human beings speak the same language. The paradigm for interpretation is dialogue between two people. I say something, you respond to what you think I said, I try to revise what I say, or to correct what I think is a misunderstanding, and then you respond to what I say, etc. Understanding takes place in the dialectical exchange where we can mutually correct and understand each other.

      When it comes to written texts, it is more difficult to engage in a dialog, since a living partner is missing, and all we have is the linguistic artifact written in a particular place and time and language for a particular purpose. When the text is in a foreign language, we make choices as to what those words mean in our contemporary situation. We may get it right, but probably we lose some of the nuances of the text.

      But interpretation isn’t an exact science, and so we can reach an understanding of what a text means. But we fool ourselves if we think that we can grasp exactly and identically the finally the True meaning in a text. But we can get it pretty close, which should be good enough.

      Gagnon is a well-educated biblical scholar and accepts most of the main conclusions of modern scholarship. He is no literalist. But he does tend to present his case as if his were the only plausible reading, or the only well supported and complete reading, and anyone who disagrees with him must have some major defect in their thinking or scholarship. I’ve read quite a few books in biblical studies, and none of them are as insistent or confident of their conclusions as Gagnon is of his. (His responses to book reviews, which he posts on his website, aren’t as even-handed as he tries to be in his book. Many of his responses border border on ad hominems.)

      I think he overstates his case because he is a partisan. He believes he is on the side of right against the hordes or liberal skeptics and Bible-haters.

      I hope I wasn’t uncharitable to Gagnon. I think I was being truthful, however.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X