I've resisted responding to this but I keep getting pestered so relented. Here is a link to a very conservative (I try to avoid 'fundamentalist' but I think that some people would use that phrase here) Christian website where someone called Paul claims that in my review of Blomberg's Contagious Holiness I was a bit bad. The reason I didn't want to respond is because I don't make virtually all the arguments attributed to me and there is just empty polemic aimed at me. Anyone can show the problems with an invented opponent!
Paul quotes me once and here it is with commentary:
"But when the result is a historical Jesus who is greater than anyone else and who can do spectacular supernatural things, one must wonder just how the words "historical" and "authentic" are being used."
One wonders where even to begin when trying to understand such a statement and the motivations for it.
Then he does try to unravel my logic with reference to 'implicitly banned categories':
In Crossley's thinking, Jesus could not [bold mine] have been both "greater than anyone else" and authentic. Nor could he "do spectacular supernatural things" and be historical. This is a logical fallacy, one presumably caused by the assumptions of naturalism (that the supernatural does not exist) and humanism (specifically, that no one can lay any claim to inherent greatness over another). One must ask, is God banned from history? Is he unable to act as he wills within his creation? For any scholar really concerned with finding out the truth, assuming such things should be anathema.
I didn't say any of that and naturally he provides no quotations from me. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I have said quite explicitly that such views have as much right to a place in discussion as any. I also argued against Blomberg's specific arguments for such things which I didn't think worked. Incidentally in favour of Jesus being superior Paul provides a defence based almost entirely on John's gospel which does not seem to me to be the greatest evidence. No mention of fourth gospel bias either (naturally). It is as if history speaks for itself and that historically Jesus must have been better. How? From a faith perspective fine. But how do you measure it historically? I'm not saying anyhthing either way but it is something that needs to be considered in a discipline which relentlessly uses the rhetoric of history.
Also, use all the language of logic you want but it will only work if you apply it fairly.
In the view of scholars such as Crossley, any such claims or supernatural acts by Jesus (a significant number of the activities ascribed to him in the Gospels) are just the result of stories growing greater with each telling, to the point that they became the Gospels we have today. Such adjustments to the facts might have been the result of wishful thinking, selective memory, or even deliberate deception on the part of the authors (or communities of authors) who produced them.
That's just a guess which is partially correct. But I've written in favour of a great deal of the synoptic history (not John, true). Not sure I would use the phrase 'deliberate deception', if it is implied that I said that. No, correction, never. That would be misleading and a misunderstanding of ancient concepts of truth. Incidentally, deliberate deception is certainly an interesting phrase...
I feel the question that is at the crux of the difference between such scholars as Crossley and those who accept the historicity of the Scriptures (such as Blomberg) is: what were the people who wrote the Bible trying to achieve? Were they simply ancient versions of "Oprah", trying to make people feel good without actually giving them anything good? Were they just a bunch of simple-minded people, wanting to preserve their traditions in the face of a changing culture? Were they charlatans, for whom deceiving the public was a means of making a living?
That has nothing to do with any opinion I've put forward and has nothing much to do with my motivations. To repeat yet again, I am quite open to a conservative model of the synoptic tradition. Once again he has decided what I think before going on to demolishing. Incidentally is it fair to imply simple-mindedness in this instance?
And there's more:
I've heard it said that biographies are only ever written by those who loved the subject, or those who hated ner. It seems to be the same with the study of biblical literature. Those who study the Scriptures are divided into two groups: those who believe it and want to live it, and those who despise it with a passion. The latter seem to want to set themselves up as the judges of Scripture, whereas the former realise they are inadequate judges, and instead allow themselves to be judged by the Word.
It isn't said that this is referring to me but the implication is pretty strong. But let's just assume I'm implied. I have no hatred for Jesus, the gospels, or the Bible. Yes, there are bits which are unsavoury but that's not untypical for the ancient world so the generalisation just doesn't work for me at least. So if I am implied there has been more inventing of my position. If not, who is he aiming at?
My favourite bit is this:
...cynic in me says that he also looks a rather tormented individual, but that may just be fatigue due to his social schedule...
Can't argue with that.
Seriously, Paul, you don't have to but at least try to tell the truth and not invent my position. Perhaps some quotation from me is worth using. Or find someone who genuinely argues the case you wish to demolish.