About Canonizing Acts of Paul

I recently responded to Peter W. Dunn in a post of his about the canonical inclusion of the Acts of Paul.  He is a New Testament scholar and the Acts of Paul is apparently a major interest of his, but I’m not sure if his interest is personal or simply academic.  The post I responded to is a Press Release:

Cambridge-trained scholar calls for Extension of New Testament Canon

In recent months, Dr. Dunn has formulated new theories about the Acts of Paul which have led him to create the Committee. “Initially, I thought the Acts of Paul should be dated to the middle of the second century. But now I am leaning towards a much earlier date around the end of the first century. That is almost 100 years earlier than scholars have heretofore believed,” said Dunn. When asked who was the author of the Acts of Paul, he replied, “Well, Tertullian at the beginning of the third century (ca. 205) reported that it had been written by an Asian (modern Turkey) priest who had to step down from his job. But we have reason to believe that Tertullian may have been misinformed. A good case could be made for Timothy. The Acts of Paul never mention him by name and that is strange. Timothy would have been only about 20 when he met Paul in the 50’s. So that would make him about 70 years old at the end of the first century when the Acts of Paul were written. St. Timothy, according to tradition, became the bishop of Ephesus. This accords well with Tertullian’s claim that it was a presbyter (priest) from Asia.”

The comment I first made:

It’s somewhat arbitrary what was included as canonical. Considering that not everything in the New Testament is from the first century, I’m not sure why that would be a reason to include something. The NT canon was developed based on ideological reasons. There were many Christian texts from the first and second century that weren’t included. For example, Marcion developed the first NT canon and his version of the NT texts weren’t included.

Dunn’s response:

Benjamin: thanks so much for making a comment.

I find it hard to determine your point. Are you arguing for the Acts of Paul as part of the canon or against it? Or are you just simply pointing out that the idea of canon is pointless?

If the dominant form of Christianity that emerged from the second century determined that certain books were canonical and others were not, then it is hardly surprising that such books were chosen on ideological grounds. Why is that a problem?

Finally, your point about Marcion would counter your point that many 1st and 2nd century texts didn’t make it into the canon. Marcion’s canon was restrained to ten Pauline epistles and to an abridged Gospel of Luke, all of which are in the NT canon.

My further explanation of my original point:

The idea of a canon isn’t necessarily pointless.  It all depends on what ideology you use to base the canon on, and our defining purpose must be made very clear.

I’m not in favor of the traditional canon for various reasons.  There is no single ideology that can harmonize all of the texts as the original writers and later redactors had a variety of ideological agendas.  You can find elements of many ideologies in the New Testament.  Also, Catholic doctrine changed over the centuries and so the ideology of the heresiologists isn’t even the same as that of later Catholics.  Even heresiologists disagreed with eachother at times as early Christianity was an endless ideological war.

Harmonization requires ignoring discrepancies and accepting Catholic orthodoxy over the authority of other Christian denominations.  Not all Christians and NT scholars agree that the Catholic church is a valid representative of early Christianity.  The problem is that there never will be agreement.  The closest we can come to a scholarly consensus about what was original would be something like the Jesus Seminar, but there is no end of people who criticize that methodology.

Marcion, the originator of the NT canon, had his own ideology and to the Marcionities it was orthodoxy.  I think his ideology has priority over the ideologies of the heresiologists that came after him.

Also, his ideology makes sense to me in one particular way.  I agree with his exclusion of Jewish scriptures.  I believe Jews have the intellectual rights to their own religious texts.  As I’d prioritize Marcion’s opinions over later heresiologists, I’d prioritize Jewish opinions about Jewish scripture over that of later Christians.

As for the New Testament, the later canon did include what he included, but also included that which he excluded.  Furthermore, of the texts he included, his versions would’ve been different.  Scholars know a fair amount about Marcion’s ideology now and this should be taken into account. 

For example, Robert M. Price attempted to recreate Marcion’s canon and so that is the type of example to follow.  BTW this comes from Price’s Pre-Nicene New Testament.  His methodology is one way to create a canon and seems very fair to me.  He simply included every relevant Christian text and fragment that survived from the centuries prior to the Council of Nicea.  His introduction to this collection is a useful analysis of the issues about what is considered canonical.

Besides being the first canonizers, something important to keep in mind is that so-called heretics were also the first to quote a NT text and the first to write commentaries on an Apolstolic writing.  The first commentators of Paul and John were later considered heretics.  I believe that in considering what is canonical the earliest Christian writers should be given the most focus.  Along with Marcion, I’d include Basilides, Valentinus, Heracleon, and Ptolemy; but others could be included as well.

I further would add that the Nag Hammadi scriptures should be given a place in this discussion.  They represent a major component of early Christianity before the heresiologists took power.  Those texts represent examples of the very evidence that orthodoxy attempted to destroy and so they give insight into what was original to the Christian tradition as opposed to the later ideologies that canonical texts were forced to conform to through redaction and interpolation.

Another factor to consider is dating.  This is tricky business because there are no original surviving texts.  As I understand it, all we have are later copies of copies which have been filtered through several hands of ideology plus simple mistakes and mistranslations.  The dating determines which texts were the earliest and so which were original.  One thing that is clear is that certain canonical texts were based on other canonical texts or else both based on even earlier texts or oral traditions.  If we are canonizing based on the authenticity of the earliest tradition, then we should exclude later texts.

My criticism is based on the reality that there are just too many factors and too many opinions.  The canon was originally created through political power and later military force that suppressed and destroyed all alternatives.  We now live in a different world.  Why not simply have many canons and leave it at that?  If any person wants a particular text included or excluded, all they have to do is find someone to publish their canon which is what Christians have been doing for centuries anyhow.

I guess the question is what is your purpose.  Is your interest merely academic or personal?  If it’s merely academic, most Christians would be uninterested in your attempt to expand the canon.  Your average Christian is contented to accept whatever church authority declares canonical and I doubt church authorities would have much interest in deferring to academic scholars.  If your interest is personal in that you belong to a specific denomination, then that is between you and the authorities of that particular church.

21 thoughts on “About Canonizing Acts of Paul

  1. Another comment:

    I was just looking around your blog.

    I think I now understand your purpose in promoting the canonizing of the Acts of Paul. You wrote about having difficulties with your career as a scholar because your an expert in a text that isn’t canonical. If that text were canonical, it would simplify your life and provide more opportunities. So, your interest is both academic and personal.

    That is an interesting predicament you find yourself in. I never really thought of academics as being in a position to make judgments about what is canonical. I guess I always assumed that academics merely studied what was canonized by religious authorities rather than being involved in the process of canonizing.

    What has been the reception by other scholars? Do you think it’s likely that a concensus of scholars will accept Acts of Paul as canonical? What is involved in gaining such scholarly concensus? Who exactly do you have to convince? Is there a specific academic committee that makes such decisions? What does it even mean from an academic perspective for a text to be canonical?

  2. Isn’t it interesting how religious dogma determines the careers of academics. Because Dunn is an expert in a non-canonical text, he has a hard time of finding work. This is the motivation for academic scholars to toe the ideological line. A scholar who has a view that is too original is a scholar who is unlikely ever to get recognition or even basic acceptance.

    It’s quite intriguing how much power the church still has over New Testament scholarship. This state of affairs doesn’t exactly encourage curiosity and open-minded investigation.

  3. Hi Ben: Thanks for the interest in my post on the Acts of Paul and my difficult career as an academic. I will respond with greater detail at actapauli.wordpress.com.

    Regarding your last comment, I think it is important to note that if a scholar teaches in a confessional school, it is only fair that he or she be willing to promote that confession. If however an academic teaches in a public university, there should be academic freedom. These days it seems more and more difficult for academics of a more conservative bent to be hired in public universities where the bias is towards liberalism.

    I haven’t really experienced open-minded investigation of the New Testament from non-confessional scholars; they often seem just as fundamentalist, though with a liberal bent, as the most confessional of churches.

    E.g., D. R. MacDonald once told me that he had no patience for scholars who don’t believe in Q (not the Star Trek Q); and R. Kasser dogmatically asserted to me that the Pastoral Epistles could not be by Paul when I suggested the possibility. These positions are as hardened and dogmatic as any church doctrine.

    Cheers, Peter W. Dunn

    • I understand that it’s to be expected, fair or not, that someone toe the party line if they’re teaching in a confessional school.

      The reality of the world is that teachers have to make money and so scholarship is rarely if ever truly objective (i.e., without vested interest). In particular, religious scholarship is probably one of the least objective fields. It’s not like hard science where a hypothesis can easily be tested and so proved or refuted.

      I believe it’s important to distinguish between scholarship and apologetics. A scholar might also be an apologist and that is fine up to a point, but if they’re scholarship is limited by their apologetics then I’d say their conclusions should be given less validity than a scholar who has no particular dogma to defend. However, it’s true that a liberal scholar may also be dogmatic towards another perspective. If that is the case, then their scholarship is equally suspect.

      The best scholar is one who isn’t dogmatic in any direction, one who studies the evidence before coming to a conclusion. Maybe no such unbiased scholar exists, but still this is the standard that every scholar should strive towards.

      To simply say all scholars are biased and that is just the way it is would be a rather sad and fatalistic conclusion about human nature. The whole academic enterprise is the seeking of knowledge. If objectivity isn’t possible, then scholarship would simply be a matter of sophistry and debating skills. I hope that’s not the case.

      • “It’s not like hard science where a hypothesis can easily be tested and so proved or refuted.”

        You are hitting upon an important distinction between “science” and “religion”. Science should be falsifiable. If it is not, it becomes religion. Now when it comes to the doctrine of inspiration of the Bible, I will admit it is not falsifiable. So typically, if I treat that subject, I do so theologically and not scientifically–so yes, I try to make a distinction even in NT studies between what is scientific–supportable by evidence and historiographical theory, and what is religious, upheld by my common faith with other Christians. However, believing in the inspiration of the Bible does not make me a subjective person, for I have my objective reasons for believing so, but they are not scientific reasons–not all the realm of reason is limited to science: there is also philosophy and religion.

        Unfortunately, the so-called “hard sciences” are also not free from dogmatic or religious views. This happens for example with one of the most talked about subjects today, global warming. I was recently in blog discussion in which my “adversary” suggested that anthropogenic global warming could cause the next ice age. I then made the claim (to which he did not respond at all) that such a view of global warming is not science, because science must be falsifiable. If anthropogenic global warming is the cause of global cooling (that’s why it is now called “climate change”), and all other calamities, such as divorce and the Dafur genocide, then we are dealing not with science but religion.

        I agree with you about apologetics and science. I have two friends who are systematic theologians who take a dim view of apologetics too; the one says that it is scholasticism that puts philosophy above faith.

        • I respect that you try to make a distinction b/t the scientific and the religious.. It would be hard to not let your beliefs influence your scholarship, but not impossible

          I’ve met apologetic NT scholars before who, although intelligent and rational, were obviously constrained by their beliefs. One in particular claimed that his beliefs were rational, but I didn’t get the sense that he was actually open to changing his beliefs if he were presented new evidence. A belief can be objective in terms of being logically coherent, but there is a thin line b/t proving one’s beliefs and rationalizing.

          This difficulty, however, isn’t limited to the Christian scholar or to NT scholarship. Theoretically, peer review is supposed to protect from scientific bias, but it also endsup magnifying the bias of concensus opinion.

          I was thinking about your scientific example. There is obviously much bias in that area of science because it’s difficult to ascertain causation on the largescale and also there are many political agendas involved. Still, why couldn’t a hypothesis about anthropogenic global warming be formulated in such a way that it could be tested? Anyhow, I understand your basic point that anyone in any field has the potential to be biased. I totally agree.

          As for the one friend, I also make that distinction between philosophy and faith. Putting philosophy above faith is problematic, but so is doing the opposite. I prefer the attitude of keeping them separate as much as possible. They should inform eachother, but neither one should control or constrain the other.

          • I should point out that my friend simply believed that philosophy should not be the Lord of theology or faith.

            “Still, why couldn’t a hypothesis about anthropogenic global warming be formulated in such a way that it could be tested?” I am not saying it can’t be tested. I am saying that when global warming is the cause of every calamity, but esp. of global cooling, then it is not science. For if global warming causes global cooling it is not falsifiable. Take for instance the harsh winter we just had, and the very cool Spring that we are having. Shouldn’t this show that it is not the increase in greenhouse gases (which are still increasing) but some other factor which is the driving factor in climate change? But those committed to the cause of reducing carbon emissions and saving the environment have not let up one iota from their pursuit.

          • Well, I’d hope your friend wouldn’t lord their theology and faith over their objective thinking. I’d consider that a rather sad state of affairs. I highly value the ability to objectively understand my own beliefs because objectivity is also what allows me to understand the views of others.

            I must admit I’m not following your line of reasoning about the global warming. If you’re simply criticizing that one person from the blog for having irrational beliefs, I understand as there are many irrational people one meets online. However, that doesn’t really have much to do with hard science unless that person was a climate scientist. I truly doubt any scientist would ever claim that “global warming is the cause of every calamity”.

            You said: “For if global warming causes global cooling it is not falsifiable.” I’m not a climate scientist myself, but I don’t see why global warming causing global cooling couldn’t be tested. Of course, you’d have to articulate your hypothesis in much more detail. The way you have it stated isn’t the way a scientist would state it.

            It’s my understanding that climate change is a complex phenomenon and greenhouses are just one part of the process. Also, science looks at overall trends and not single cases such as one harsh winter and cool spring. Even when fluctuations occur, a trend still may exist when looking at a broader range of data.

          • The panic in the media is based upon a theory of anthropogenic global warming which takes no other factors into consideration other than the emission of Greenhouse gases: cars, factories, electrical plants, and cows farting in Brazil–these are the main emitters. It does not take into consideration the climatic effect of the most important greenhouse gas, water vapor; nor does the sun play a role in the famous hockey-stick graph that has led to the alarm.

            I truly doubt any scientist would ever claim that “global warming is the cause of every calamity”.

            This is the net effect of the scientific studies that blame global warming for all sorts of things calamities as reported by the media. See this complete list of things caused by global warming. Take this quote as an example:

            Increasing temperatures can contaminate blood meant for transfusions, say researchers.

            According to a new report by West Australian researchers, global warming will increase the prevalence of viruses, like dengue and Ross River, already circulating in the northern regions of the country.

            Or how about zits?

            Global warming has affected various aspects of life. All organisms depend upon the ecosystem directly or indirectly. Increased temperature, damaged ozone layer and agriculture changes are all economical factors that profoundly impacts human life. Human skin is the most sensitive and most affected organ by these factors. Various skin disorders such as acne, scars are the result of global warming and climate change.

            But these are just two examples of calamities caused by global warming from a very long list.

          • I saw the page of links, but I don’t know how much of that is serious peer-reviewed research upheld by a consensus of climatologists. It’s easy to find examples of exaggerated claims or false conclusions. The process of science doesn’t stop mistakes from being made, but the peer-review process works by filtering out over time the incorrect data and mistaken theories. It’s true, though, that the media can cause problems by sensationalizing research without really understanding it and this can influence public policy.

            None of this, however, contradicts my original point. If anything it supports it. The hard sciences are infinitely more objective than biblical studies. So, if the hard sciences can lead to glaring failures of objectivity, then the field of biblical studies is even worse. A New Testament scholar can have a false theory peer-reviewed and nobody would realize it was utter bunk because there is no way of gaining new data to test a theory except by discovering a new text.

            In the case of hard science, different climatologists propose different hypotheses and many of them aren’t that worthy, but a scientific theorizing relies more on direct data which can be refuted by further data and so interpetation is always secondary. In biblical studies, because of the limited amount of data which rarely increases, scholars are forced to rely more heavily on interpretation.

            Furthermore, as many biblical scholars are Christians, the interpretation process often involves personal beliefs and orthodox doctrine. This mixing of belief and scholarship is partly just human nature, but the extent of it found in biblical studies would never be acceptable in the hard sciences.

            As another example, we can leave the sciences out. Richard Carrier has an interesting blog about the use of historical records in biblical studies. He is in the process of writing a book about this subject and he noticed how biblical scholars have a much more loose standard of their use of historical dating. Other fields that use historical records are much more cautious and reserved in the claims they make about dating.

  4. Even when idealizing objectivity, humans are biased for various reasons. One of my favorite fields of study is psychology and so I understand all the ways humans don’t perceive and think as clearly as they might.

    This is as true for academics as for anyone. One of the dangers of academics is that they often lose the ability to see outside of their chosen field and outside the concensus of other scholars. There are plenty of examples of new discoveries and insights being made by non-academics who were self-taught.

    The problem with academia is that it creates an enclosed group of thinkers who are constantly reinforcing eachother’s viewpoints. There is the theory proposed by Kuhn that academics tend to not change their viewpoints, but rather viewpoints change when old academics retire and new academics come into the field.

    This danger of academia is magnified with New Testament studies in a Christian school. The group becomes even more enclosed and even more reinforcing.

    The difference with a non-religious school isn’t a matter of there not being biases, but that there is less of a monopoly of a single bias. A scholar at a non-religious school may have a bias towards Q, but he has to deal with other scholars who have different biases maybe even biases against Q. The different biases potentially can act as a balancing/moderating force in academia. No single view rules and the disagreement of views potentially leads to an exchange of ideas and new insights.

    Also, a student at a non-religious school can take classes from multiple professors. A student can learn from professors who are Atheist and from professors who are Christian of different denominations. What a Catholic professor teaches will be different than what a Protestant or Jewish professor teaches.

    However, at a Catholic school, a student will probably only have Catholic professors and so may never learn of other viewpoints. A student who doesn’t learn a broad range of viewpoints isn’t likely to become as good of a scholar as a student who learns from many different professors.

    • Ben, I wonder if you’ve ever attended a religious school? I attended a denominational school for my undergraduate and an interdenominational school for my graduate studies (Regent College, Vancouver). I then studied in a university.

      Cambridge was for biblical studies an open place, and her graduates come from a spectrum of theological positions from liberal to ultra conservative (i.e., professors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Dallas Theological Seminary attended Cambridge). It was touted as a place where conservative students, such as myself, could attend and not be attacked simply because of being conservative. Other universities, however, do not have that reputation. The apocryphal story I once heard was a evangelical seminary student who took a course at Harvard Divinity School was told on the first day that he’d better drop the class because he was going to fail: (1) because he was white; (2) because he was a man; (3) because he was an evangelical. While studying at my denominational and interdenominational schools, I never felt attacked. But I did fear the hostility that a person of faith could encounter in a university.

      • Nope. I’ve never been to a religious school. I’d imagine an interdnominational school would be vastly different than a single denomination school.

        I wouldn’t give much credence to apocryphal stories. I’d be surprised if such a story was true. I doubt most people care what your religious beliefs are unless you’re proselytizing. Anyways, a professor wouldn’t know you were an evangelical if you didn’t tell him. Why would you go out of your way to declare your faith to all of your professors? Besides, I’m sure there are plenty of conservative Christian professors in non-religious schools especially in the field of New Testament studies. My dad is a conservative Christian and is a business professor at a public university.

        I live in a liberal college town. I know many Christians in town and there are definitely plenty of Catholics here. Nobody I know would attack someone for being a conservative Christian. I don’t doubt that some people might be critical if you were preaching on the street corner, but even then most people would just ignore you.

        • “Nobody I know would attack someone for being a conservative Christian.” Perhaps so. But in Boston I was at a meeting to honor one of my professors, and there I explained to an elderly gentleman, a Bostonian, that I was from Alaska; he became visibly angry, and began to ask me whether the cold had frozen our brains. Then he proceeded to berate Sarah Palin and tell me how smart Barak Obama was. Now explain to me why in a casual conversation a good East coast liberal would talk that way? So I said to him that in Alaska, we have gotten used to the fact that when we get hungry we have to go out and kill something.

          You live in Iowa. That’s fly-over country to most American liberals. Sure, maybe few will mock a conservative Christian in Iowa, but that’s not Boston. I believe the story is basically true. I vaguely remember once meeting a student from Gordon-Conwell to whom this sort of thing had happened.

  5. This is a response to:
    But the thread was getting so thin, I couldn’t write comments anymore.

    None of this, however, contradicts my original point. If anything it supports it. The hard sciences are infinitely more objective than biblical studies. So, if the hard sciences can lead to glaring failures of objectivity, then the field of biblical studies is even worse.

    Well, apart from the exageration of “infinitely” I would agree. In fact, in biblical studies, it is often about promoting and getting others to accept a competing narrative, which is relatively subjective indeed. But I rely on Ockham’s razor to narrow down the best possibilities and I think that reduces the subjectivisim.

    In the end, the global warming is a competing narrative, not science: the narrative can be summarized: “Man is heating the environment by emitting greenhouse gases and this will eventually lead to world-wide calamity unless we do something about it.” Supposedly there is a consensus of scientists who ascribe to this narrative, or so Al Gore and the media tell us just about every day. There is no consensus among them about what is currently driving climate.

    • Yeah, that exageration was intentional. I don’t think it’s technically possible for anything to be infinitely more objective as infinity is an abstract mathematical concept, but of course I was simply meaning infinity in terms of there being a vast difference b/t those fields.

      If I were a biblical scholar, I’d be envious of all of the data that a scientist has available. There is so much scientific data that a scientist can’t even know everything in his own field of expertise. Quite differently, a biblical scholar could more or less know all of the data in the entire field. The amount of relevant ancient texts could fit into a single book.

      I hear ya about Ockham’s razor. That can be a useful standard, but it can also be misleading. What appears simplest may not actually be the most accurate. For instance, a theory may appear the simplest for the reason one is very familiar with it such as it conforming to one’s religious beliefs and so it might just make sense on a gut level. Or else, because of biases or other reasons, a scholar might intentionally or unconsciously overlook certain data because it’s inconvenient and they might even create reasonable rationalizations for not including that data.

      Cherrypicking data combined with heavy reliance on theoretical interpretation seems a common practice in biblical studies, maybe even impossible to avoid. Data is limited and the reliability of texts isn’t always clear. One can always make an argument for why certain data should be dismissed or considered suspect and why other data should be given more weight.

      Beyond that, every text has approximately an “infinity” of interpretations. Texts take on entirely different meanings when placed in the context of other specific texts or when considered as part of different traditions. Throw in redactions and interpolations, and throw in the idea that many texts are combinations of texts and sources or quoting from ur-texts. Texts are based on oral traditions and sometimes those oral traditions were based on earlier texts that were before them based on another set of oral traditions. Or so the convoluted speculation goes based on dissecting tiny fragments of data pieced together.

      One of the biggest issue is dating of texts. A number of important texts have widely divergent dating that scholars hypothesize. And the concensus of dating doesn’t necessarily imply accuracy as it simply might be the holdover from the tradition of decades of some particular theory ruling over scholarship.

      Also, the tradition of orthodoxy has played and still plays a major role. When the Nag Hammadi texts were first studied, scholars interpreted them through the criticisms of the heresiologists. It took some decades before scholars even began to be able to understand the texts on their own terms without biased interpretations.

      Ultimately, it comes down to, as you say, competing narratives. As the data is so skimpy, interpretive narratives are necessary to make sense of any of it. Most scholars aren’t content to simply study a text or a fragment of a text as an isolated piece of data. Most religious scholars probably have a personal vested interest which would even include atheists.

      Most ancient religious texts are about stories and ideologies. People want it to say something meaningful and people read into the texts what they want to find. So, every conceivable version of Jesus has been proposed. On the surface, most of them are very reasonable theories with evidence to support them. Biblical scholars are in a big echo chamber where they endlessly quote eachother in seeking to reinforce whatever their view is.

      At least, it makes for good entertainment. lol

  6. Yeah, I understand you’ve had personal experiences. But that is true for everyone. I could find people of every religious and political persuasion who would have their own stories of being attacked, berated or whatever. That is just normal human relations. People treat eachother badly sometimes. It probably has little to do with the apparent beliefs of those involved. There are simply many unhappy people in the world.

    Iowa is fly-over country, but it’s also relatively liberal in some ways. We did pass gay marriage here after all. Plus, I live in Iowa City which is the home of the University of Iowa. The oldest and most famous writers workshop in the world is located here. As many creative types are attracted to this town, it’s prime liberal territory. However, I suppose it’s more mixed and moderate than a place like San Francisco for instance.

    I do understand, though, your point about feeling uncomfortable while surrounded by people of a very different belief system. I’ve lived many years in the Bible Belt and in the South. As a liberal, I occasionally felt quite out of place. For this reason, I didn’t go around telling people that I was a liberal agnostic… and they had no way of knowing without my declaring it.

    Most people don’t ask you about your personal religious beliefs and so most people would never have any reason to judge you based on your personal religious beliefs… unless you of your own accord tell them your personal religious beliefs, but why would you do that? I usually only discuss personal issues with people I’ve developed at least somewhat of a close relationship. Maybe I’m more of a private person than you are, but I really don’t find it difficult keeping my religious beliefs to myself most of the time. I find it rarely comes up in casual conversation, but it obviously comes up in discussions such as this one.

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