Wednesday, June 02, 2010

B.F. Streeter on Wild Form-Critical Speculation

I posted this once before, but I just ran across this quote again and had to highlight it:

“If the sources have undergone anything like the amount of amplification, excision, rearrangement and adaptation which the [form-critical] theory postulates, then the critic’s pretence that he can unravel the process is grotesque. As well hope to start with a string of sausages and reconstruct the pig.”
--B. F. Streeter, The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (London: Macmillan, 1924), 377.


Sze Zeng said...

Brilliant quote!

Lee Gilbert said...

A number of years ago when I was at Northwestern U, I discovered a poem of James Joyce that was very reminiscent of a passage in the Old Testament. It seemed simply undeniable that the poem was a reprise of the passage. I took it to Richard Ellmann, world renowned Joyce scholar and pointed out the obvious similarity. He agreed that the passages were indeed very similar but one would need some extra textual confirmation such as a letter, or a diary entry to make any positive assertion that indeed the poem was based on the passage.

It is safe to say that this sort of stringent scholarship does not obtain in biblical studies.

As you have probably read, the Vatican has ordered visitations of Irish dioceses and Maynooth, as well as of many convents of nuns here in the U.S. How lovely it would be if contemporary biblical scholarship had a visitation by Homeric scholars, or Shakespearean scholars! Or if Ellmann's razor were applied to all the many works of biblical criticism that have multiplied over the last century and more.

A few weeks ago we had a reading at Mass from the First Letter of St. Peter. The first words of the priest's homily were to the effect that St. Peter did not write the epistle. After Mass I challenged him on this and heard a great deal about the new, scientific approach to Scripture. It is a truly ludicrous situation, and would be hilarious if the effects weren't so devastating. Science is supposed to be certain knowledge, is it not?

petebrown said...

Nice quote...I'll use it in my courses!