More Heresy Hunting
Posted by NT Wrong on November 8, 2008
Tony Burke’s ‘Heresy Hunting in the New Millennium’, on the Aug 2008 SBL Forum, has certainly lit a fire under the Defenders of Orthodoxy. And you thought it was only the Heretics that got burnt at the stake!
In the November 2008 SBL Forum, Darrell L. Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary has written what on the face of it appears to be a point-by-point rejoinder to Burke. Yes, I said “on the face of it”, because — while Darrell Bock was only one of the modern ‘heresy hunters’ discussed by Tony Burke (along with Ben Witherington, Timothy Paul Jones, J. Ed Komoszewski, Philip Jenkins, Stanley Porter, Gordon L. Heath, Craig Evans, and Bishop N.T. Wright) — Bock replies to every point made only in respect of himself. That is, even when Burke’s point was about completely different scholars, Bock only adduces evidence from his own books in reply. Bock goes so far as to pronounce that Tony Burke’s point is simply “wrong” (which is the entire content of Bock’s first sentence of rejoinder) based only on his own books — even when the point concerned completely different scholars. So, what at first glance appears to be a point-by-point rejoinder is in fact a rather strange claim of “not me!”
Yet where Darrell Bock does actually recognize that Tony Burke’s points concern quite different writings by quite different scholars, he tends to agree with Tony Burke! As the only example where Bock discusses one of the other alleged ‘heresy hunters’ (Ben Witherington), Bock agrees that Ben Witherington does in fact go “over the line” in impugning the motives of Christian Apocrypha scholars, and that Witherington is “condescending” and “judgmental”. This doesn’t stop Darrell Bock from going on, in the very next sentence, to make the same insinuation about their motives, however. After all, why waste a chance to make an apologetic point against Christian Apocrypha scholars?
So, it’s a disappointing (non-)response — failing to address the specific charges levelled by Tony Burke, missing the point by limiting himself to a defence of his own books. It doesn’t matter that this is what Darrell Bock announces he will do, because in pursuing such an inappropriate method, his attempted response simply fails to address the specific points made in Tony Burke’s original article.
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