Having consensus on our side can be consoling at times, but thinking outside the box and testing unpopular ideas is really where scholarship grows. This isn’t to say that being unpopular makes us right — only that we don’t wish to stagnate in our own dogmatisms. My take is that if you find yourself in the minority too regularly, you’re probably idiosyncratic, given to pet theory, or agenda-driven. If you’re almost always on the side of consensus, you’re likely an unimaginative or lazy thinker, and a crowd-follower.
Off the top of my head, I came up with the following list of ten items where I’m in the minority. These are common assumptions which I believe to be mistaken:
(1) Luke-Acts was addressed primarily to Gentiles.
(2) The Antioch controversy was over food laws.
(3) The “weak in faith” in Rome were Christian Jews.
(4) Q existed.
(5) By the question “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus already knew he was the messiah, and was testing the disciples to see if they could answer correctly.
(6) An early form of Thomas can be traced to the first century.
(7) James is pseudononymous.
(8) “Jew” is an acceptable word for a follower of Yahweh in the 2nd-Temple period.
(9) The event most responsible for Jesus’ arrest and execution was his action against the temple.
(10) The fathers, kings, landowners, and masters in Jesus’ parables were originally metaphors for God.
On these points I go against the majority (though a few are barely majority positions, like 4, 6, and 7). I say that Luke-Acts was addressed to a community of Jews and God-fearers; that Antioch was about circumcision; that the “weak in faith” in Rome were non-Christian Jews; that Q is a mirage; that Jesus didn’t know who/what he was, and was asking his disciples to tell him; that Thomas is a 2nd-century gnostic document; that James wrote the epistle ascribed to him; that “Jew” is a mistranslation in the bible (though I continue to use it, slap my wrist); that Caiaphas was more nervous about Pilate’s trigger-finger when dealing with popular prophets than Jesus’ act in the temple per se; and that the father in The Prodigal Son, the king in the The Unmerciful Servant, the landowner in The Talents, and the master in The Dishonest Steward are all exactly as portrayed and not ciphers for God.
Well, even if I’m wrong about any of these, it’s healthy to think outside the box — and fun if you like to argue and solve puzzles.