On Making Good Arguments

Charles Halton taught me something about making a good argument, and it has stuck with me. I took a couple of his M.Div. classes, and I would frequently observe this exchange (I might have been the student once or twice):

Student: “But isn’t it possible that …”

Charles: “Yes, anything is possible.”

No matter the question, if it was prefaced with “isn’t it possible,” this was his response. After a moment of awkward silence, he would (usually) smile and go on to explain the moral of the story: the best explanation is not the one merely possible, but the one that is most probable. “Isn’t it possible” is often irrelevant. Of course people will disagree about what makes an argument “probable,” but this is where the conversation should take place.

It took a while for this important point to sink in; it might have sunk in a little more quickly if he would have said it like this:

Charles Halton on How to Use ANE Material

Charles Halton has some helpful tips on how to use ancient Near East material in biblical scholarship.
He mentioned that he might put together a short ANE bibliography “that can serve as an entry point for biblical scholars.” I would really like to see this.

One significant take-away from the post: the Context of Scripture is an inadequate source for serious study of ANE “creation accounts” or “flood narratives.” COS is merely an ANE reader, an introduction to these texts.

This certainly doesn’t mean that COS is worthless. In another post, Charles links to a “COS in 1 Year” reading plan, which he created.