The Arrogance Of Modern Scholarship

C. Clifton Black has said:

"...most recent commentaries on Mark dash through the question of its authorship in a paragraph or so, and the referenecs to Mark in Acts and in the Epistles are almost never correlated with the second Gospel...It is, or should be, a commonplace of critical scholarship that when its results become so assured, and its consideration of any question becomes so perfunctory, then the whole matter probably invites careful rethinking...Whoever it was, the author of that work deliberately intended to remain nameless, and that anonymity must be pondered, not whisked away...This is clearly a problelm for form and redaction critics: their focus, ironically, is on an author whom they confess not to know but whose methods they claim to uncover with extraordinary precision...what is an 'implied author' and his narrative, if not the purposeful activity, in space and time, of a real author?...One need not be a fussy antiquarian to detect something a bit arrogant in the modern critical assumption that our hunches about the resources and concerns of the Second Evangelist are more objective and reliable than those of interpreters who were, in fact, much closer to the composition of the Gospel than we."

C. Clifton Black, Mark: Images of an Apostolic Interpreter (Columbia, SC: USC Press, 1994), 10-1.


  1. I was perusing blogger one day and it came up. I read it and thought that it was really great. It's got fabulous content and insight. All I can say is I'm sure God had his finger in it. Anyway, have a blessed and love filled 2008.

  2. Jeannie,

    Thanks so much for your kind words, they are very much appreciated. I hope you'll keep reading and always, feel free to interact. You be blessed too.

  3. I recently some stuff by Strauss and Baur (of Tubingen School fame and came to the same conclusion, they exhibited scholarly arrogance.

    Of all the subjects in the world, theology and biblical studies should be two subjects which elicit humility. Why? Because we have so few sources, our subjects are so elusive, and thoughtful, well-meaning people can come up with equally convincing arguments to counter ours.

    Thanks for this post!

  4. Matthew,

    I noticed that we actually posted similar posts on the same day. Strauss actually went back and forth with the humility thing. He was arrogant, then became humble and then went back to arrogance again. He and Baur have interesting stories and connections. Needless to say, it appears that Strauss may have practiced arrogance more than humility.

    And Matthew, you are right about students of theology and bible. We should be humble. I specifically think this is true for christian bloggers. Way more humility needs to be passed around and practiced in the blogosphere (christian blogosphere that is).

    Thanks for commenting, excellent, profound thoughts!!!