Biography

RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

In defense of experts.

Newsweek just posted a lengthy piece by Kurt Eichenwald, which is mostly a birdwatcher's guide to biblical criticism. Biblical criticism is a field that starts with the premise that the Bible is not supernatural or divinely inspired, and aims to find out what one can deduce about history, and the early development of Christianity, from the texts themsleves. And there are thousands of early manuscripts of the Bible and apocryphal works. It's truly a vast field.

First of all, I should say I’m a dilletante in the far-too-many things that interest me, and even more (less) of a dilletante in Biblical criticism, about which I’m mostly ‘meh’. Brought up a Catholic, my interest in the Bible was never going to be that great. I do like history, and so I take an interest in how the Bible relates to the history of the near east 0 - 400 CE. But 'interested layperson' about sums it up for me.

Mr Eichenwald is another kind of dilletante, a journalist. He seems to be a reasonably good one. To this interested layperson, he seems to have done a laudable job in summing up biblical scholarship. Of course, he’s made bonehead errors, that even I, less an expert than he, can see. For example, reputable Judaic scholarship does not claim that anything in the Old Testament was written around 1000 BC. As best I understand it, the earliest books (which are not the Pentateuch) were not written until after the Babylonian captivity. Still, the basic ideas are sound. Matthew Mark, Luke and John were not the apostles of the same name. The earliest existing gospel, Mark was not written anything like contemporaneously. It was probably written some time around the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Matthew and Luke probably drew on Mark and another, lost gospel (Q) as a source. And John is off in left field. Luke was probably also the author of Acts, and probably knew Paul, although his writings post-dated the Pauline epistles. And so on. There were also lots of competing gospels, many lost, and none of this got to be canon until much later. And while scholars will (as scholars do) fight to death over the details, none of the above is particularly controversial.

The problem is, contemporary Christian churches want you to think the Bible is divinely inspired, and so gloss over the small matter that decades intervened between Jesus's life (if there ever was a Jesus), and the very earliest versions of the gospels, of which the manuscripts are lost. If you're going to tell believing Christians this, it's a mistake to take shots at evangelical Christians while also writing a popularized account of Biblical criticism. It’s hard enough for Christians to get their head around the idea that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not the apostles of the same name, without throwing in contemporary politics.

The point is, Biblical criticism is an enormous subject, encompassing the work of thousands of scholars over hundreds of years, and it’s hard for a journalist to get it even approximately right. There are thousands of manuscripts, and entire subfields devoted to textual criticism, detailed study of the Koine Greek, etc. There are actually some biblical scholars who write well, and eruditely, who would have not left mistakes out there to be picked on, and who might have forgone the temptation to take cheap shots at Rick Perry. Why didn’t Newsweek commission one of them to write this?

2 comments:

  1. PEDOFILO CHE INCULA BAMBINI: DANIELE MINOTTI (MALAVITOSO AVVOCATO DI RAPALLO SU FACEBOOK: NAZI, LAVA € MAFIOSI, AGENTE SEGRETO IN COPERTO DI TIPO KILLER). SUA LA SETTA SATANISTA STUPRA BIMBI CON GIULIANO FERRARA, ANSELMA DEL'OLIO E GIUSEPPE LAZZARI!!
    1
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    DI CUI IL NUMERO DUE E' IL SACCO STRA COLMO DI ESCREMENTI, NOTISSIMO PEDOFILOMOSESSUALE TANTO QUANTO, GIULIANO FERRARA ( LUI STESSO CONSIGLIA IL FARSI SODOMIZZARE, QUI

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    http://video.corriere.it/sesso-11enne-arrestato-regista-giuseppe-lazzari-l-intervista-rai/4287e44c-5e41-11e6-bfed-33aa6b5e1635

    DAVA DEL GENIO AL SODOMIZZA BIMBI ( COME I SUOI COMPARI SATANISTI E SATANAZISTI DANIELE MINOTTI, GIULIANO FERRARA ED IL GIA' TRE VOLTE IN GALERA PAOLO BARRAI, NATO A MILANO IL 28.6.1965, DI CRIMINALISSIMA WORLD MAN OPPORTUNITIES LUGANO E WMO SA PANAMA), L' APPENA ARRESTATO PER PEDOFILIA: REGISTA GIUSEPPE LAZZARI ( PEDOFILO E NON PER NIENTE, DA SEMPRE BERLUSCONIANISSIMO... OO CHE CASO, OO).

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  2. 2
    CHE FACEVA SESSO CON UN BAMBINO DI 11 ANNI, A RAVENNA. COME AVRETE NOTATO NEL VIDEO, LA PEDOFILA TANTO QUANTO, ANSELMA DELL'OLIO, DAVA DEL GENIO AL SUO COMPARE PEDERASTA GIUSEPPE LAZZARI. IN QUANTO PARTE DELLA STESSA SETTA SATANISTA E PEDOFILESCA DI SILVIO BERLUSCONI, GIULIANO FERRARA, PAOLO BARRAI DI CRIMINALISSIMA WORLD MAN OPPORTUINITES LUGANO ED IL CITATO NOTO AVVOCATO SODOMIZZA BAMBINI: DANIELE MINOTTI DI GENOVA E RAPALLO, PURE AGENTE SEGRETO IN COPERTO, DI TIPO ASSASSINO. SI, ASSASSINO, PER OVRA E GESTAPO PUBBLICHE E PRIVATE DI SILVIO BERLUSCONI ( VOLETE PROVE ED INIDIZI? IAMM BELL, IA'....GUARDATE QUESTI LINKS, PLEASE.... GUARDATE COME STO PEDERASTA INCULA BAMBINI DI DANIELE MINOTTI, AVVOCATO CRIMINALISSIMO DI RAPALLO E GENOVA, SEMPRE DIFENDA SUOI DEPRAVATI "COLLEGHI", OSSIA VOMITEVOLI PEDOFILOMOSESSUALI COME LUI
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    http://www.devsuperpage.com/search/Articles.aspx?hl=en&G=10&ArtID=1908142&KeyWords= ).

    ED ECCO UN ALTRO TESTO CHE CHIARISCE QUANTO IL FIGLIO DI PUTTANA DANIELE MINOTTI STESSO, DA SEMPRE, RICICLI SOLDI KILLER, DI COSA NOSTRA, CAMORRA E NDRANGHETA, A GO GO!!!

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    http://anti-matrix.org/Convert/Articles_Conspiracy/Conspiracy/Conspiracy-Selected-Articles-140730152020.html

    ReplyDelete