Talk:Dennis MacDonald

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Criticisms[edit]

The article should probably include academic criticisms of MacDonald's theory, since it is just one of many Christ myth theories, which have nearly all been debunked over the years, given that they are so different and that they never really correspond with each other. ADM (talk) 10:36, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

MacDonald's thesis does fly in the face of contemporary scholarship. I added a reference to Sandnes critique in JBL and will hopefully work it into the article soon.--Ari (talk) 04:31, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Also, I believe citation 3 is misused. In the article, it appears it is a quote from MacDonald. However, when I click on the source, it is a review of the book which is quoted. GuitarJunkie09 (talk) 03:46, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree. It isn't a good idea to be describing his thesis on the basis of a review. Especially one as partisan as by Richard Carrier. --Ari (talk) 04:31, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

This is almost a year later from when I listed the criticism, and it's still not fixed... Perhaps there was some confusion, so let me clarify. The article says the following:

MacDonald's seminal work, however, is The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. According to MacDonald, the Gospel of Mark is "a deliberate and conscious anti-epic, an inversion of the Greek 'Bible' of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, which in a sense updates and Judaizes the outdated heroic values presented by Homer, in the figure of a new hero."[3]

However, the website which source 3 links to, a review of MacDonald's work by Richard Carrier, says this:

This is an incredible book that must be read by everyone with an interest in Christianity. MacDonald's shocking thesis is that the Gospel of Mark is a deliberate and conscious anti-epic, an inversion of the Greek "Bible" of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, which in a sense "updates" and Judaizes the outdated heroic values presented by Homer, in the figure of a new hero, Jesus (whose name, of course, means "Savior").

The quote used in the article is attributed to MacDonald, when it is quite clearly Richard Carrier who called MacDonald's work a deliberate and conscious anti-epic. GuitarJunkie09 (talk) 21:24, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

"most" aware of his views have been dismissive or critical[edit]

The most in there is a peakock term, which doesn't really say much except to imply the guy is a nutjob. As it is written, it could be simply removed as a BLP violation, but that would (IMO) be overly aggressive enforcement of the policy. Sandes is a single person, so using his rebuttal does not indicate "most." Now, if we can tie the claim that "most" are dismissive/critical, THEN we might be able to use that as a source. The fact that his theory has been around for a decade without gaining much traction is not, proof that "most are dismissive or critical." It could also be proof that academia can be slow to embrace controversial claims. Also, the question becomes WHO does most compromise? If you are referring to Conservative Christians, then yes, most will be critical. Are you talking about Athiests/Agnostics? Then maybe not. Academia? That too could be a mixed bag. Those who are liberal and see the Bible as a human creation might embrace it, while those who see the Bible as divinely inspired will naturally be critical. So without a source, the inclussion here is questionable. Personally, if this stays, we should have a neutral source (EG not somebody whose premise is to debunk MacDonald's position.)---Balloonman NO! I'm Spartacus! 14:19, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

If Sandnes makes the statement that most scholars do not accept the thesis, then it is not a violation of BLP. It is a report on the acceptance of his work in the discipline in a reliable third party source. It is not your call to re-write scholarly opinion on the state of scholarly acceptance. The work of Loveday Alexander on the genre of Acts and Richard Burridge on the gospels are the scholarly mainstream, whether or not particular editors dis/agree. The only reason I haven't reverted it is because I am trying to figure out the scholarly source I read recently that noted that Dennis MacDonald and Burton Mack promised to redefine historical NT studies yet after so many years no one is following in their footsteps. I cannot remember if it was on Acts or Mark specifically. --Ari (talk) 14:56, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
If Sandes said it, then we need to attribute the statement to him and put a reference on it. An unattributed unsourced statement, IS a violation of BLP. We, Wikipedia, cannot make that statement in a vacuum. This isn't about our re-writing scholarly opinion, it would not surprise me that a controversial position that challenges basically everything previously written hasn't been embraced. That's part and parcel with the nature of the theory. But, we cannot use generic terms that are often used to make statements appear more authoritative than can be supported and about BLP. Saying "most" without a source and then refering one person's rebuttal does not prove the statement. It might be different if Karl Olav Sandnes was a major mover and shaker in the field, but, and I'm nost saying this in a diminuative manner, but from what I can tell he is nothing more than another Biblical Scholar rebutting a position he disagrees with.
The fact that he was hired (after publishing several of his books) and holds the positions that he holds at the Claremont School of Theology offers some proof that his theories are not completely discredited---which is what the statement implies. Claremont is a highly respected, albeit radically liberal school. The faculty/former faculty (Cobb, Hick, Suhocki, Ruether, Griffen) were all leaders in their fields and were each known for their somewhat unorthodox views. Part of my dubiousness of the claim, is that while I accept that most conservative CHristians/scholars will dismiss his theories, most of the people who actually read this theories are going to be the ones who embrace the rest of the Claremont crowd.
Without a source, attribution, and possible who we are talking about, the statement is simply to vague to stand on its own. (I have no doubt that source can be provided, but without one, we are on thin ground here.)---Balloonman NO! I'm Spartacus! 15:57, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
Just to clarify (1) No one said statement's aren't meant to be sourced (2) Sandnes would be a reliable source regardless of your personal opinion of him (3) the fact that he has a job means nothing about the acceptance of his theory (although some may say him being at Claremont guarantees the fringe acceptance of his work :p ). On a more personal note, no need to try and play the its only rejected "Conservative Christian scholars" who don't read his work ;) --Ari (talk) 03:13, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
Again, I have no doubt that the statement is true... I find it to be a fascinating hypothesis... but don't buy it it as comprehensive myself (I suspect that there are elements of truth to it, but that like saying Shakespeare influenced tonights episode of Psych). But in order to keep it in the article, we need a source. My main concern is that this is a conservative theory, so it goes without saying that it is fringe and going to have nominal acceptance. BUT when a broad reaching statement is made, it needs to be qualified or sourced at the least. My point is that while I BELIEVE the statement is true, it cannot stand on its own.---Balloonman NO! I'm Spartacus! 05:36, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
We have both used a lot of words to say we agree on everything ;) --Ari (talk) 05:48, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
So the earth is flat? ;-) ---Balloonman NO! I'm Spartacus! 06:03, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
Now that is one massive coincidence! --Ari (talk) 11:59, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Here's another reason why I am reluctant to let the statement stand as is. Technically, "Most" is 50%+1 person, in practice, however, when dealing with controversial ideas/notions, it is perceived as a much greater percentage of people. You see "Most people are dismissive/critical" and the implication is that virtually everybody disagrees with the hypothesis. It is also vague in that I think a lot of scholars (outside of the sola scriptura camp) might read it and think, "Interesting hypothesis, I wonder how much of it is true, but I don't completely buy it." They might be "dismissive" in the means of not being completely sold on the idea and believing that MacDonald shows a little too much exhuberance in his hypothesis, but not completely dismissive in the fact that MacDonald's hypothesis makes for (if nothing else) an interesting take on the subject. The statement is also vague in the sense that one might ask, "Did the person actually read what MacDonald wrote or area they just responding to the idea?" E.g. a lot of people will discount the theory without delving into it (we all do that.) But is it fair to make the statement that those people are really familiar with the hypothesis? Or are they discounting it prima facia? Again, I'm not defending MacDonald or his argument; I'm just pointing out that as written the statement raises more questions than it should in an encyclopdic bio.---Balloonman NO! I'm Spartacus! 14:32, 16 July 2010 (UTC)