Monday, October 18, 2004

JB15784-Jas #15: Re: John 8:58 

(15784) Jason BeDuhn[Mon Oct 18, 2004 9:18 pm](Re: John 8:58: Jason #15)


You have suggested that I malign you when I say that, as an apologist, you have a commitment "to win by any means." I have said that it was not my intention to malign, but merely to indicate a great difference in our standards for acceptable means of intellectual argument. We see one of those means in your postings over the weekend. I made it perfectly clear why introducing a new line of argument now, when our readers are anxious to field their comments and questions and when my time for this exchange is drawing short, would be unacceptable, because it would not give me time to review your new material. You have now introduced in your post 15 a completely new argument in support of the traditional English translation of John 8:58, one that is not in your book and has not been seen in our on-line debate before now, that is, before the prior arguments of your book and postings had been largely invalidated. This is precisely how I characterized what apologists do in my previous post: they find new defenses of old positions, new justifications for views whose old justifications have been invalidated. Yet you insist that you are not that kind of apologist. You describe your new argument as a "response" to my criticisms in my post 8, thus portraying yourself as simply wrapping up the previous part of the debate, when in fact you have introduced something totally new. Not only that, but by (falsely) portraying it this way, you suggest that I should not be allowed to respond to this material. You say, in your post 14:

"When I have finished posting that response, we will have completed a round of discussion on John 8:58. You will have posted your criticisms of my book; I will have posted my criticisms of your chapter; you will have responded to my criticisms of your chapter; and I will have responded to your criticisms of my book."

This does not even merit a "nice try," because it is blatant high-handedness. Naturally, I do not agree. New evidence has been introduced, new arguments not found in your book have been presented all along. You admit that, right? And now, more new things from you. The fact that you have had three months to respond to my criticism of your book does not seem to induce you to any sense of fair play or "level playing field" now. And in all that time, have I actually introduced a single new argument of my own? I'll have to go back and check. I think it fair to say that mostly, if not exclusively, I have been just responding to each new attempt of yours to dislodge my position and support your own, as you drop arguments tried in your book and in your earlier postings that did not work, and keep piling on new ones, the latest of which is clearly brand-spanking new, as you suggested in your earlier post when you said you thought you could come up with a new argument that did not invoke your "eternal present." You have posted a whole set of new material and then, in your message today, you try to unilaterally declare the exchange over and the forum open with all of your new material unreviewed. This is precisely what I mean by "by any means," since this move cannot be accredited by any recognizable standards of free and fair debate.

I think it is necessary for me, therefore, to rescue you from this self-damaging tactic. I mean, Rob, it just looks bad. People might say that these are the tactics of a desperate man, one who realizes that he has been refuted at every turn and will be again if his opponent is heard from. I would have a hard time sleeping nights knowing that people were left with that bad impression of you. So I need to make the sacrifice of helping you to save face here. Since you have gone away from our discussion for several weeks at a time, either to attend to other things or to develop new arguments, I will invoke this as a precedent to get around the current pressures on my own time. I will afford myself the same privilege you have afforded yourself. I will review all of your remarks carefully and respond to them as warranted. I will continue to respond to your arguments, at a pace of my own choosing. Given the fact that I warned about the consequences of pressing on to new arguments at the expense of our patient readers, I hope they will now understand why your new material merits careful review and comment before we can open things for them. Any other course of action would just be blatantly unfair, as I am sure they will agree. They have my sincere apologies that things have transpired in this way against my best efforts and intentions. But if I couldn't open the forum when I and they wished, neither can you. We will have to wait for the time we are both satisfied. And that will not necessarily mean an interminable refusal to yield the floor. In my debate with Robert Hommel, I gave him the last word after I felt there were no new points that required my response and that we had reached a point of just repeated restatements of our respective positions. I imagine the end here will look something like that.

In your post 14, you said:
"I do not accept any characterization of our differences that would bar me from saying with you, as I do say, `I am an academic, whose single purpose is to get to the truth of a matter, however much I like or dislike that truth, however much or little it serves me personally.' If I thought this purpose was incompatible with what I do as a so-called `apologist,' I would quit being an `apologist' tonight."

This sounds earnest to me and I will accept it. I will give you the chance to prove the commitment you spell out here, and I will publicly hold you responsible for the consequences if you violate that commitment. I will ask you to engage with me in this protracted quest for the truth of the matter until we have both said everything we think worth saying, however long that takes. I will ask you to refrain from fielding questions and comments from others on this site before we have mutually agreed to do so. I will reply over time to every point you have made, and will not preclude you from responding however you see fit. I will confront you with facts that have emerged and will emerge on the subject at hand, and when you find no further way to dispute those facts, I will expect you follow where the truth leads, just as I will when confronted with indisputably proven facts. I will also do my utmost to create a constructive atmosphere of open exchange by freely admitting whatever mistakes I have not already acknowledged as I find them in my review of our discussion. It is perhaps too late to restore this discussion to the level of amicableness it enjoyed at the beginning., but I will try to be patient and generous. I will abide by your request that I consider repeated errors signs of incompetence rather than attempt deception, and particularly convoluted defenses as a matter of fog rather than smoke.

I will work on this as time permits, but I am sure it will be into December before I am able to find the time to respond as thoroughly as you have (when I get to them, it does not take so long; but it is in finding the time to get to them that I am now particularly tied up). May I suggest that our exchange, while being left where it is, also be copied to a separate file on the site for greater ease of reference for interested readers, considering the considerable amount of time over which it has (and will) transpired. Perhaps in making that copy, someone could correct my lapse in not numbering all of my posts. I think both you and I have made mistakes in assigning numbers to the ones that are given just as "Reply to Rob #x." I apologize for not being more consistent.

To Barry: I think we're shooting for 400, he he.

Best wishes,
Jason B.

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