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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Staff-Student Biblical Studies Football


Well, in the midst of the chaos of end of term there was the highly anticipated Staff-Student football/soccer match. I'll leave details of the commentary for another day but just to note the performance by Keith 'Anderson' Whitelam.

I heard on the terraces the following song and in the interests of taste and self preservation I couldn't find missing words:

'Whitelam-lam-lam' (tune: 'Agadoo'; lyrics: Black Lace; apologies to the Anderson song):

Whitelam-LAM-LAM
He's better than Kleberson,
Whitelam-lam-lam,
He's our midfield magician
On the left, on the right [well, left again really]
Do the samba dance tonight,
He is class, he is crass
and he [blank] on [blank]

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fergie in Franco Jibe at Real Madrid

Sir Alex Ferguson

Or more reasons to like Fergie...

From the Mirror:

Sir Alex Ferguson last night taunted Real Madrid about their Franco past as he savaged them for trying to poach Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ferguson is furious with the Spaniards and club president Ramon Calderon over the way they have attempted to unsettle the winger.

And he hit back by dredging up Real's links with Spain's former fascist dictator, who made sure his favourite team benefited at the expense of their rivals.

"You get used to this, Madrid's behaviour on these things," said the angry Manchester United boss. "I read about Calderon making the great statement that slavery was abolished many, many years ago.

"Well, did they tell Franco that? Jesus Christ! Eh, give me a break!

"It doesn't matter which player it is, the ones you want to keep, you have to work hard to keep. In this modern day, that's a fact."

Ferguson reminding Real of a past they would rather forget is likely to stir up a hornets' nest in Spain, but he clearly feels it is time the gloves came off in the fight for Ronaldo.

He is sick of Real's antics and contrasted their arrogant and dishonourable behaviour with that of their bitter rivals Barcelona and Europe's other top clubs.

"Great clubs, clubs with great morals like Barcelona, have far better morals than Real Madrid will ever have," he added.

"We know Real Madrid aren't the only club who'd be interested in Ronaldo, but the others don't come out and say it.

"Do you not think we've had much interest from the big clubs in Europe about our best players? Of course we have, but they don't get into the nonsense Real get into. They've no moral issues at all. They think that they can ride roughshod over everyone, but they won't with us."


I like this story so much, I'll also mention the Telegraph version to bring out the nuances of another slice of classic Fergie:

Ferguson had become increasingly irritated by Real Madrid's public flirtation with Cristiano Ronaldo. And when he returned to Manchester after a long, draining and delayed flight from Moscow and saw that the Madrid president, Ramon Calderon, had reminded Ronaldo that "slavery was abolished a long time ago", his temper went.

"You get used to Madrid's performances on these things," said the Manchester United manager.

"Ronaldo has four years left on his contract and then Calderon makes this great statement that slavery has been abolished. Did they tell Franco that? Jesus Christ."

Even if Ronaldo demanded to be sold, it is unlikely that Ferguson would want to do business with Real. "In terms of clubs, there are some who have great moral issues, like Barcelona [a club persecuted by Franco because of their separatist, Catalan roots] and they have far more of a moral standing than Real Madrid will ever have," he said.

"Madrid have no moral issues at all. They think they can ride roughshod over everyone but they won't do it with us..."


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Champions' League Final, Man United 1-1 Chelsea, 6-5 penalties






Well, well, well. What an evening, eh? First the league and now the Champions’ League…if only the easier FA Cup was won and Portsmouth were put away as they should have been we’d have another treble on our hands. But hey can’t really complain, can I?


The game itself was more open than I expected. I was particularly pleased to see Tevez start. Vidic was probably man of the match for me though enjoyed that long, long pass from Rooney to Ronaldo. The opening goal was beautifully crafted. If United had put away some of those other chances in the first half it could easily have turned into a demolition. But the VERY flukey but typically
Chelsea goal right on half time effectively turned the game.


The second half just screamed out for
Anderson. I can hardly moan about Fergie’s management but Anderson could have made a big difference. Still extra time was more United I thought. Giggs every so nearly won it then…


Glad to see the big diver Drogba get sent off for a slap and then still moan. It seems (at least according to
Chelsea) that he would have taken a penalty. Shame. Penaltieswere pretty unbearable but excellent drama. I also knew (as it seems everyone else did) Ronaldo would miss his penalty. Cech would never fall for the Ronaldo delay and was bound to be studying his technique all week. Ronaldo should have done what everyone else did: just hit it! Poor old John Terry slipping when he should have won it. Ah well, you win some, you lose some, eh? Disappointed that Ashley Cole didn’t mess up his penalty (though he gave it a good go) but on the plus side he has now lost two Euro finals so every cloud… Anelka, who didn’t look remotely bothered (he has a winners medal, doesn’t he?) hit an ok penalty but Van Der Sar (or Tsar as more than one newspaper put it – come on, be fair, it was a long night for those drunken hacks) apparently knew where he would hit it. Like a true pro…


Good to see Giggs not only break Bobby Charlton’s record but effectively get the winning penalty.


Another big, big achievement for the great Fergie. I still think his 1999 treble team was better, at least as a unit and for the massively attacking mentality, but this team could go on to win more and more.
Anderson could turn out to be a crucial player in the long term and it sounds like Tevez will be around for some time now. A right back is needed even though Wes has done well this season.

Another great highlight 1. I’ll give Chelsea fans credit here: the banner with ‘Scouser Free Zone’.

Another great highlight 2. Watching Chelsea’s former United suit Peter Kenyon not winning. There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by hate.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Nottingham Conference on Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth

The Dept of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham are running a conference on Razinger's book on the historical Jesus, 'The Pope and Jesus of Nazareth' (19th and 20th June 2008). This is a paper I've particularly enjoyed working on. There are also some heavyweight scholars on the programme. Should be very good fun, I think. Here are the papers:


19th June

Keynote Address: Archbishop Javier Martínez (Granada): ‘Christ of history, Jesus of Faith

Questions and Discussion (chaired by Prof. John Milbank)


20th June

Session 1: Perspectives from Biblical Scholarship

Prof. Walter Moberly (Durham): ‘The Use of the Old Testament in Jesus of Nazareth

Prof. Markus Bockmuehl (Oxford): ‘Lessons learned from Reading Scripture with Pope Benedict’

Dr Roland Deines (Nottingham): ‘Can the “Real” Jesus be Identified with the Historical Jesus?’


Session 2: Perspectives from Systematic Theology

Prof. Henri-Jérôme Gagey (Paris): ‘Between Theology and History: A Question of Epistemology’

Olivier-Thomas Venard OP (Jerusalem): ‘Does the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels really say nothing different from the Prologue of John?’

Dr Simon Oliver (Lampeter): Jesus and Eucharistic Exchange: Reflections on Cudworth and Ratzinger’

Dr Angus Paddison (Nottingham), ‘Following Jesus with Pope Benedict’


Session 3: Panel Groups

Panel 1:
Dr Richard H. Bell (Nottingham): ‘On the Transfiguration’

Dr Douglas Knight (London): ‘Benedict on the Whole Christ’

Panel 2:
Dr Jane Heath (Aberdeen): ‘Burckhardt’s Greeks and Ratzinger’s Jesus’

Dr James Crossley (Sheffield): ‘Historical Criticism and the Construction of Judaism in Ratzinger’s Jesus of Nazareth’

Panel 3:
Luke Tallon (St. Andrews), ‘The Evangelical Dialogic of Joseph Ratzinger’s Own, Personal Jesusbild

Martin Bauspieß (Tübingen), ‘Event and Testimony’

William Daniel (Nottingham), ‘Whose Jesus? Which Christology?’


Session 4: Historical, Jewish and Muslim Readings

Prof. Geza Vermes FBA (Oxford): ‘A Historian’s Perspective on the Pope’s Jesus’

Prof. Mona Siddiqui (Glasgow): ‘Seeing the Face of the Lord – Hope or Heresy?’


Session 5: Final Reflections

Fr Fergus Kerr OP (Edinburgh): ‘Reckoning with the Originality of Jesus: Where Did Christology Come from?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Casey responds on son of man

I received the following email from Maurice Casey in response to Mike Bird's review of his book. Just to be clear, these are Maurice's views and he asked if it was ok to post them and I happily will, of course. I believe he has also sent a version to Mike.
Dear Michael,

It was good of you to take the trouble to review The Solution of the ‘Son of Man’ Problem. It was also good that you summarised it at some length, as most of your readers are unlikely to read it, and a lot of the information in your summary is perfectly accurate.

There are however some serious misrepresentations, which I felt I should write to you about. One is your “implied reader”. His existence is just as mythical as you say it is, but it is you who invented him, not I. I tried to write as a critical scholar. I learnt to be a critical scholar at the university of Durham, where I was taught mostly by Christian scholars. In the preface to this book, I particularly thanked Kingsley Barrett, who supervised my doctoral thesis when he was more famous in the valleys of Durham as a charismatic Christian preacher than as a New Testament scholar. I always respected that, because he is a man of unimpeachable integrity who is never deliberately biased, and who never discriminated against anyone of different convictions, nor attributed to us opinions which we did not hold. Subsequently, I have learnt much from other critical scholars who are Christians, such as Roger Aus, Matthew Black and Ed Sanders, and from critical scholars who are Jewish, such as Alan Segal and Geza Vermes.
I have never claimed to be more objective than such scholars as these. Objectivity is in any case a limited virtue, unquestionably essential when for example counting how often an author uses any given word, so much so that objectivity in such circumstances needs no defence, because it is never questioned. It is however a limited virtue when trying to understand human beings, whether individuals such as Jesus, or major social events such as the Origins of Christianity, a process which requires more than learning and objectivity. What I do claim is not to be deliberately biassed, but that is something which I share with many critical scholars. On the other hand, I cannot see this quality in many evangelicals, nor in Jewish scholars such as Hyam Maccoby (Jesus was a Pharisee, and Paul never had been), nor in secular scholars such as Robert Price and Barbara Thiering, whom most people are right not to take too seriously. The latter group are more than sufficient to make me wary of claiming to find truth by liberating people from the shackles of theologically loaded interpretations.
It is quite normal not to discuss these things in scholarly monographs, because they are supposed to stand by evidence and argument. Consequently, one does not always know, where a given author stands on your trajectory, and it generally does not matter. For example, when I finished Martin Karrer’s outstanding monograph Der Gesalbte (1991), I assumed he was probably Christian because he had not been sacked, the fate of Gerd Lüdemann when he left the church, and of many other Christians who have exercised the independence of mind characteristic of all critical scholars. But this was not a matter of concern, because this was an outstanding monograph by a genuinely critical scholar whose work stood up because of his use of evidence and argument, not because of his ideological stance or lack of one.

Secondly, your comments on what I am supposed to think about the idiomatic use of bar (e)nash(a) and kebar enash in Daniel 7.13 are such a mixture of what I do and do not think, and such a muddle, that I hardly know where to begin. For example, the messianic interpretation of kebar enash is not found in the interpretative section of Daniel 7, or in the Syrian tradition, which preserved most of the original interpretation of the book of Daniel and should have loved it. It was however widespread in the West, a fact which I documented at very great length in my doctoral thesis (much abbreviated for SPCK [JC: Son of Man, 1979]). This is not however an argument for or against the authenticity of sayings attributed to Jesus which may be thought to use bar (e)nash(a) in general statements which may refer especially to the speaker. I simply cannot relate your comments to what I wrote.

Thirdly, I offered detailed discussions of cases where I think we know exactly which Aramaic word Jesus used, i.e. when there is only one possible Aramaic word for a given Greek word and we know what it is, and cases where we don’t know exactly which of two or three words but it doesn’t matter, and cases of serious uncertainty. So I do occasionally give the impression that I am providing the actual words of Jesus because that’s when I think I am, whereas at other times we have only a general approximation to what he said. All such claims are falsifiable e.g. by showing that there are more possible Aramaic words for a given Greek word than I noticed, or by giving reasons to believe that Jesus could not have said any given saying in Aramaic at all, or in other conventional ways.

You have naturally made some other comments with which I do not agree, but I have mentioned these because you could persuade people who will not read this book that I believe some things which I do not believe at all.

With best wishes,
Maurice.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

When Wrong is Right

The great Bishop Wrong has made comments which are of direct relevance for recent blog debates and blog debates over the years. In particular he engages with William Bartley and the apologetic move of 'you're biased too!'
Many scholars who engage in heavily theological interpretations of the Bible will, at some stage, come up with a tu quoque defence for defending their theological bias. The tu quoque defence begins by pointing out that all rational argumentation is ultimately ungrounded, and that all arguers have presuppositions which must be based on their (biased) preferences. This is true. But the apologetic use of the tu quoque defence involves the additional step of arguing that the theological bias is therefore as warranted as any other. This is more than highly questionable. By far the most developed exposé of the “But you’re biased, too!” defence of theological interpretation is by William Bartley, in The Retreat to Commitment (rev. edn. 1984)...
Bartley’s own solution is essentially Popperian. Bartley gives up the attempt to positively justify one’s position, on the recognition that the most one can do is to provide falsification of positions. That is, full positive justification of a particular interpretation is always out of reach. However, it is quite likely that some interpretations will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests. At the very least, it is possible to evaluate and rank interpretations according to their success in explaining all the evidence.
Bartley’s answer gives a good reply to those apologists who rely on the ultimate groundlessness of knowledge, so as to defend their fideism. I’m not so sure that it deals with the subjectivity involved in selecting and evaluating data, but the critical process to which this is subjected means that the relativistic argument is itself relativised. All up, Bartley provides a fine and detailed examination of the apologetic move of Barth and others, in which they appeal to the relativity of knowledge in order to make an argument–not for relativism, but–for fideism.

I always wondered about people who make this apologetic move if it is possible to go the step further and say each bias is therefore as ultimately meaningless as any other... This also got me wondering (and I happily admit to speculation here) if there has been an increase in the 'we might be biased but so are you' approach in NT studies or biblical studies as a whole of the past ten years? I am speculating because I think it can be shown pretty clearly that overt perspective approaches have increased from 'secular' to some very prominent conservative conclusions, not to mention very conservative and confessional sounding book titles in academic NT studies.

Just speculating...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Review of Bird's Review of Casey

I know he was my supervisor and all that, but I’m still going to respond to Mike Bird’s review of Maurice Casey’s latest book on son of man. Probably something to do with honour and shame or something…

'One issue that has been aired too many times on this blog is about secularism, presuppositions etc and so on. Like Paul Scholes though, there’s always time for one last great effort. Mike says:
Casey nowhere acknowledges his own presuppositions and how they influence him. The implied author of this book (i.e. Casey’s representation of himself) is that of an objective and secular critic who has come to liberate us from the shackles of theologically loaded interpretations of the Son of Man. But I suggest that the existence of such an ideal objective and impartial author is just as mythical as the existence as the ‘primordial son of man’ known to occasionally haunt the lecture rooms of German universities.

Well this moves from something relatively easy to establish (various theological trends and their impact on the discipline) to speculation. Not sure about this Casey representation of himself and implied author business. How is that worked out? Magic? Psychology? I’m being a bit polemical here because it is not the person I know being described. As for ‘objective’ and ‘secular’ critic I very much doubt Casey would like that description of himself. In fact I know Casey doesn’t like the term ‘secular’. I am pretty sure that Casey, rightly or wrongly, would say he would not see his results in terms of ‘secular’ here and would frame them in terms of a genuine concern for establishing historical truth. As it happens, Casey has often spoken of CK Barrett being the epitome of such concern, a man who is hardly an atheist, and certainly not someone we would these days call ‘secular’ (Barrett is/was well known in Durham, I believe, as a great preacher). I also know that Casey thinks his kinds of results on issues like the son of man are those that many mainstream Christian scholars with a concern for historical knowledge could have come to or at least agree with. Instead of guessing/inventing, it would have been much better, obviously, to have established Casey’s views on this which, as it happens, are not quite what Mike has strongly implied. Mike’s lavish language is matched only by his heroic demolition of a straw man:
The implied author of this book (i.e. Casey’s representation of himself) is that of an objective and secular critic [Mike's construction, not Casey's representation] who has come to liberate us from the shackles of theologically loaded interpretations [Mike's construction] of the Son of Man. But I suggest [presumably in contrast to Mike's construction, and certainly NOT Casey's argument] that the existence of such an ideal objective and impartial author is just as mythical…


As for acknowledging presuppositions, Casey ‘nowhere acknowledges his own presuppositions and how they influence him’. On one level is it not fair to say, why would he? Rightly or wrongly, Casey presumably thinks he’s found the solution, others have gone wrong, and in some cases because their agendas have dictated too much (not that agendas are necessarily wrong in themselves etc and so on). I mean, what is he to do? Say, 'I've found out on p. 200 that my presuppositions influenced me'? The issue for Casey is clearly how presuppostions led to mistakes and so it would be getting to the level of the absurd if this were applied to himself: 'I've found out on p. 200 that my presuppostions influenced me and I was wrong on that page'??????

So, to labour the point, one possible way of reading Mike’s argument is that everyone’s agenda is problematic and gets in the way. So I want to ask Mike some genuinely open questions. If so, is there any point in doing history? If not, is it possible to get to the truth of what happened without ideology interfering too much? Either one of those answers has implications for Mike’s argument I think…

And again…the problem of not budging on too many issues can cause problems, can it not? Is there not a major problem if people cannot come to a series of historical conclusions that do not cohere with their pre-existing convictions? Dale Alison faced problems head on and was able to come to seriously uncomfortable conclusions e.g. his apocalyptic Jesus who got things a bit wrong. Is that really possible to say about all scholars? If not, why not?

…as an aside, this:
Casey’s dislike for orthodox Christianity is easily documented (see his responses to S.E. Porter, N.T. Wright in various articles and his monograph on John’s Gospel) and one wonders if this atheological aesthetic has impacted some of his conclusions (i.e. he likes to make sure nothing supports orthodox christology!)

Genuine question: what is orthodox Christology on ‘the son of man’? Did Lindars contradict the orthodoxy of his Christian faith for coming to similar conclusions to Casey on son of man? Or is orthodoxy to be equated with certain strands of evangelical thought?

And is there not something going on from leaping from general blinkers to the idea that people are too blinkered to see orthodox Christology, which developed over centuries, not only in the C1 but the historical Jesus too? I mean, it would have saved a lot of problems if Jesus (not to mention Paul, John and the others) had just told us about orthodox Christology back then. It’s not as odd, in itself (irrespective of Casey’s views) as Mike exclamation marks might suggest.

One general aside: Casey was hardly wrong (elsewhere) in suggesting Wright’s evangelical belief has interfered with his scholarship. I think it is fair to be suspicious when Wright comes to conclusion such as Mark 13 not referring to the second coming and the son of man coming on clouds meaning vindication (etc etc) based on no evidence for son of man ever meaning anything like this and Wright’s reading contradicting the problematic (and blindingly obvious I would argue and have argued) conclusion that Mark 13 predicts the return of Jesus within a generation. And I can’t help but think Wright’s belief gets in the way too much when he thinks the bodily resurrection is as historically likely as the fall of Jerusalem etc.

Back to Mike with this in mind, and back to the issue just mentioned above: is it possible to get historical results if ideology and presuppositions are so prominent…?

Generally on agendas etc. No one (or at least Casey) thinks there is no such thing as presupposition free exegesis or that cultural context doesn't dictate questions to some extent. I keep hearing such debates and I cannot begin to say how utterly bored I’ve got of personally defending the bleedin’ obvious about issues objectivity and neutrality (two concepts very much confused in such polemic), often in contexts of secular, evangelical etc. disputes. If anyone wants to know what I agree with/think (and I suspect Casey would generally agree with the conclusions) try more on agendas from a mainstream historian see the chapter in Evans, In Defence of History. See also my Why Christianity Happened ch. 1 and my chapter on history in Crossley and Karner (eds.) Writing History, Constructing Religion.

Some exegetical issues. Mike argues:
I would also ask, however, if Mark can cite the anarthrous hos huios anthropou on Dan. 7.13 LXX to create a Christological title, then why cannot someone earlier in the tradition or even Jesus do the same based on the Aramaic? Nothing necessitates a Marcan provenance for the connection of the Son of Man (in Greek or Aramaic) with Daniel 7

Maybe, but in terms of Jesus we have a real problem, not least because of the big historical problems surrounding Mk 13 and the trial scene. Like others I’ve argued that Mk 13 is the work of the early church, perhaps Mark, due to a number of factors, and is not likely to come from the historical Jesus. I am hardly alone in thinking this and plenty of other arguments are well made. I would not be revealing much if I mentioned the serious historical problems surrounding the trial scene. These reasons would enhance the idea that the son of man sayings in these contexts are likely to be secondary too and the reference to second coming would only enhance this kind of argument. So while nothing stops the connection with Dan 7 at an earlier level of tradition, I think some degree of suspicion (in terms of HJ) aimed at these two sayings is justified.

Mike does acknowledge that ‘the authenticity of several texts (e.g. Mk. 13.26, 14.62) are complex in their own right’ but adds ‘I do not subscribe to Casey’s view that they are secondary formulations that refer to Jesus’ parousia’. So what then? I would also ask Mike *if* he is implying that they do NOT refer to the parousia...what...?

After acknowledging the role of Aramaic background, Mike says this:
However, he occasionally gives the impression that he is providing us with the actual words of Jesus as he often makes a point why Jesus preferred one word over another. This is perhaps true for one or two short proverbial sayings (like maybe Mk. 10.45), but what Casey has really done is reconstructed a possible Aramaic tradition lying beneath the Greek text of the Gospels. That tradition is likely to be a paraphrase, summary, digest and gist of what Jesus said depending on what one makes of the oral tradition. For the most part (and I allow some exceptions) the Jesus tradition, regardless of what language we find it in, contains the ipsissima vox not the ipsissima verba of Jesus.

Impression? Well this gets too speculative again and would Casey actually disagree here? I doubt it, not least because he makes this clear in his work on Aramaic reconstructions. Besides, I would use terms like ‘John wrote…’, ‘Mark wrote…’ without necessarily believing that we know who the gospel authors were. It’s just shorthand. Is this not pretty common?

In a related way, Bird argues:
Casey’s burden is to show that an idiomatic usage of bar (e)nash(a) would not necessarily lead to a translation of ho anthropos or ho huios anthropou. I tend to think, following Bauckham and Hurtado, that the double articular Greek construction, inelegant as it is, was given to emphasize the particular emphasis that Jesus attached to the Aramaic phrase.

Ok, if this is so, how can the Bird’s son of man in Aramaic (which would have to be very original, right?) be weighed against known Aramaic use of son of man? How, in Aramaic, would this be done by Jesus? How would Mike account for Casey’s argument on the Aramaic emphatic and how it related to Greek translation?

Incidentally, and I’m not exactly engaging with Bird on this point (though it is obviously relevant), is not Mark 2.27-28 an excellent example of the more general frame of reference, only further emphasised by Matthew and Luke dropping the generalising Mark 2.27?

I’m afraid (sorry Danny) I’m going to mention the web-angry conservative comments made in the comments section on Mike’s blog and based, it would seem (see the reaction by Steph), not on Casey’s book and not based on his actual ideas but on Mike’s review.

I’ll focus on this one by Brant Pitre:
‘…but to suggest that he is not a Messiah in 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra is in my opinion, simply absurd. Whatever "underlying traditions" a scholar may want to create in their imaginations is one thing, but the actual TEXTS as they are extant explicitly identify the figure as "Messiah.”’

I’m a bit puzzled as to what we are talking about here: Casey’s book? And if so which pages and which arguments? Also, which version of 1 Enoch? Alternatively, is Brant talking about the English version of 1 Enoch or Ge’ez? Which manuscript version? I’m certainly no expert on this area but I believe the mss are pretty tricky to navigate. Another point, it is all well and good piously talking about 'the text' but already the Ge’ez is a translation of an earlier version and out of its original cultural context. Even more problematic, it seems (am I right?) as if Brant has actually misrepresented Mike’s review of Casey, which does not say what Brant says (unless Brant, of course, is referring to Casey’s book):
‘Casey also argues for an Aramaic tradition underlying 1 Enoch and *that the ‘son of man’ in 1 Enoch* [my emphasis] refers to Enoch himself and not to a Messiah. He similarly argues, *based on textual considerations* [my emphasis], that the term ‘Son of Man’ is not used in 4 Ezra.’

I think Brant will need to give more precise evidence from Casey’s book for me to say anything further because I’m not entirely sure what is actually being discussed here in terms of Casey's argument. Based on Mike’s representation, Casey isn’t actually saying what Brant wants it to say. But if it is Casey's book, I'd need references to properly respond.

In fact this leads to bigger questions aimed at many (not just the above - besides I have no idea of the language skills of the above mention, apart from Casey, obviously) and asked before and which Mike rightly comments at the end of his review:
Casey’s volume is a healthy reminder that all scholars of the Greek New Testament would do well if they also master the semitic languages of Palestine, the Hebrew Bible, and the eastern church.

Similarly, it so happens that the son of man problem always reminds me, more than almost any other issue in NT studies, about the need to know God-knows how many languages needed to tackle a problem like this. If NT texts were discussed at academic level and in detail without knowing Greek and Greek textual variants, how would people react? Presumably not impressed. If texts such as 1 Enoch and Daniel (not to mention others texts) were discussed at academic level in detail without knowing Ge’ez and Aramaic respectively (not to mention other languages), how would people (more precisely NT scholars) then react? It seems to me that this is much more ‘allowed’. Another related issue, is it best to know a lot of Aramaic and Greek if you are going to do comparative grammar, as needs to be done in the son of man problem? Well presumably. Now I have no idea precisely who knows what language(s) but I would be surprised if the people so qualified are little more than a handful in gospel studies. Away from critique of the many to comments on the few/one, at the very least Casey can say he has all these languages and reads the different texts and the often complicated versions.

This is all starting to sound far too incestuous and defensive for its own good. In that case, I’ll just remind you of the glorious victory against Barca and add that it is so, so sad that Liverpool had to go out so painfully.

Champions' League

Now I have time, let me mention the victory over Barcelona. A fantastic strike by Scholes settled it but the last 15 mins were unbearable. I don't want to be a killjoy but the performance over the two legs was a touch defensive. United circa '99 would have really gone for this and won I think. But to be fair to Fergie he did what had to be done. Barca were very technical and passed the ball very nicely but even Messi could do very little once they got close to the penalty box. Messi ran sideways a lot and while I'm not denying he is a great player United ultimately contained him (one beautifully time foul by Scholes right at the beginning perhaps the exception). I thought Tevez was excellent for United.

As for the other semi I don't like Liverpool or Chelsea but tribalism and deep rooted local rivalry makes me hate Liverpool more. So I suppose every cloud has a silver lining.