Recently an answer was edited with only a revision history of "per https://hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/a/777/208". The link is to the top-voted answer to What kind of site do we ultimately want to have? The revision replaced:

This is the essence of sin. The mourning in the passage is a true repentance over sin as a result of grace shown in the Yeshua the Messiah (see verse 10; compare John 19:37, Revelation 1:7).


Christians see a parallel here with later rejection of Jesus's claim of this status (see verse 10; compare John 19:37, Revelation 1:7).

And removed:

The mystery not yet revealed in this passage, though, is that because Christ will mediate in all three roles, those who were wicked will be righteous, and they will stand with him in his offices.

In my opinion, these edits violate the guidelines for editing:

Respect the author's voice and content. This is partly covered in the top point, but I'll be a bit more explicit about certain points here. People may write as they wish to write - while as a site we focus on content, as a community there are people behind every post. People usually do not like to speak in a voice that is not theirs. So as long as it isn't actively interfering with the goal of the post, there isn't a need to change things.

An edit better fitting the guideline would have been to insert "Christians believe..." rather than remove the beliefs that the editor disagrees with.

  • I didn't realize that was actually an enforceable policy yet. I thought we were still undecided on whether we should even bother editing answers or just DV them and leave editing mainly for questions except in the most egregious cases. How do we know when a meta answer is authoritative? – Dan Dec 1 '13 at 1:23
  • @GoneQuiet sounds good, but looks like Jack took care of it. I'm gonna leave it alone (I hadn't yet seen this meta post when I did that revision). – Dan Dec 2 '13 at 15:16
  • But I did DV that post awhile back – Dan Dec 2 '13 at 15:17
  • When I checked I thought the 'lock' had been lifted. – Dan Dec 2 '13 at 15:48

After some thought that I've come to this conclusion:

It's basically a good edit but a bit insensitive in execution.

By 'good' I mean in keeping with the tougher enforcement of 'show your work' envisaged in the other meta post.

The emotive question is this: was the edit motivated by the desire to edit out the Christian aspect of a post or was it motivated by the desire to edit out the bits of the post that simply do not show their work.

I do not think the edit was anything less than a honest attempt to action the philosophy of the proposal on meta.

Anyone else is free to improve the post again: my hope is that all the users of the site could unite around an approach I've taken on my own post here. Instead of removing the content that is furthest divorced from the immediate context, I've moved some of it to footnotes, and in my own opinion, I've improved the answer as a result (it's not a compromise on my part: I prefer the end result).

as an aside, I really don't think any "Christians believe…" or "Christians see a parallel…" language is desirable here. I'm interested in Kazark's working, up from the quoted text: what Christian's do or don't believe is a historical fact further divorced from the text and not at all interesting in this exegesis context unless the actual thinking of those Christians is elaborated/quoted

  • Seeing as this post has got approval (albeit perhaps guarded rather than enthusiastic approval), I've taken the next step and edited per my suggestion here. Please take a look and judge if you like it, and if it is in keeping with what I suggested. – Jack Douglas Dec 10 '13 at 19:36

Even 'showing your work' requires a set of assumptions about a common starting point. Without common ground, there is no foundation to build work upon. This is why I've repeatedly argued for a pseudo-neutrality that is a well-defined starting point - assumed common ground, if you will. Without this, who's to say whose assumptions don't need to be defended/explained/qualified versus whose do?

I think chasing a goal of 'showing your work' without an explicit list of acceptable (and unacceptable) assumptions brought to the text is futile. Bringing assumptions to the text is unavoidable. Choosing which will be tolerated will avoid a silent rule by majority opinion. We're chasing a pipe dream without such definitions.

So to answer the question, "Is editing out theology the thrust of the site's new direction?" It depends. What theology? Even an atheistic-skeptic approach to the text as a piece of literature rather than scripture is an assertion of theology, even if only implied. Will we allow Jewish assumptions when discussing the Hebrew Bible but require Christians to defend their connections to the New Testament? Will we make evangelical Christian theology acceptable for New Testament exegesis and require all others to define their 'deviations'? Or will we approach the text as literature and require a defense of any religious interpretations (which some might argue is actually theological atheism or agnosticism)? Again, claiming that we're 'showing work' building up from some Utopian ideal of neutrality is futile. We need to lay a foundation before we'll ever be able to assess whether work is being shown in a satisfactory way.

  • Of course this is right (and has my +1), but I think our current assumed common ground already has a well-defined starting point. It's just not the one you advocate. – Jack Douglas Dec 30 '13 at 12:22
  • @JackDouglas I'd like to discuss this more, because I'm not so sure I grasp what that starting point is yet. It seems to be a moving target. – Dan Dec 30 '13 at 17:34
  • In my mind at least (for exegesis questions) it is ① respect the text, ② questions start from the text, ③ 'show your work'. All of those have been fleshed out to a degree, especially ③, but I don't think any have moved so much as been refined. I'd love to discuss this further and I'd be particularly interested to hear which of these three you think is weak (or all if that is the case) and if/why you think this 'secular' site definition can't serve as the foundation of a thriving site housing different views and religious frameworks. The Library might be the best place? – Jack Douglas Dec 30 '13 at 17:52
  • Yes, let's chat in the Library – Dan Dec 30 '13 at 17:55
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    @Дэн-Pseudo neutrality is an illusion, we all have our presuppositions. Stating them, or checking a 'presupposition box' is not going to make editing any easier, as it doesn't make room for 'I agree with (X) and with (Y) also-and here's how they fit. Since we are studing "revelation" and not conjecture, we are going to make 'truth assertions'. So, how do we progress? SYW(show your work) is a good one, for starters. Respecting the right of others to have an opinion different than ours is another. Supporting an overall focus to 'edify', rather than to 'tear down' is another. – Tau Dec 31 '13 at 15:12

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