Posted on October 11, 2009 at 8:52 am by Dr. Jim
Posted on October 10, 2009 at 11:03 am by Dr. Jim
The Department of Biblical Studies not only has a tremendous legacy of research on the part of its faculty members but an impressive tradition of inspiring innovative critical research by other academics around the world due to the many global contacts the department had fostered over the years. Added to this is the respect the department has earned in terms of its high quality pedagogical methods.
I spend one year in the 1990s in Sheffield after completing my PhD in biblical studies at the University of Edinburgh, turning my dissertation into a manuscript for publication in the (then) Sheffield based Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series. The Department of Biblical Studies embodied the highest ideals of the open exchange of ideas and I was made more than welcome to join in the seminars although I had no formal affiliation with the university (my wife was studying in the library department). I found my experiences in the department to be inspiring and highly educational and some of the contacts I made have lasted to this day.
In closing, I would ask that you reconsider this counter-productive decision, the ultimate academic cost to the University of Sheffield would greatly outweigh any financial savings.
Dr. James R. Linville
Chair, Department of Religious Studies,
University of Lethbridge,
Lethbridge AB, Canada.
Posted on October 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm by Dr. Jim
It is an idea worth thinking about.
The Society of Biblical Literature is a major international academic organization. It includes scholars working within a wide variety of scholarly sub-disciplines from ancient history and assyriology to culture criticism and philosophy. SBL’s publications, its many books and flagship journal, Journal of Biblical Literature, along with the vast majority of its conference sessions reflect a serious and secular approach to its many areas of interest.
It is no overstatement to say, however, that the academic interests and methods of the SBL’s members overlap extensively with the interests of many religous organizations. Moreover, a significant proportion of it members’ work straddles the fully secular world of biblical scholarship and its counterpart within confessional discourses. As is well known, the SBL has a number of affiliations with confessional groups that hold sessions at the SBL national and regional meetings.
Are secular academic standards impacted by this blurring of boundaries with overt religious discourses? Some members of the SBL think so and have published such views not only in the SBL’s online magazine Forum (see articles by H. Avalos, M. Fox and J. Berlinerblau) but elsewhere, too. Most famously, Hector Avalos’ The End of Biblical Studies and Jacques Berlinerblau’s The Secular Bible. Most recently, see Kurt Noll’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Of course, the great majority of secular scholars in SBL and other academic organizations are not as outspoken as those named above and my find little that is disturbing with the status quo as they are not unduly prevented from saying and publishing their own work. The number of people who are concerned about the “unsecular” marriage between biblical scholarship and faith based academics, however, may be more significant than those who have already put their views into print or on the internet.
Perhaps some kind of informal asociation, perhaps built around a shared blog or email list could give those interested a venue for sharing and further developing constructive criticisms and other contributions to the practice of biblical scholarship. It may even be possible to have in-person meetings or even sessions at the SBL meetings at some point in the future.
One could expect such an association—especially it if is seeking an affiliate status with the SBL—would be seen as unnecessary by many and provocative or even aggressive or offensive by others. Exactly how “assertive” it should be is an open question and I don’t want to offer an opinion on that at the outset. If the association has an identity outside of the SBL, however, it would have the independence of thought that a regular SBL session or consultation might not have.
Here are a few topic ideas I think might work as possible session themes for such a group to discuss in public fora.
1) The practical limits of a “Great Divorce” between theistic and non-theistic (running the gamut from firm atheism to professional agnosticism) biblical scholarship: e.g., academic isolation, institutional structures.
2) Non-theistic biblical scholarship’s relationship with the wider world of secular study of religion, cultures and societies.
3) Pedegogy: how can one best teach non-theistic biblical studies when a large portion of most library holdings mix theological and secular materials. It is often hard for students to identify theological agendas in the prsentation of data or reasoning in many books that remain very useful and profitable to read. There are a lot more issues that might be addressed besides these. Some will occasion little objection and others that might be more controversial.
Beyond this, I don’t want to say anything more at this point. Little would be gained by springing something fully formed on others. What I think needs to be done now is for those who are interested to talk about whether such an idea would or might work, how it might be organized, what the exact nature of it might be and who might be willing to do some work on the project.
GO TO THE SECULAR BIBLICAL STUDIES PAGE
for more information.
Posted on October 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm by Dr. Jim
Posted on October 9, 2009 at 8:50 am by Dr. Jim
Posted on October 7, 2009 at 6:13 pm by Dr. Jim
Posted on October 7, 2009 at 7:46 am by Dr. Jim
Posted on October 6, 2009 at 7:02 pm by Dr. Jim
Posted on October 5, 2009 at 6:37 pm by Dr. Jim
Maybe I missed an email somewhere in all the spam I get, but here is the first list of new Review of Biblical Literature reviews I’ve seen in a few weeks. And, as is the new tradition, I select three books (not based on the review except for identifying matters of content) I most want the library at the U. of Lethbridge to buy. And I honour such books with a custom made lolcat!
Gershom M. H. Ratheiser
Mitzvoth Ethics and the Jewish Bible: The End of Old Testament Theology
Reviewed by Ben Ollenburger
Lawrence M. Wills
Not God’s People: Insiders and Outsiders in the Biblical World
Reviewed by Lara van der Zee-Hanssen
Using an array of biblical texts from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, Not God’s People explores how ancient Jews and Christians created their own identity in relation to others. The book analyzes how biblical texts define ‘us’ and ‘them,’ how these texts differ in the way they define group identity, and how this process continues to be re-created by Jews and Christians today.
Configurations of Rape in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary Analysis of Three Rape Narratives
Reviewed by Susanne Scholz
In Configurations of Rape in the Hebrew Bible, Frank M. Yamada explores the compelling similarity among three rape narratives found in the Hebrew Scriptures. These three stories—the rape of Dinah (Genesis 34), the rape of an unnamed concubine (Judges 19), and the rape of Tamar, daughter of David (2 Samuel 13)—move through the same plot progression: an initial sexual violation of a woman leads to escalating violence among men, resulting in some form of social fragmentation. In this intriguing study, Yamada draws from the disciplines of literary and narrative criticism, feminist biblical interpretation, and cultural anthropology to argue for a family resemblance among these three stories about rape.
The Runners Ups.
Lars Aejmelaeus and Antti Mustakallio, eds.
The Nordic Paul: Finnish Approaches to Pauline Theology
Reviewed by Erik Heen
Philip S. Alexander
The Targum of Lamentations: Translated, with a Critical Introduction, Apparatus, and Notes
Reviewed by Archie Wright
Sandra Gravett, Karla Bohmbach, F. V. Greifenhagen, and Donald Polaski
An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: A Thematic Approach
Reviewed by J. Dwayne Howell
Hellenistisches Christentum: Schriftverständnis-Ekklesiologie-Geschichte
Reviewed by Friedrich Reiterer
Rachel Mairs and Alice Stevenson, eds.
Current Research in Egyptology 2005: Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Symposium, University of Cambridge 2005
Reviewed by Roxana Flammini
M. Sydney Park
Submission within the Godhead and the Church in the Epistle to the Philippians: An Exegetical and Theological Examination of the Concept of Submission in Philippians 2 and 3
Reviewed by Mark A. Jennings
Jonathan T. Pennington and Sean M. McDonough
Cosmology and New Testament Theology
Reviewed by Michael J. Lakey
Enno Edzard Popkes
Die Theologie der Liebe Gottes in den johanneischen Schriften: Zur Semantik der Liebe und zum Motivkreis des Dualismus
Reviewed by Jan G. van der Watt
Von Jesus zum Neuen Testament: Studien zur urchristlichen Theologiegeschichte und zur Entstehung des neutestamentlichen Kanons
Reviewed by Nils Neumann
David Sim and Boris Repschinski, eds.
Matthew and His Christian Contemporaries
Reviewed by Glenna Jackson
Tertullian the African: An Anthropological Reading of Tertullian’s Context and Identities
Reviewed by Ilaria L. E. Ramelli
Posted on October 5, 2009 at 5:56 pm by Dr. Jim