Thursday, October 14, 2004

JB15763-Rob #13: Where we go from here 

(15763) Jason BeDuhn [Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:48 pm] (Re: John 8:58: Rob #13: Where we go from here) [Jason #13]


I find your response utterly unacceptable. Given the call from our readers now for an opportunity to make comments and questions, and the constraints of my timetable, which require me to be away most of next month, there is no place for you to introduce a set of new arguments in such a fashion that I would be excluded from responding to them. You list at length criticisms I have made of your position very early in our exchange three months ago, and pointed out that you have not yet responded to them. You have had every opportunity to do so, but have failed to avail yourself of it. After my challenges to your misrepresentation of the grammars in the first half of September, there was a three week hiatus before you responded, during which you obviously were deciding your priorities for proceeding. At that time, you neither responded to my demonstration of past misuse of the evidence, nor progressed to these other issues you now seem to find so important, but tried to yet another scheme to set aside the PPA that involved the same sort of misrepresentation. This one more example was quite frankly the straw that broke the camel's back for me, and since you refused to accept correction on this problem in the past, I could scarcely see the point in drawing up yet anothe rlong list of faults in your presentation when I had no confidence that we were playing by the same rules.

You write:

There is no "climate of recrimination against" you, Jason. I simply p ointed out that your personal comments about me were "insulting and unjustified." In fact, I made of point of saying that I would not return insult in kind by questioning your integrity or good faith.

The latter was simply a rhetorical ploy, as we both know. In fact by claiming that I was engaged in "ad hominem" argument, which I was not, and describing my remarks as "insulting," you are attempting to establish this climate of recrimination, to somehow put the onus on me for spoiling the party by pointing out the misleading nature of your handling of the sources, and finally to avoid the issue of misconduct altogether. I must tell you that this bullying tactic won't work on me. The recrimination to which I referred is precisely your attempt to dismiss my valid and objective detection of misuse of evidence as "ad hominem." I have demonstrated a consistent pattern of abuse of the sources that leads to the conclusion that you are, for whatever reason, not abiding by recognizable standards of accurate representation. Perhaps I need a bigger thesaurus to find additional ways to convey this point about your conduct in this debate. But I doubt that any way of expressing it would avoid your misconstrual of it as "ad hominem." I have commented not on who you are, but what you have done, and criticized it, as indeed it is, as outrageous. I also find absurd your claim that by identifying you as an apologist I am engaging in "ad hominem." Rob, you self identify as an apologist. Your assertion that an apologist shares the same values in scholarship as an academic historian is quite simply nonsense. An apologist, by definition, is a defender of truths he considers already established and irrefutable. All of an apologist's "scholarship" is shaped by the goal of finding new and better ways to defend what he already takes to be true. An apologist can abandon a line of argument as unsuccessful, but only to be replaced by a stronger argument for the same position. I won't pretend that there aren't hundreds of scholars who claim to be academics who are really in their methods apologists. But that makes them bad academics. An academic must be prepared to follow the facts wherever they lead, as I do. You attempt to further cast aspersions on me by claiming that my book has "an agenda." I spell it all out in the book. The types of passages and terminological issues I selected for that book are precisely where there is theological investment and controversy, because that is where the pressure is greatest on translators to read the original in line with their beliefs, rather than what the Greek actually says. My "agenda" is historical accuracy; but that is not what you mean by the word. Once again, you misrepresent material in front of you to our readers. You say nothing of my high rating of the NAB, put out by Trinitarians. You say nothing of my criticism of the NWT on gender language. You dismiss as trivial the serious defect of most Old Testaments regarding the name of God in order to skew my equal criticism of them and the NWT on this issue.

You say:
The reason this discussion is "descending" into an argument about fair play is that instead of simply stating where you disagreed with arguments andwhy, you chose to make insulting personal comments about me.

You see it this way because you are wrongfully confusing my disagreements with your arguments with my protest that you are misrepresenting the evidence. Wait, let me get out my thesaurus to find the appropriate words for someone who tells people that Grammer x says y when it actually says z . . .

You say:
It would not be "maligning" for you to say (rightly or wrongly) that I had misreported something in a Greek grammar. It most definitely *is* "maligning" for you to question that I am making my arguments "in good faith" and to assert that because I am an "apologist" my "single purpose is to win arguments by any means, to defend [my] faith at any cost," in contrast to your self-proclaimed interest solely in the pursuit of truth.

To question whether someone is making a presentation supposedly of the facts concerning what grammars say "in good faith" or not is not maligning, it is to express a complaint that the person has a consistent pattern of misrepresentation, for which the expression you find insulting is a perfectly acceptable way of stating the case. I have never, as you have on this site, referred to something as "a lie." So I find your taking offense to be disingenuous; either you are sensitive in a way that you clearly expect others not to be, or your objection is simply a way of avoiding the issue.

You say:
Perhaps you think it was generous to question my good faith, integrity, and interest in the truth and to charge that I am simply trying to win the argument "by any means" and "at any cost." I did not find that generous inthe slightest.

You are taking my comments far out of context, of course. I referred to my field as one where people "hold each other to a level of integrity in the use of evidence," and I said, in a very heartfelt manner, that I was having great difficulty in carrying on this discussion with you since I found I could not assume these same standards in your handling of the material. That this is the case is borne out by what has transpired. I very politely suggested that the enterprise of an apologist may provide the explanatory context in which to see your conduct as suited to its purpose, which is simply different from mine, and so creates a gap in our assumptions of how to carry out such a discussion. I don't believe it was necessary for you to respond so angrily to this. But you chose not to address my concerns constructively, which is why our discussion must now end.

You quote me as saying

You said, "I had proposed we both feel free to make our case as we saw fit." It would seem you have in mind two side-by-side monologues without either being interrupted by the other. I'm sorry, but that's a total waste of my time, and you certainly don't need me present for you to"press on" with your own theories.

To which you replied
It is difficult to know how to respond to such wildly off-base characterizations of what I have said. The sentence that you quoted is not even from the post to which you are supposedly responding, but from an earlier post (post #11). You have lifted it out of context from that post, transplanted it into the context of my objection in my post #12 to our personal insults against me, and then somehow come up with the idea that I was objecting to "being interrupted." I cannot even imagine how in your mind this mishandling of what I wrote can be justified. For the record, what I meant by us both being "free to make our case as we saw fit" was that we could "make whatever argument we choose, whether it has precedent in published Greek grammars or not."

Now I have supposedly committed a misdeed by quoting from your post 11, rather than from your post 12 "to which [I was] supposedly responding." Get off it, Rob. Since when are we limited to only the most recent post, and when did I say I was only responding to your latest post? These kind of tactics on your part are low, indeed. Of course, anyone else reading my post can clearly see that I was reflecting on what you must have meant by your previous post given what had transpired in your most recent post, which is either to dismiss or ignore my invalidation of prior stages of your argument, and to get upset when I remind you that your argument to that point had been invalidated, or when I pointed out that your new arguments were guilty of the same flawed use of evidence. You respond with anger and recrimination when I do this, which I read in the most evident way.

You say:
I did not blame you for claiming that I had used evidence in a faulty way (though I did *refute* that claim). I blamed you for your insulting insinuation that I used evidence to win the argument with no regard for thetruth.

Of course, you have not refuted my charges at all. I suppose I will have to go back and collect all of these supposed "mistakes," my demonstration of them, and any responses you found fit to make, in order to demonstrate this once again. That will be my final posting. I beg to differ that I made any "insulting insinuation." I proferred the tentative suggestion that the purpose and methods of apologetic might have cultivated a certain overzealousness in you as regards counting things in your favor when they are factually not. You chose to make that a matter of personal insult, when it was actually offered in the spirit of excusing you for what by my standards is quite serious misconduct.

You say:
What is noticeable in these comments, and throughout your most recent post, is that you offered no response to my substantive reply to your contention that I misused the evidence in my last post on the issues (my post #11). The substantive material in my post #12, about which you said nothing except forone off-base remark (see below), was roughly five-sixths of the post.

You offered no substantive (lengthy, for sure, but not substantial in merit) reply, and I quite properly chose not to engage further in a debate for which there is no evident ground rules of accurate representation of sources on which you are drawing for your (to this point utterly refuted) arguments.

You say:
I responded in my post #8 to your claim that I "repeatedly misrepresent[ed]" the grammars in my post #6.

To which I replied in great detail and at length in my posts 9 and 10, now more than a month ago, to neither of which you have in any way responded. This is what led me to conclude that you regarded them as "interruptions" of an argument you were determined to make no matter how much I had shown your methods to be faulty.

You continue:
In my post #11, I began recasting the issue pertaining to the PPA to meet your demand that the question be addressed solely in the categories already given in the grammars. You found, in my opinion, one minor mistake in a large pool of data, which I immediately acknowledged. I have shown considerable willingness to rethink my claims and acknowledge legitimate criticisms-far more than you have, in fact, as I shall document below
No, this is not accurate. You had said you were going to find a grammatically valid way to defend the traditional translation, now that the ficitonal "eternal present" had been ruled out. Alternatively, you could have paused to correct the past mistakes I had pointed out in your previous argument. Instead, you chose to recommit the same faulty handling of the sources, of which I corrected one instance in one paragraph in an act of supreme restraint, while spending the bulk of my message showing how the construction of your argument was not sound. I somehow have missed your acknowledgement of legitimate criticisms. Perhaps I will find one or two as I review our exchange for the many criticisms that have gone unanswered and unacknowledged.

You say:
I did not ignore your criticism of my past arguments. I quoted from several of your criticisms and explained that I was responding to them by approaching the PPA issue from a fresh angle.

I leave it to our readers to judge if "approaching the PPA from a fresh angle" did or did not entail ignoring my previous criticisms. I certainly missed the sentence where you said, "Since Jason proved my previous arguments to be defective and in error, I am forced to adopt this fresh approach to the question." Can you point that out to me? And I certainly felt ignored when you blithely went on to commit the same faults of misrepresentation that I had detailed in previous posts.

You say:
The truth is that you ignored most of the data I marshaled and the careful qualifications I made, got wrong some of the points you did address, and in this latest post of yours blatantly ignored my refutation of yourcriticisms.

I beg your pardon. I have consistently replied in great detail, showing how the steps of your argument do not follow from one another, how each step is constructed in an arbitrary and contrived manner to suit the conclusions you wish to reach, how your accounting of the evidence is usually erroneous, and how your "refutations" of my criticisms are often beside-the-point efforts to obscure the faults you committed.

You quote me as saying:
You now, belatedly, call one such instance a "mistake."

and comment:
There was nothing "belated" about it. I immediately acknowledged that in one case I had made a mistake.

I said "belated" because you had avoided acknowledging any of your earlier errors a "mistake," but now tried this excuse in the face of my grave concern over a consistent pattern of misrepresenting your materials. I considered your resort to this excuse as too little, too late, after such a history of (one-sided!) inaccuracy.

I had written
You have never, even once, made a "mistake" that did not favor your position. How do you account for that?

To which you replied:
I can actually think of at least one mistake that I made that did hurt my position-one that I corrected later, only to have you criticize me for doing so! That was the mistake of accepting uncritically the classification of Acts 27:33 as a PPA. I should have thought that through more carefully before agreeing to that classification.

You crack me up, Rob. How was classifying this as a PPA a mistake? Oh, I'll tell you how, because you thought it supported you and when I showed it to be a clausally-modified PPA, you then "corrected" yourself by excluding it as a PPA! This is quite obviously the opposite of what I mean by making a mistake that favors me when the fact of the matter favors you. I have yet to see one in your posts.

Then you say:
Again, I have clearly and forthrightly acknowledged mistakes in my argumentation and made a good faith effort to correct them. You, on the other hand, have *not* acknowledged your mistakes. Here are some of the more notable ones (excluding your many misrepresentations of my own views and arguments):

* You claimed that John 2:9 and similar texts are examples of the PPA, when various grammarians have clearly explained that these texts exhibit a separate usage of the present in indirect discourse. After I refuted your claim, you refused to acknowledge that you were incorrect, though you agreed to leave these texts aside because none of the grammars supported your view on them.

I identified John 2:9 as carrying the defining features of a PPA. You argued that it was not cited as such by your selection of grammars, and suggested that in your opinion it fit a different identified idiom. I accepted your narrower definition of the PPA in this respect, since there are grounds for legitimate debate on it. What else were you looking for from me?

* You cited Brooks and Winbery in support of the claim that a PPA does not need a temporal expression or indicator to mark it as such. However, as I showed, their one example of a PPA without such a marker (2 Cor. 12:9) is not a PPA. You acknowledged that it was not a PPA but did not acknowledge the point I made that without this example Brooks and Winbery failed tosupport their statement.

Rob, you did not use "failing to support their statement with a specific example" as a criteria in counting the grammars on this point. You introduced it afterwards, after I showed that you had misrepresented their position, when you were specifically counting grammars by how they verbally defined the PPA, not by the examples they used. This is a classic example of how you have brought in exceptional reasons to include grammars in categories that favor you, but never to include them in categories that don't favor you, and to exclude grammars from categories that don't favor you, but never to exclude them from categories that do favor you. This is precisely what I mean by questioning your good faith in handling this material, and you have done nothing since to show my charge to be unfair to your conduct.

* You falsely characterized the distinction made in some grammars between the PPA and the descriptive present as hair-splitting, when the two usages are distinct in a meaningful way and when as a rule we translate them differently in English. You specifically confounded the term "durative present" as a designation for the PPA with Robertson's description of the descriptive present as "durative."

This is a gross oversimplification of our discussion on this point.

* You incorrectly claimed that I should have assigned a score of only 2 to Goodwin on the specificity of the grammar's description of the temporal marker of the PPA. I had mistakenly assigned it a score of 6, and after reading your criticism showed that the proper score was 5.

Rob, this involves your treatment of "description of the past-time indicator" in the grammars. Your own criterion was "6 points if the grammar specificies that the marker is an adverb or phrase, 5 points if it so specifies but allows for other types of temporal expressions, 4 points if it describes the marker as an adverbial expression, 2 points if it simply refers to the marker as an expression . . ." (there mysteriously is no 3 point score in your scale). Goodwin says, "The present is often used with expressions denoting past time, especially PALAI, in the sense of a perfect and a present combined." In the definitional part of the sentence, Goodwin "refers to the marker as an expression," hence 2 points. The fact that Goodwin gives an example is beside the definitional or descriptional point. Goodwin does not "specify that THE marker is an adverb or phrase," unless of course you take Goodwin to be saying that PALAI is the ONLY expression accepted within his definition, which would be absurd. I don't see the aptness of 5 at all for this. So I stand uncorrected.

* You erroneously claimed that I should have assigned Brooks/Winbery a score of "5 at most" in the same category. I showed that the score of 6 was correct.

What do the words "A verb alone is sometimes sufficient" mean to you, and how do they fit on your point scale above?

So how much more of this are we supposed to go through? Your friends on this site have wisely intervened in a situation that has become little more than a "yes you did, no I didn't" exchange that has lost its constructiveness. I don't intend to engage in this sort of thing. I have better things to do than this. Open the discussion to everyone now, and let us respond to their observations of the debate to this point. Naturally, in responding to their comments and questions, there will be opportunity to clarify or defend past remarks.

Jason B.

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