Call me Ishmael

The below is a message, the last I sent, in reply to a nameless someone posted on an unspecified email list, which I have since left. The names have been changed, with reference to a seemingly appropriate nautical theme, to protect the not-so-innocent. Those who saw the original exchange will know the participants and context. I find it appropriate, for the record, to post it here, as after nearly a day it has not appeared on that list. I will not have anyone think that I did not reply, implying that I am somehow in agreement with the codswallop to which I was responding. My most recent responses are in italics. Here it is:

Dear [Captain Ahab],
You wrote, cryptically, in response to something I wrote:
>>No, iI lay out a bait, and you snapped.

So, you think I am someone who needs to be caught at something? That’s very interesting, but hardly germane.

>> The present discussion mostly on [list B] on the
>> birth of Jesus is a good example of this. Quoting
>> Barr for the 117 time, it is simply not worth wasting
>> time here.
>
> Good example of what, of nonsense? This is really a
> bogus discussion.

You wrote that, not me. And yes, that one is a “bogus discussion.” I’ve no interest in it and deleted all of it.

I did, however, write this:
>> Many people in all our countries said roughly the
>> same thing regarding Hitler’s rhetoric up until 1939:
>> “It is simply not worth wasting time here.” That was
>> smart. Words are actually important, not only in that
>> they express an individual’s thoughts, but that they
>> might have an effect on the thoughts of others as you
>> must certainly know from your many years of instruction.
>> And if you’re not willing to use your words properly in
>> defense of your own perspective, that perspective deserves
>> to be forgotten. Not speaking to them, and then
>> complaining that they don’t listen to you is not an
>> admirable practice, as it leads to no interaction
>> whatsoever, precisely the place you’re finding yourself.

Which you (and [Pip]) misunderstood, and you wrote this:
> What are you suggesting? I hope not what you wrote.
> Because then the tone will be a total different. Linking
> up with the Albright’s students’ students — 3rd
> generation is never nice — accusing minimalists of
> anti-zionism (not a great deal here in Europe these days),
> anti western culture (and that from an American! Rensburg),
> anti-semitism (and here we meet in court). I think you
> should start to think before you write.

I thought and wrote quite well. Is it my complex sentences? Something in my syntax? I see no reason or even possibility for misunderstanding. I wrote nothing which either you or [Pip] accuse me of. My point, as WRITTEN, is that ignoring to correct the rhetoric of an opponent, especially when one finds such rhetoric (or the opponent, for that matter) below contempt, can have consequences in that such unrefuted rhetoric will lead to its more widespread acceptance. And THAT can lead to consequences outside of the realm of words. If you, Professor, don’t want your field taken over by the very people to whom you refuse to respond, then you will be effaced from that field entirely due to your refusal to apply your ability to correct a situation that you see as wrong. It will be precisely through your lack of attempting to correct them that will lead to your work being ignored. I trust this is explicit enough an exegesis of my text.

(And although it is entirely irrelevant except to your misconstrual of my point, my family includes members who fought on both sides of both world wars, and suffered from the atheist Bolsheviks/Soviets for many, many years after both of them.)

>>> It is fun to discuss why conservative minds are so
>>> busy in defending every corner of the Bible, to study
>>> the mental set-up of such people, because that is a
>>> study of the religious mind.
>
>> So rather than analyze the text you analyze what you
>> think is the mind behind the author of the text? And
>> this passes for biblical studies in your Centre?
>
> Gedt to the point and don’t rabble.

My point is precisely this entirely inappropriate language. Dismissing my questions as “<b>abble” is a perfect example of what I object to.

>> Such would properly belong in an anthropology or
>> sociology or psychology department, or in some program
>> combining the three. Regardless, there is no proper
>> psychoanalysis that can be performed on a text. That’s
>> blatant quackery.
>
> Oh you will be surprised, I promise when the next
> generation is taking over.

Oh, I entirely doubt it. The trends are rather prosaically obvious.

>> Probably the largest problem that you display,
>> [Captain Ahab], is in lumping everyone who doesn’t agree
>> with you, or at least those who lean toward a more
>> “maximalist” position, into the “evangelical” camp.
>
> Can you be more or less evangelical, say 99%, say 69 %
> or ??? If you start sliding down the razorb lade of critical
> scholarship, why do you stop in the middle?

Certainly. How about 0%? You consistently equate “evangelical” with “conservative” with “maximalist” apparently based on a thirty year old study by Barr. I have on various other occasions on this list pointed out that the contemporary equation of these terms as synonyms is mistaken. It is a simple matter of semiotics. Those who are signified by these labels are not always the same people. Certainly there are maximalist conservative evangelicals, including some on this list. There are also conservative maximalists, perhaps the pairing that best applies to me. There also exist, no doubt, conservative minimalists and evangelical minimalists, and all the other combinations. But one does not connote or require the other.

I do not write to you or to this list with any rancour. I don’t see what your problem with me is, nor why you seem to find it appropriate to label me, in particular, as something which I am not. It is something that I would never consider doing to you or to anyone else. To each his own, I suppose.

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