More on secularism on SBL Forum
There is a follow up response to the Michael Fox piece on the SBL forum by Jacques Berlinerblau, author of The Secular Bible. His position (in this piece) is quite close to what I have argued on this blog and what I have argued in the opening chapter of a forthcoming book (oh, don't worry that WILL be plugged). Here's a taster:
Professor Fox has called attention to a topic that is virtually taboo in biblical scholarship. I disagree strongly with some parts of his analysis. Yet I sense that his remarks may be a cause and an effect of a significant change. We are, after all, conducting this dialogue on the web page of the Society for Biblical Literature — an organization that has traditionally shown itself to be somewhat impervious to the charms of both self-reflexive scrutiny and secularism.
This is a crucial point:
We would both agree that faith-based Bible study has every right to take place in seminaries and religiously chartered institutions. I am a bit concerned, as I imagine he might be, by the degree to which explicitly confessional researchers sit on editorial boards of major journals, steering committees, search committees, and the hierarchy of the Society of Biblical Literature...Assume for a moment that you are an atheist exegete. Now please follow my instructions. Peruse the listings in Openings. Understand that your unique skills and talents are of no interest to those institutions listed there with the words "Saint" and "Holy" and "Theological" and "Seminary" in their names. This leaves, per year, about two or three advertised posts in biblical studies at religiously un-chartered institutions of higher learning. Apply for those jobs. Get rejected. A few months later learn — preferably while consuming donuts with a colleague — that the position was filled by a graduate of a theological seminary. Realize that those on the search committee who made this choice all graduated from seminaries themselves. Curse the gods.
This is worth noting!! -
I am always amused to hear how some higher-ups in the latter society complain about the religious conservatism of the SBL — as if the AAR embodies the blasphemous spirit of Jean-Paul Sartre, Chairman Mao, and the Oakland Raiders of the 70s.
Oh, and this:
...in recent years I have increasingly noted the presence in both societies of a small, but growing cadre of non-believers, heretics, and malcontents. Whether we have anything of substance to offer our disciplines remains to be seen. Of course, this begs the question of whether our colleagues will ever consent to listen to us.
I wonder who he could be talking about???!!!