Saturday, 17 October 2009

Non-religious want group within Society of Biblical Literature

While I don't know enough about the Society of Biblical Literature to know whether such a group could or should work, I sympathize with the desire of John Loftus and others to form a non-religious SBL sub-group of biblical scholars.

I have a BA(Hons) in Biblical-Theological Studies, and have often thought of returning to do postgraduate studies in the field. Recently, as I've glanced around the web looking for biblical studies and theology courses in southern Ontario, I've noticed how many theology departments, even of otherwise secular colleges, are affiliated to Christian churches and denominations. I am wary of studying at an institution that requires some level of religious commitment of me - whether that's adherence to a creed or devotion to a religious practice, such as attending chapel or prayers.

That's not to say I don't have any religious commitments. But why should that have any bearing on my studies? Nor do I think that a religious person cannot be a good biblical scholar. Everyone has personal biases, but a good scholar in any field knows how to look past his own biases and think critically.

For that reason, I hope such a group would be open to both religious and non-religious scholars, provided they shared the group's aims, which are laudable:
1. Promote scholarship of the Bible from a non-religious viewpoint.

2. Produce scholarly critiques of religionist biblical scholarship, and how it functions to maintain the authority and value of the Bible in the modern world.

3. Form a counterweight to the Evangelical Theological Society, and perhaps engage in cordial dialogue and debate with its members through written formats and through joint sessions.

1 comment:

  1. I guess at least now the Univ Sheffield's still an option!