My Response To Stephan Huller

Given the current discussion concerning the Library and some of Stephan Huller’s comments, I would like to post the entirety of my response which he refers to as “[carefully worded]” as I believe it may prove illuminating:

Stephan,

Let me completely assuage all concerns that Joel may have anything to do with how I’m cataloging and classifying any of the Blogs on the Library: Joel is not part of the process in any way. He’s not a member of the Biblioblog Top 50 “staff,” and he’s not involved with The Biblioblog Reference Library in any capacity (the BRL is pretty much my project, alone).

I will be completely honest with you. The biggest hurdle you have to overcome is that the bulk of your theories have one foot lightly in the margin and the other foot firmly planted in the fringe. Your work does not fall within mainstream academia, but despite that (perhaps even because of that) stemming from you I sense a strong thirst  to prove and validate both yourself and your work on the academic stage. How I see you going about and doing so is not a merit to your position either, as you have an online history of being belligerent towards and not working well with others.

That’s the long and the short of it. No other variables have been or need be taken into account.

Unless the subject matter of your blog takes a turn towards more “mainstream” academics and methodology (even if it’s a matter of working with controversies within academic theories) it’s probably going to be categorized under Related Blogs under a subcategory of “Marginal Studies” or “Other” (but since I have not developed a rubric for Related Blog subcategories yet, that is still a bit up in the air), and when that happens your blog can certainly take part in the Related Blog rankings, unhindered.

With highest respect,

Steve Caruso, MLIS
“The Reference Librarian”

For some explanation behind my opinion of Huller’s work, I will refer to two documents that he, himself referred to me:

The first is “The Rediscovery of the Original Episcopal Throne of the Alexandrian See of St. Mark” published in the Journal of Coptic Studies, which can be found here. It is listed without an abstract, and I am in the midst of obtaining a copy to read.

The second, which appears to be its ‘companion’ by other claims is “The Real Messiah: The Throne of St. Mark and the True Origins of Christianity” published by Watkins Publishing (an imprint of Duncan Baird Publishers) who on their About page claims:

Among our unillustrated titles, publishing highlights over the years have included important books on Nostradamus by bestselling novelist Mario Reading, by Osho on aspects of Buddhism, and by Christopher Knight and Alan Butler on the secret wisdom of antiquity.

Our landmark illustrated titles include Tara Fraser’s bestselling Yoga for You, numerous books by David Fontana on symbolism, dreams and meditation, and The Essential Guide to Crystals by Simon and Sue Lilly.

(emphasis mine)

Additionally, Huller shared with me that he is currently “contracted to produce a documentary for National Geographic for 2012 on the Mar Saba letter.” I am currently in the midst of contacting National Geographic to confirm the breadth and scope of Huller’s involvement with the project and have yet to hear back from them.

Never satisfied with simply being told about one’s achievements, a quick search of the Internet turns up the following links:

  • http://therealmessiahbook.blogspot.com/ – The tag line reads “A bestseller on Christian Origins and Soon To Be One Hour Cable Documentary Begins Shooting in November!”
    • A sidenote: Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #986,550 in Books as of Jul 13 2011.
    • Also note the reviews, which are very thorough and outline large facets of Huller’s claims that fall very far from currently accepted academic theories.
  • http://josephusisfullofshit.blogspot.com/ – Note the subdomain.
  • http://stephanhuller.blogspot.com/2009/08/love-letter-from-evangelicals.html – Huller criticizes an individual who was critical of his book on Amazon.
    • A sidenote: In this article Huller is quite critical, himself, of  the Fox network, however National Geographic — the channel that he claims is hosting his documentary — is owned by Fox with a 75% share.
  • An entire thread on Theology Web, where a bit rough-and-tumble, has some archives of Huller’s spamming and book promos.
  • And of course, Stephan Huller’s Observations, where the latest discussions are going on.
    • A sidenote: Huller tends to claim he has “articles” in academic “journals,” but his only peer-reviewed publication appears to be that one article in the Journal of Coptic Studies. If further citations are provided I shall update this.
    • Another sidenote: Huller occasionally has deleted content entirely that did not seem favorable to his position after the fact, rather than retracting and redacting it publicly. His original post that discussed “The Bastards at the Biblioblog Top 50” is now completely missing.

Finally, I would also like to share the following information about the Reference Library that, in my opinion, has been misrepresented by Huller’s comments:

  • There are no creedal requirements to be on the “List of Biblioblogs.”
  • The difference between a “Biblioblog” and a “Related Blog” in the new system of categories is primarily the demonstrated use of academic framework in addition relevant focus.
  • Credentials, publications, and press coverage are additional criteria, not core criteria, and are weighed on a case-by-case basis.
  • No one is being “kept” from the ranking system. All individuals who were on the main Biblioblogs list (~300 blogs) are now on the new system. Once they are categorized, I will be moving on to the original Related Blogs list (some additional ~300 blogs) which will be imported in bulk and then categorized like the first list.
  • Because the BRL is a volunteer project, this may take some time.

With all of this in mind, I would like to (mis-)quote the musings of C. H. Barbossa:

Yarrr!“The Code (at this point) is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

So yes Stephan,  Joel and Tom are arguing with you and things got a little heated. However as I see it, it was you who provoked them. As such, by all accounts, as you were the individual who was uncivil first, there is no platform in this case to demand anyone’s excommunication.

I am going to be firm about my current decisions. As it stands, “Stephan Huller’s Observations” does not qualify as a “Biblioblog” for the purposes of the BRL as it fails either the spirit or the letter of all three Core Criteria and is getting dangerously close to disqualification.

The power to change that, however, is firmly in your hands.

Will you (as I sincerely hope) take this opportunity as a stepping stone towards that goal? Or will you chance tossing that stone around in a glass house?

— The Reference Librarian

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About Steve Caruso

Steve Caruso is the Translator at Aramaic Designs and The Aramaic New Testament.
This entry was posted in My Own Thoughts and Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Response To Stephan Huller

  1. What am I supposed to say to this? Did I publish a book with Watkins – yes guilty as charged. Do I think that this entire Biblioblog community a social network disguised as an pseudo-academic forum – of course I do. The point is that we’re both engaged in the same things. There is nothing wrong with pseudo-academia. There is a not so blurry line between serious scholarship and marginalia and this is it.

    But with respect to the Real Messiah one of my friends who happens to be a professor reassured me that there is nothing wrong with writing a popular book. Morton Smith did when he discovered the Mar Saba document, Bart Ehrman does it – I fail to see the crime here. I am human being – I like dinner and desert, joy and pain, sunshine and rain.

    In the same way as people delight in cajoling in these forums – I don’t. If someone comes to my blog like Professor Markus Vinzent of King’s College London and says ‘hey this interesting’ the whole blog is worthwhile. I always conceived it as a message in a bottle (or maybe a series of messages in bottles).

    I also like it when people that don’t agree with what I am writing about come to my blog. I have not intentionally instigated these attacks against myself. With respect to the Real Messiah for example – it should be hard to see that someone writing a book about the possibility that Jesus never claimed to be the messiah would ‘potentially’ (maybe, just maybe) lead to assaults against my person in the blogosphere.

    The book wasn’t malicious against Jesus. I even had some Catholic and evangelic bloggers commend me for leaving intact the historical nature of the Passion. Yet at the same time (as one might expect) there were people who took this as blasphemy. I didn’t mean it as such. I’ve never claimed to be atheist (I am not). But at the same time I have serious questions and doubts about the origins of Christianity.

    Now there are lots of nutbars out there and because Joel identifies me as one one has to wonder why pick on me? The answer is of course that if even a nutbar like me could get an article published in an academic journal – why can’t he?

    But putting that kind of pressure on oneself is only going to hamper the creative process. I would recommend that he should stop blogging for a while because – given the pace of his production at his site – his creative juices aren’t able to flow.

    It really is no big deal an article published. It will come, I am sure of that. Joel is very resourceful.

    And if you are interested in ascertaining the status of the documentary why don’t we do a conference call with the production company. I would be more than happy to call you up do a ‘three way’ and let you speak directly with my contact. Unless of course your purpose is to do what Joel did in 2010:

    “I am writing to you to state my obvious disgust with Stephan Huller, who you are attempting to put on air later this year. I would encourage you to take some time to read his blog, and the personal emails between himself and Maurice Casey, examining his demeanor and his inability to be questioned. Ignoring the question of his scholarship, or the lack thereof, Mr. Huller has consistently presented himself as one who could write a bad Dan Brown novel and believe that it was real. I have discussed issues with him many times, and found him to be at best, inapt.” [Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 11:42 AM]

    ‘Inapt.’ Someone using the word ‘inapt’ where the word ‘inept’ is appropriate is proving himself just that.

    As I have said many times the Maurice Casey incident (http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/tag/stephan-huller/) is at the heart of all of this nonsense. It has nothing to do with me being ‘dishonest,’ ‘mentally unstable,’ ‘evil’ etc.

    Of course all anyone cares about here is whether or not they’ll get Joel’s blog traffic. But what kind of person would actually make contact and write an email like this? Do you think he was looking out for the company’s best interest. If this isn’t pure jealousy I don’t know what is?

    No, it’s just a ‘concerned citizen’ making sure that another kook doesn’t get in the way of getting at the truth about the Mar Saba document. Yeah right.

    Like I said, if you want to speak to the production company to help establish my credentials be my guest. Let me know, email me your number and we call tomorrow.

  2. Steve Caruso says:

    Stephan,

    First, welcome to the Internet and all of its social trappings. 🙂 The Biblioblog community is a partially academic partially leisure-based forum. The majority of Bibliobloggers are credentialed, published, hold academic positions and Biblioblogging as a phenomena has been recognized by the Society for Biblical Literature (an organization that has bestowed Affiliate status upon all Bibliobloggers who are also members). Calling it a “pseudo-academic” forum is misinformed at best.

    Second, the problem is not a matter of writing a popular book. The problem is when you try and conflate your published materials with your popular book, insisting that one validates the other when it appears that two have very different trajectories and goals. This happens quite often in a number of different fields, but tends to be the highest-profile (for example) the “Intelligent Design” community where individuals who are credentialed and have published articles in respected peer-reviewed journals personally espouse a cosmology that the current scientific community does not endorse, and yet press the issue that their belief in their cosmology has more clout because they are published in peer-reviewed journals.

    Would you be willing to post a copy of your article from the Journal of Coptic studies and then compare it to the Amazon reviewers’ comments of your book? I believe that we may see a very different picture painted between the two.

    Third, I am not going to talk with your production company at this time. I have worked with production companies before and I am very familiar with their trappings (both for film and video games) which is why I am talking with National Geographic directly and privately first. I want to know what they have to say on the matter, unmediated. Once that is out of the way, we can consider the other and when that happens you can then give me your contact’s number and I can see how things add up independently. 🙂

    Fourth, it is obvious that I do not endorse everything Joel has said/did. At the same time, I will not attempt to get into his head. When I asked him to redact his post and make it more civil, he did so as a favor immediately because he respected my work on the Library. In your case, I find it very disheartening when *I’m* called a “bastard” by someone who doesn’t know me in relation to a project that I had recently joined after forcing their way into a set of rankings by donning a tag on their blog like a trophy, claiming an “honor” they had not been given was not rightly bestowed upon them because of their faith (which in truth had nothing to do with it). The rankings at this point are not metrics that bestow any amount of prestige. They are for fun. When that fun become muddled, we have a problem and the strongest element of this problem is becoming its consistency. This needs to stop.

    Now in closing, if you do want to be reconsidered for the main Biblioblogs list, I encourage you over the next month to write a series of articles on your blog on more traditional, more ‘mainstream’ academic topics and from there on feature more ‘mainstream’ academic subjects regularly. If you feel that this hampers any “creative process” then perhaps the main Biblioblogs list is not a goal for which you should aim. In that case, why not enjoy being on the Related List where you will be free to express your creativity without having to focus on a subject that you do not wish to blog about in the first place?

    Peace,
    -Steve

  3. In all fairness I did the exact same thing when I used the term ‘bastards’ in the plural – I immediately took the post (as requested by you in an email). Just for the sake of clarity – following those very same instructions (or implied threat) left you questioning my integrity. I was just doing what you told me.

    Believe it or not I actually get along quite well with most people and to demonstrate that I will go one step further as a gesture of good faith – I will take down references to Joel Watts at my blog as soon as I finish this email and only have nice things to say about him or any other members of this forum.

    I bet he’s a great husband and father. He probably has a wonderful side to him that I haven’t seen yet. Far from me to claim that there aren’t reasons to criticize me, the Real Messiah or anything else for that has to do with me. Please just don’t shout them at me like a dog.

    No one’s perfect, least of all me.

    With respect to all this fuss about categorization – you know what? Just do whatever you feel is best. My wife and son went back to Toronto this week while I had to stay home and work. Maybe I was a little touchy about being left out about the new exciting project you are working on.

    Sometimes we never grow beyond the sandbox. No one likes to be the kid no one picks for the team.

    The subject of my blog for the next week or so will be asking whether or not Cyril of Jerusalem’s Mystagogic Catecheses and related catechetical texts show knowledge or contact with the Letter to Theodore. I hope to have an interview with a scholar who wrote one of the most important books on Cyril’s Mystagogic Catecheses hopefully by Monday.

    If however (a) my two Russian colleagues find a handwriting match within the Russian archives for the handwriting of the Mar Saba letter or (b) my Greek contact’s CD with hundreds of examples of the marginalia in the books sent by John Priggos from Amsterdam to Callinicus III the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (1757) and which now reside in the Zagoras library turn up to have something more interesting – I will have to preempt my blogging on Cyril.

    Personally I don’t think that (b) is as likely as I once thought given the fact that I went through every single book in the Zagoras library that has been scanned over the last decade (though perhaps representing only half of the total books) and did not find a match handwriting sample. Nevertheless, like Forrest Gump says – you never know what life will bring.

    I hope my plans are okay with you and the Biblioblog Top 50 staff. If you have any other suggestions for what I should blog about please let me know.

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