Hinman’s Defense of his Sad Little Argument: Wishful Thinking about NT Scholarship

Hinman’s Defense of his Sad Little Argument: Wishful Thinking about NT Scholarship November 13, 2019

HINMAN’S PATHETIC DEFENSE OF PREMISE (1B) OF HIS SAD LITTLE ARGUMENT

In response to one of my posts defending the Swoon Theory against objections by Peter Kreeft, Joe Hinman presented the following Sad Little Argument (this version of the argument is after I clarified and improved the argument, so it would make sense and not be obviously a bad argument):

1A. Fluid that LOOKED LIKE water came out of the spear wound in Jesus’ side and fluid that LOOKED LIKE blood also came out of that wound while Jesus was on the cross, and those two fluids came out of the wound separately.

1B. IF fluid that LOOKED LIKE water came out of the spear wound in Jesus’ side and fluid that LOOKED LIKE blood also came out of that wound while Jesus was on the cross, and those two fluids came out of the wound separately, THEN Jesus’ heart stopped working while he was on the cross.

THEREFORE:

2. Jesus’ heart stopped working while he was on the cross.

3. If Jesus’ heart stopped working while he was on the cross, then it is virtually certain that Jesus was dead when he was removed from the cross.

THEREFORE:

4. It is virtually certain that Jesus was dead when he was removed from the cross.

Joe Hinman’s defense of his Sad Little Argument (hereafter: SLA) was “pathetic” in part because he chose to use a VERY CRAPPY QUOTE  in support of premise (1B) of SLA, as I demonstrated in a previous post on this topic.

 

HINMAN’S PATHETIC DEFENSE OF PREMISE (1A) OF HIS SAD LITTLE ARGUMENT

In one of my previous posts defending the Swoon Theory, I have argued that the assumptions that Jesus was stabbed with a spear in his side while he was still on the cross, and that fluids that looked like “blood and water” flowed out of the spear wound are dubious because (a) the particular passage in the 4th Gospel that describes this event is historically dubious, and that (b) the 4th Gospel is in general an historically UNRELIABLE account of the life and ministry of Jesus.

Hinman’s defense of premise (1A) of his Sad Little Argument, is to insult me, and to use ANOTHER VERY CRAPPY QUOTE in a pathetic attempt to demonstrate that I don’t know what I’m talking about and that the 4th Gospel provides us with an historically RELIABLE account of the life and ministry of Jesus.

Here is an exchange that occurred between me and Hinman about the historical reliability of the 4th Gospel:

Bowen:
I’m a bit skeptical that Bauckham’s book [Jesus and the Eyewitnesses] has in fact turned 150 years of NT scholarship on its head, and converted hundreds of NT scholars to believers in the historical reliability of the 4th Gospel. That seems more like a fantasy that Hinman wishes were the case. However, even if Bauckham’s book has actually pulled off this minor miracle, and turned NT scholarship around, that still DOES NOT ANSWER my ten detailed objections to premise (1A).

Hinman:
He [Bowen] knows nothing about biblical scholarship I’ve already said it was not that one book alone…
This is not only because of that one book [Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham], it’s a trend involving many scholars:

“But during the 1990s, the “Jesus, John, and History” section of the preeminent Society of Biblical Literature had a solid focus on this question of whether or not the Fourth Gospel is historically trustworthy. And they were moving toward the conclusion that it does, thus in opposition to most of the academy. Members of the panel of this section, such as Paul Andersen, Felix Just, and Tom Thatcher, have now produced three volumes on this subject as editors, with contributing chapters being mostly from section members. Their conclusion is that the Fourth Gospel is historically reliable.

(from a post by Hinman, emphasis added)

 

TWO KEY QUESTIONS AT ISSUE

It is VERY CLEAR from the above quotations that a key issue between Hinman and me is this:

Q1: Does the Fourth Gospel provide an historically RELIABLE account of the life and ministry of Jesus?

I say “NO” in answer to this question, and Hinman says “YES”.   But there is another closely related question that we also disagree about:

Q2: In recent decades has a significant portion of NT scholars shifted from the previously dominant view that the Fourth Gospel is historically UNRELIABLE to the previously minority view that the Fourth Gospel is historically RELIABLE?

I say “NO” in answer to this question, and Hinman says “YES”.  Hinman speaks of this alleged shift in thinking about the 4th Gospel as “a trend involving many scholars”.  In support of this claim about NT scholarship, Hinman puts forward a quotation that speaks of some NT scholars arriving at the conclusion that “the Fourth Gospel is historically reliable.”

An important part of Hinman’s support for his claim that I know “nothing about biblical scholarship” is that I am (supposedly) unaware of a major trend in NT scholarship in recent decades where a significant portion of NT scholars have shifted from the view that the 4th Gospel is historically UNRELIABLE to the view that the 4th Gospel is historically RELIABLE.

This alleged trend in NT scholarship is also an important part of Himan’s support for his view that the 4th Gospel is in fact historically reliable, and thus that we ought not to be skeptical about the passage in the 4th Gospel that tells the story about a Roman soldier stabbing Jesus in the side with a spear while Jesus was hanging on the cross, and that “the beloved disciple” was present and witnessed liquids that looked like “blood and water” flowing from the spear wound.  So, this is an important part of Hinman’s support for premise (1A) of his Sad Little Argument.

The problem here, however, is that Hinman’s view that a significant portion of NT scholars have shifted from the view that the 4th Gospel is historically UNRELIABLE to the view that the 4th Gospel is historically RELIABLE is a FANTASY, the result of WISHFUL THINKING by Hinman.  No such trend exists among NT scholars or Jesus scholars.

If I am correct that no such trend exists, then Hinman’s claim that I “know nothing about biblical scholarship” remains unsupported, and, furthermore, this would also cast serious doubt on Hinman’s implicit claim to be knowledgeable about NT scholarship. Believing in a non-existent recent trend in NT scholarship, as I will argue Hinman does, is a clear indication of Hinman’s own ignorance about NT scholarship.  Hinman is throwing large rocks at me from inside his house of glass.

How does Hinman support this claim about a recent shift in NT scholarship?  He provides ANOTHER CRAPPY QUOTE, just like he did in support of premise (1B):

“But during the 1990s, the “Jesus, John, and History” section of the preeminent Society of Biblical Literature had a solid focus on this question of whether or not the Fourth Gospel is historically trustworthy. And they were moving toward the conclusion that it does, thus in opposition to most of the academy. Members of the panel of this section, such as Paul Andersen, Felix Just, and Tom Thatcher, have now produced three volumes on this subject as editors, with contributing chapters being mostly from section members. Their conclusion is that the Fourth Gospel is historically reliable.

Rather than demonstrating MY ignorance of biblical scholarship, this VERY CRAPPY QUOTE demonstrates HINMAN’S ignorance of biblical scholarship, and how his view of NT scholarship is based on WISHFUL THINKING rather than on facts and evidence.

 

THE SOURCE OF HINMAN’S 2ND VERY CRAPPY QUOTE

The source of Hinman’s very crappy quote is provided in the end notes of Hinman’s post “My Answer to Bradley Bowen on Blood and Water“:

 

 

 

The 2nd crappy quote given by Hinman comes from a blog post written by Kermit Zarley:

So, who is “Kermit Zarley”?

  • Is Zarley a leading NT or Jesus scholar? No.
  • Is Zarley an historian who specializes in ancient history or an archaeologist?  No.
  • Is Zarley a professor of NT Studies or of historical Jesus scholarship?  No.
  • Does Zarley have an advanced degree in NT Studies or Jesus scholarship or ancient history?  Nope.
  • Does Zarley have a graduate degree in ANY academic discipline? No.

What is Zarley’s background in terms of his career and education?

Kermit Zarley was a professional golfer who has a degree in business!

On the About page on Zarley’s blog site we find this information about his career:

Kermit Zarley is known mostly for his 30-year career as a tournament-winning pro golfer on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. In 1965, he co-founded and then led the PGA Tour Bible Study, which thrives today.

On the Author page on kermitzarley.com we find this relevant information from Zarley about his educational background:

What are my credentials for writing on theology? Not much! As for formal education, I have a business degree from the University of Houston and one year of New Testament Greek at seminary.

I’m not an NT or Jesus scholar either.  I too have no degrees in NT or ancient history.  ( My degrees–BA and MA–are in philosophy, and my years of graduate study at UCSB were aimed at a doctoral degree in philosophy.  I completed all requirements for a PhD in philosophy except for the doctoral dissertation.)

However, I am NOT so stupid and ignorant as to turn to a professional golfer who has a degree in business for an accurate and authoritative description of recent trends in NT scholarship!

If I want to know something about recent trends in NT scholarship, or to prove something about recent trends in NT scholarship,  I would turn to someone who was a bone fide NT scholar or Jesus scholar.  I would NOT put forward a quote from a professional golfer with no educational background in NT  or historical Jesus studies as proof or evidence of some alleged trend in NT scholarship or Jesus studies.  I’m just NOT that freaking ignorant.

 

A MUCH MORE RELIABLE SOURCE ABOUT TRENDS IN NT AND JESUS SCHOLARSHIP

Although Hinman’s view about an alleged recent trend in NT scholarship is DEAD WRONG, there has been a recent trend in NT scholarship concerning the 4th Gospel.  That trend is described and discussed in an article by a prominent Jesus scholar named James Charlesworth.  The article is called  “The Historical Jesus in the Fourth Gospel: A Paradigm Shift?” (Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, 8, 2010).   James Charlesworth is a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary:

James H. Charlesworth is Princeton Theological Seminary’s George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature. He specializes in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old and New Testaments, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Jesus research, and the Gospel of John. As director of the Seminary’s Dead Sea Scrolls Project, he has worked on the Qumran Scrolls to make available, in cooperation with more than fifty international specialists, an accurate text with apparatus criticus, an English translation, and an introduction. (from the profile page on Charlesworth on the Princeton Theological Seminary website)

The above article on a “Paradigm Shift” about the 4th Gospel describes and discusses the trend in NT scholarship that Hinman and Zarley are pointing to, but Hinman’s view of this trend doesn’t correspond to facts and reality, as I will show in the next post I write on this subject.

To Be Continued…

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