Academic Freedom at SBL 2013! Get your proposal written!
Posted on January 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm by Dr. Jim
The call for papers for the 2013 Society of Biblical Literature conference in Baltimore (Nov. 23-26) is up and running, and I thought I would advertise one of the sessions/topics that the Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship Consultation is hosting.
The consultation is co-chaired by Rebecca Raphael and myself, and we are hoping for some good proposals and good turnouts to our sessions. This will be the first year we open the unit to all and sundry, so hopefully we will get a lot of responses and our Consultation will prove its value.
Brought on by the number of cases in which scholars have been disciplined when their academics interfere with the faith statements of their schools, the MBSC thought it would open up a conversation on the topic. Of course, the most recent example of this situation has only just been “resolved,” with Prof. Christopher Rollston voluntarily leaving Emmanuel Christian Seminary (Johnson City TN) where he was being disciplined for criticizing in a Huffington post article the tradition of not seriously questioning the biblical marginalization of women. The ridiculous over-reaction to this by Emmanuel, and especially Prof. Blowers, would have been comical if someone’s career was not on the line! Basically, Blowers and the school’s president not only made asses of themselves, but managed a Keystone Cops series of screw ups in trying to claim the moral high ground as they were selling out to a donor who seemed to have no appreciation of real academics. Various idiots weighed in affirming the school’s right to defend itself from education (see my long post, here).
Anyway, Rollston took up a Visiting Professorship at George Washington University for the Spring 2013 semester. I hope he finds a permanent position somewhere soon! See Robert Cargill’s most recent blog post for his assessment of the situation. Cargill has been a major supporter of Rollston from the start and he has followed the story on his blog very closely.
There have been other examples of this recently, too, including Peter Enns stepping down from Westminster Theological Seminary 4 years ago or so. Clearly there is lots to talk about, even in a “secular settings” since so much good secular work is done by scholars of faith, even against the wishes of their own seminaries or doctrinally based schools.
Anyway, here is our official Call for Papers:
The Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship Consultation evaluates suppositions in and underlying biblical scholarship, including how an explicitly non-religious approach differs from what is even now represented as historical-critical scholarship, especially when compared to other secular disciplines within the Humanities (history, classical studies) and the Social Sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology). At the Baltimore Annual Meeting, we plan three sessions: (1) one assessing how scholarship has addressed biblical passages urging mass violence toward targeted groups, including scholars’ use or avoidance of the term ‘genocide,’ jointly sponsored with the Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible Unit; (2) a session on academic freedom in biblical studies, across all types of institutions; and (3) an open session, for which we welcome proposals on any subject within our Consultation’s purview.
I’m really glad we got these two topics and thanks to the crew at the Use, Influence, and Impact of the Bible Unit, teaming up with us for the violence one (violence is best with a mob…).
Of course, there are other academic freedom issues too: