I’m also trying to get some opinions, views, caveats and threats to use for one of my papers for the November Society of Biblical Literature meeting in San Diego. Here’s the blurb on the paper, which will be in the Blogging and Online Scholarship session on Monday, Nov. 11, 4:00-6:30 pm:
May Contain Nuts and B.S. (Biblical Studies):
The Politics of Academic Legitimacy Online and the Need to Properly Theorize the Category “@%!#*! Loonie”
Blogging provides many biblical scholars with a simple and fast way of presenting their academic views to a general public, even if there is little prestige or formal recognition for serious, academic posts. The benefit seems to lie in the quick networking of ideas and the building of relationships between scholars. The medium also allows scholars to easily play the role of accessible public intellectual, something badly needed in a world that has devalued advanced education.
The Internet’s lack of censorship guarantees a high level of academic freedom but it also subjects scholars to an equally high level of non-academic freedom. Not only is there a complete lack of peer review, the likelihood that any serious post may attract unwanted attention from those with no understanding of the subject matter or fringe theory or doctrine to promote is very real. With most bloggers allowing readers some freedom to comment without moderation, discussions can be easily sidetracked into tangential or completely off-topic exchanges that can get acrimonious very quickly. Disallowing or vetting comments also smacks of censorship and may actually play into the hands of those who see critical scholarship as a self-absorbed ivory tower or even conspiracy against the “Truth.” This paper, then, offers a critical examination of how scholarly bloggers assert the validity of the academic study of the bible, their own academic legitimacy. It also examines the “othering” of non-mainstream theorists, religious fundamentalists, anti-intellectualists, purveyors of alternate histories, internet “trolls”, and assorted “dilettantes” and “crackpots”, and attempts to gauge the impact this may have on the practice of biblical scholarship and its reception by a wider audience.
What I’m looking for is some input from Bible Bloggers or their frequent readers about the boundaries of scholarship, peer review, or anything else that you think might be useful for my paper. Perhaps you have a firm policy on comments, or a post that attracted a lot of debate about scholarship and non-scholarship; I’d appreciate a link. I appreciate that biblioblogging crosses a lot of denominational and secular lines, and this will have to be dealt with in the paper, but I would like to concentrate on the reception of posts made in a non-confessional context. By this I do NOT exclude Jewish or Christian bloggers for whom the Bible is sacred, but I’m more interested in posts that one does not need to be a member of any particular tradition to properly engage in. Anyway, if you have any thing to contribute, I’d love to hear from you! You can make a comment here or email me at james.linvil AT uleth.ca