Monday, May 16, 2011

Quote of the Day: Bruce Longenecker

Bruce Longenecker's Remember the Poor: Paul, Poverty, and the Greco-Roman World has been a stimulating read thus far. In critiquing the binary model of Justin Meggitt's Paul, Poverty, and Survival (T&T Clark), where the latter estimates that 99% of the Roman Empire's population was subject to abject poverty, while admitting that his model is not nuanced enough, (Meggitt) "explains this away as being a necessary hostage to fortune in order to ground his thesis properly" (Longenecker on Meggitt, 42).

Lonegecker's more full response on Meggitt's model qualifies as my quote of the day:

One gets the sense that, in order to prove that all urban-Jesus followers lived in squalid conditions, Meggitt first must excuse himself for taking liberties in his reconstruction of economic realities of the ancient world, not least with his claim that everyone except 1% lived in squalid conditions. If widespread and notable data need to be swept under the carpet in order to prove a thesis, it might be better to sweep the thesis under the carpet instead (43; italics mine).

This is good criticism for all of those to take heed when presenting any thesis of any kind. We cannot, nor should not ignore all the available evidence, making the evidence a slave to the thesis instead of the other way around.

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