I received a number of responses to my post this past week on whether Jesus would have received a decent burial on the day of his crucifixion. One of the most interesting responses was not so much about what I said or thought, but about a much broader question: how can one evaluate arguments over such controversial subjects without being entirely biased and subjective at the outset? It’s worth talking about. Here’s the question:
Re: the burial of Jesus or not: Do you have any suggestions for how to be objective regarding issues like this? Maybe it would help to first figure out where the burden of proof should be. Does historicity demand something like clear and convincing evidence that something happened–so that any significant doubts require rejection of the supposed incident? Or just that one thing is more likely to have happened than another?
I won’t here deal with the particular issue of Jesus’ burial, but with the broader issue of how one remains “neutral” or “disinterested” when trying to reach a conclusion.
The first think I’ll say is that I have long avoided the term “objectivity” when it comes to the various things I do, such as trying to reconstruct the past, or to interpret texts, or to analyze arguments. This may seem weird, but I don’t think “objectivity” or “subjectivity” are that helpful as categories.
Scholars involved with such fields as …
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