Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Jesus Project: Robert Price's Response

Robert Price has published a helpful Response to Concerns about the Jesus Project on his official homepage. Price was invited to be a fellow, but notes that there has been a slow trickle of information since the launch; he is inclined to blame the overcommitment of those involved, especially Hoffmann, who has "many other duties". On the fellows list, he writes:
And as for that list of Fellows of the Project, featuring the names of some who have never in fact been officially asked, I don’t know. But, again, my guess is that someone simply mistook the list of participants in the “Scripture and Skepticism” event for a list of agreed Fellows of the Project. I don’t know what else it could be. It would be absurd to intentionally add names without their owners consent so I assume they did not.
I think there is little doubt that this is in part behind the list of fellows because of the inclusion of people like James Tabor who were at that conference. But I doubt that it explains the whole list since people like Richard Bauckham were not at the conference, as far as I can tell. (I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong).

There is one element of Price's response that requires a quick comment:
Some seem to be gloating, and pretty overtly, since they had already written off the whole endeavor as one more Satanic scheme to subvert Christian faith and Western civilization.
I think it needs to be made clear that any such comments are not associated with those in the biblioblogosphere, at least not among those I read and reference, and those sorts of reactions, which I have not seen, can only detract from the serious questions that are being asked.

Price urges people "to reserve judgment while the nuts and bolts are worked out" and that may be good advice. I suppose the concern of many in the blogosphere has been the allegedly fraudulent nature of the claims, which does not inspire long term confidence about the project. As I mentioned previously, it may be that a good explanation and / or an apology will be forthcoming.

Update (11.54): in comments, Robert Price notes that Richard Bauckham was invited to the conference but could not attend, in which case the list of fellows may have been drawn from a list of people invited to the Scripture and Skepticism conference.

Update (14.54): April DeConick comments on the Forbidden Gospels Blog.


Anonymous said...

You are right about Richard Bauckham. I hadn't thought of that. I will let you know more of the mystery's solution as soon as I find out.

Anonymous said...

Aha! My omniscient wife Carol reminds me that Richard Bauckham was invited but could not attend. Looks like somebody mistook the list of invitees to the original event for a list of confirmed Fellows (though whether there even is one of these, I can't say.)

Anonymous said...

I do have to say that from my knowledge of Joe Hoffmann - for whom I've got the greatest respect but who has always worked too hard - Robert Price's comments seem to be spot on about the likely cause of this unfortunate problem with the Jesus Project list of fellows (although I am sure you are right, Mark, about the character of the biblioblogosphere's reservations).

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't buy the "it was an accident" excuse about The Jesus Project website's list of fellows. You want to tell me that none of the project administrators performed so much as a light proofreading of the final 'draft' of that website before it was published? And if they did take a look at it, how could they have missed a large list of inappropriately placed names? Either this was a deliberate ploy for more publicity, which the project administrators are too embarrassed to acknowledge now, or those in charge are rather absurdly careless with the main source of public information about their program. If this really was a case of whoopsy-daisy, I think it is surely just as alarming. I don't trust these people to conduct a painstaking, detail-oriented inquiry into a difficult subject if they can't even pull together a webpage.

Anonymous said...

My point was merely that errors of this kind, which are easily correctable and even more easily avoided, don't inspire early confidence in the project. Who knows, maybe it'll turn out to be something great, but at this stage it doesn't look very promising.