Monday, July 09, 2018

Series on John continues, plus article acceptance

If you follow my public content on Facebook, this will not be news to you: I am pleased to announce that I have had an article on the topic of undesigned coincidences accepted for publication in Erkenntnis, a highly ranked analytic philosophy journal. The title is "Undesigned Coincidences and Coherence for an Hypothesis." I received word of acceptance from the editors yesterday. The review process was long and arduous. It went first to two reviewers, who delivered a split verdict (one in favor of publication and one against). From there it went to a tie-breaker. In the end there were two in favor of publication and one against. At that point, the editors looked at it themselves and decided to go with the positive verdict. The entire process, including a "revise and resubmit" component, took about ten months.

The article does not use biblical examples of undesigned coincidences but rather uses hypothetical secular examples. I apply results I have proven in earlier articles on the value of varied evidence and the probabilistic meaning of coherence to the value of undesigned coincidences. The goal of the article is a probabilistic explanation of the epistemic force of undesigned coincidences, and the piece is quite analytic and technical, as are the earlier articles on which it is based. (See my CV here and a summary of some of those pieces here.)

It is worth pointing out here that undesigned coincidences are by no means some special "apologetics thing" nor even an especially "Christian thing." Rather, the concept can apply to multiple reports or testimonies in any context--criminal, historical, or casual. By giving an extensive analysis of example cases, I show how and why the strength of undesigned coincidences arises from their combination of overlap and diversity. At the same time, the force of an alleged UC in any given case will come back to the actual empirical evidence in that case. An abstract analysis can never take the place of the facts on the ground. But an abstract analysis of examples can show that the idea in question has its place in our toolbox for evaluating allegedly testimonial evidence.

I imagine it will be some time before the article actually appears in print, and I will announce when it is fully "out." At this time it can be listed as "accepted and forthcoming."

Meanwhile, my series on the Gospel of John continues with a sub-series on the voice of Jesus in John. Is it really true that Jesus in John talks like John himself but does not talk like Jesus in the synoptic Gospels? I argue that this is an exaggeration, at best, and that the differences of emphasis are well explained by the hypothesis that John himself came to talk like Jesus and that John thematically selects certain scenes and sayings of Jesus that were not found in the synoptic Gospels. I give many examples in which the voice of Jesus is the same in the synoptic Gospels and in John, including language that is thought to be distinctive to one or the other.