I want to better understand this site's scope, and my role in it, please. A question posed recently, and the reaction to it, seem to be a good tool by which I can have that better explained to me.
I see 4 stated concerns with this question. If I may be so bold as to restate the sentiments of others (in chronological order):
- The question as stated is impossible to answer
- There can be no answer to this question (because there was never 'meant' to be one).
- There is no purpose (or application) in knowing the answer, therefore it is out of scope in this site.
- The question cannot elicit "facts, references, or specific expertise", therefore it is out of scope in this site.
First, of course, if I am misunderstanding or misstating the comments of others, then I wish to be corrected. My purpose here is not to grandstand my views. Such an activity would be a waste of my time. If any of the 4 need to be restated, then this is likely connected to why this question was received poorly.
If not, then I would like to better understand my lack of understanding. Please allow me to give you my understanding point by point, so that it may be corrected.
I believe that it can be answered, and even that it was answered. It is possible that the answer is a poor fit for this site, and that attempting to use the original words and their various context in the text to better understand the meanings is not an actual or viable hermeneutical approach and that I have been sorely misled, in which case I would like to be a) first, corrected, and b) second, have my answer downvoted into oblivion.
This argument hinges on the unstated position that the state of mind of the speaker can be known today. That is an interesting and oft stated or unstated premise on this site, but I think that site rules require this premise to be defended. But, instead of 'attacking' whether this is true, I think we can contrast this line of thinking with a highly voted question with highly voted answers, about what the same speaker 'meant' when talking about the size of camels and needles. It appears that this question is on topic, is it not? Perhaps as an aside, I can't think of a system of beliefs that is common enough today that would dare make this argument ("Had there been a purpose in knowing [X], Jesus would no doubt have mentioned it") that can both hold Jesus as infallible (and therefore capable of thinking far enough ahead to know what would need to be known), and and also maintain that everything on any topic was said by him explicitly (rendering, say, the Pauline Epistles unnecessary). Regardless, such an argument would require a defended explanation that is much too long for the comment section. Whether that is in fact the underlying belief system behind this concern or not (I doubt that it is), ascribing unstated intent in order to prescribe action by anyone today is specifically out of scope in questions and answers. On the other hand, I can't find anywhere stating that doing so in moderator activities is not acceptable. Perhaps it is. Am I missing that instruction?
In a foundational Meta article, it is stated that
It is agreed that for this site: Questions are on topic if they are focused on the text, rather than things to which the text may apply.... Questions that seem to be seeking to apply the Bible are off-topic. Questions about the application of the Biblical texts are best asked on sites devoted to specific religious traditions such as Christianity.SE or Judaism.SE. We try to avoid eisegesis as much as possible.
Therefore, it seems that an argument that questions require clear modern application in order to be on topic or in scope for this site is the opposite of correct. Is this Meta article FAQ wrong?
While anything I say is decidedly not "expertise" (ask my family, they will tell you), I think that the supplied answer in the question in ... question(?) ... showed one way that facts, references, and specific expertise can possibly be used to answer the question. The comments appended after that answer show a completely different way that facts, references, and very specific expertise can be used. If, on the other hand, the concern here is that the answer itself is not worded academically or theologically authoritatively enough, and therefore the question is off topic, we have a big problem across the entire Stack Exchange network. We can't use the quality of answers to judge whether questions are in scope. How many Jon Skeet answers have been preceded or followed up by spam... do we close the question because spammers respond out of scope? (A reminder that 'protecting' is decidedly not the same, in site mechanics or psychological impact, as downvote and vote to close.) This is perhaps an extreme example, but the principle still applies. Has this site worked out a different definition of "facts, references, and specific expertise" than I am working with?
Please bear in mind that my goal here is not this specific question. I have gotten all the benefit I possibly ever could out of this question, and if it becomes top voted or closed and deleted, I very much doubt it could affect my knowledge on any topic in scope for this site either way. My goal here is to understand site scope, and my role in it.
On the other hand, since I am using a specific example, and the example I have chosen has already been put on hold, I think the burden of proof might lie with me to argue for its reopening, at least just to have this Meta post be taken seriously.
My understanding of the site scope, as stated in the first link in the tour, the top answer of that link, is that is that questions about what a single word means should be asked.
"What does word mean in Verse X:Y?" should be approached from a hermeneutical background that examines the text in context.
Keep in mind we have already touched on the idea that speaker or author intent is not the crux of this site, and as such we hold such questions to be off topic, but as seen in the very first explanation of scope we give to new questioners, asking for an exegetical approach to better understanding a specific word is not only within scope, it "should" be asked.
I concede that the question, as originally posed, does not "show your work", nor does it explicitly ask for exegesis on the word in question. The "show your work" argument is a valid one here, but was never brought up. Not only was it never addressed in comments toward the OP, it is actually not a valid close reason in BH.SE. Perhaps it should be, but, if I may be so bold, I think the work has already been shown in an answer, so this hurdle may be considered cleared, if only by proxy. If I am correct in that assumption, the remaining concern here would be the lack of an edited in "Does a study of the text give us additional understanding here" question. If that is really the case, I hold that to be a banal requirement, as this should be assumed for every question posed on this site. It is kind of the point of the site. It is certainly not a sufficient reason to close without even a comment the first question of someone who registered and read the tour before asking that question.
The last point I can think of that might need to be brought up on this specific question are my own concerns, in comments days ago. It may not be the best fit for this site, and migration may be a better option. Personally, I think that more insight on meaning can be gained by examining this archaeologically and culturally than linguistically (though questions about those topics are explicitly in scope, see the tour or the cultural-analysis tag), but this opinion is irrelevant to the question at hand. Please do not take those comments to be an argument for closure, they were never meant as such, and I feel that was clear. (I feel confident I can declare authorial intent in this case.) Migration is not done without comments and discussion in Stack Exchange sites, and it is certainly not done by closing and not even telling the OP through comments that they can go to ... elsewhere. As we know, closing without clear or accurate reasons or helpful suggestions for improvement is often perceived as telling the OP exactly where they can go, and it isn't a place with a 'be nice' policy. We can't fix newly registered members' perceptions, and I am not interested in making this post about coddling people who don't belong here. On the other hand, we can't expect people to know those rules unless we tell them. Migration is never mentioned in the tour, the FAQ link currently redirects back to the tour, so learning about migration is basically impossible if you aren't already familiar with Stack Exchange... meaning you would already be familiar with migration.
I feel I have addressed the 4 stated, and the 3 unstated (that I could think of), concerns that might lead to closure, as I understand site scope and mechanics. But, remember, the linked question is only an example, a tool, for facilitating the discussion.
So, back to the point of this question: Why is this question so poorly received, or what aspect of it departs from site scope, and what is my role in maintaining site scope and quality of the site itself?