Friday, November 03, 2017

Next Licona post: Fictions only need apply

My next post on Licona's gospel examples went live today at W4. It is called "Fictions Only Need Apply." Here I examine places where there is at least a minor alleged discrepancy in the Gospels but where Licona unwarrantedly restricts himself to fictionalization theories--sometimes more minor deliberate changes and sometimes rather major. One of the most striking of these is the possibility that John "relocated" the first appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and that she really first saw him with the other women when leaving the tomb. It is possible that Licona doesn't realize what this would mean, but by the logic of the story, it would have to mean that John invented the entire scene in the garden of the tomb between Jesus and Mary Magdalene--a very important resurrection appearance scene. Here Licona simply leaves up in the air whether Matthew or John "relocated" the first appearance to Mary Magdalene, so he cannot even say (as he does in the case of John's wholesale invention of Doubting Thomas) that he concludes that some other theory is "more probable."

In this post I also mention a place where Licona suggests (per Craig Evans and Joel Marcus, he states) that Matthew may have made up the involvement of the mother of James and John in asking that they may sit on his right and left hand. The motive? To cast James and John in a better light. Here Licona does conclude that a different (fiction) theory is more probable--namely, that Mark deliberately air-brushed out the mother's involvement and transferred her words to James and John's mouths. But these are the two theories he treats as "finalists." Of course, Matthew's making up the mother would work to cast James and John in a better light only if the perceptions of the audience were manipulated to believe that the mother was really involved when she was not. Does this not go to show that, contra Licona's and his followers' repeated insistence, such "devices" really do involve misleading readers about what happened?

These are just highlights of the most recent post. My current plan is that there will be four more posts in the series. The next (already mostly written) will be on places where Licona over-reads the Gospels with respect to chronology. (That one will use a fair bit of Greek!) The one after that will be (on the current plan) a theological digression on the relationship of history to theological significance. After that will come another post on over-readings. The last post will concern some miscellaneous examples that I wanted to discuss but couldn't fit in elsewhere. In that last post I also plan to emphasize that I am not claiming that all of the examples Licona discusses can be readily resolved by harmonization but that difficulties in harmonization, even places where one cannot see a good harmonization at all, do not make a good case for fictionalizing literary devices. This, of course, has been a theme of all of my writing on Licona's work.

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