I realized anew this morning why it is so difficult for scholars of the NT (or the Hebrew Bible) to explain the results of their results of their research to non-scholars. Well, one of the reasons. As is true, I suppose, for most fields of serious intellectual inquiry, the *results* of scholarship are built on other results that are built on other results that are built on… and so it goes. If the scholar explains his findings without explaining the background – the assumptions based on previous findings that are built on the assumptions based on yet previous findings and so on – then it all sounds very arbitrary and rather easily dismissed.
That’s why it is so easy for a scholar to give an interpretation of a passage based on a detailed analysis that is itself based on careful research only to have a non-scholar “refute” it simply by quoting a verse from somewhere else. The non-expert simply assumes the scholar doesn’t know about this other verse, or hasn’t thought about it, or taken it into account. But that is almost always wrong – if we’re talking about a serious scholar.
I’ll give a simple example and then I’ll explain the real, more complicated example, that brought this whole business to mind to me this morning.
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