May Contain Nuts and B.S. (Biblical Studies)
Posted on April 2, 2014 at 7:36 am by Dr. Jim
The Highest Award for Biblical Scholarship (apparently)
No, I haven’t won it (yet). BUT…
My “other” SBL paper got accepted for the Blogging session at SBL San Diego in November! The full title:
May Contain Nuts and B.S. (Biblical Studies):
The Politics of Academic Legitimacy Online and the
Need to Properly Theorize the Category “@%!#*! Loonie”
(I like the “@%!#*! Loonie” part)
I’ve been wanting to do a paper for that session for some time, but never got around it, mostly for want of something to say. They do seem to have a lot of fun, though. Anyway, this time I’m in on the goodness.
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.
I posted about my other “other” paper here.