James Crossley's blog Contact: jgcrossley10 - AT - yahoo - DOT - co - DOT - uk

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Yet more from BW3!

Some more bizarre comments from BW3 on Sheffield in response to Steph Fisher:
The issue isn't hiring someone on the basis of their faith especially if they do not have the credentials and the critical training for the job. The issue is deliberately avoiding hiring people of faith, and further the issue is deliberately trying to deconstruct someone else's faith.

You have misperceived the issue, and I am sure Fred Bruce, whom I knew, would entirely disagree with you. My suggestion to you is to have a talk with Ralph Martin, long connected with Sheffield. You will get a different perspective on the history of the department.

Wow! How about 'The issue is deliberately avoiding hiring people of faith'! I just don't know what to say but if it is true the Dept has done a pretty poor job (see previous posts). This is stunningly insulting now.

BUT...but...maybe Bw3 was talking about the past because he does bring up Ralph Martin being 'long connected with Sheffield'. As it happens, at least as far as I am aware, I have never met Ralph Martin and I have never had any contact with him. He doesn't seem to have been be a figure present at the British NT Conference either so it would seem I have never had the chance to meet him. I have no idea if other present full-time members of staff have met him: I'd be surprised but you never know. The point being that BW3 is not producing the strongest evidence for some supposed policy of, or direction taken by, Sheffield, at least in the past decade, because Ralph Martin retired from the Department in...1996.

BUT...but...what if this supposed anti-religious hiring mentality happened, let's say, in a time some 15 years ago and beyond...? Aside from being a little out-of-date for the contemporary debates about Sheffield (let's not forget that!), this has interesting implications because one previous Head of Dept was John Rogerson, an ordained Anglican minister. Before him, so was James Atkinson. I have taken the historical detail of the Dept from David Clines' essay on the history of the Dept upto 1997. Clines was also a former Head. Here are his thoughts on the issue:
The Department’s two staff appointments made by Bruce, Aileen Guilding, his eventual successor to the chair, and David Payne, who had been the first student of the Department, were also not ordained. Neither, as it happens, are any of the present full-time teaching staff of the Department. But, whatever the unofficial views of the University authorities may have been, there has never been any animus within the Department against the Church and ordained ministers. Two of its Heads, James Atkinson and John Rogerson, were Anglican clergymen, and the Department has numbered among its staff several Anglican priests, ministers of the Presbyterian Church of England (now part of the United Reformed Church), of the Church of Scotland,and of the Methodist Church. Nevertheless, the Department has been perhaps somewhat unusual among departments in the field of theology in having as tenuous a connection with the institutional Church as it does. That does not mean that there is still ‘no theology’. The name of the Department was changed in 1968 to Biblical Studies precisely to reflect the fact that the ideas of the Bible—in addition to its history and its literature—are part of the central concern of the Department, even if these days the theology of the Bible is increasingly referred to as its ideology.
On hiring full time, permanent posts, I should also add that people from outside the Dept must be brought in, not least to make sure the process is fair. If BW3 is right (and this is only for the sake of argument), then this means that the corruption goes wider and higher in the University and I can't imagine such people would be overly happy if they knew about such allegations. The interviewing/hiring panels have also included biblical scholars of faith so I don't know what they would make of BW3's allegations.

And, look, the BW3 repeats this allegation: 'further the issue is deliberately trying to deconstruct someone else's faith'. I would like to know who is deliberately trying deconstruct someone else's faith and I would like to know what he means by 'deconstruct' (as others have pointed out, he seems to mean something like 'destroy' because it doesn't make sense much sense in the context of academic usage).

As BW3 likes suggestions, let me give him one suggestion of my own: give serious evidence (not gossip, not hear say, not idle speculation) before making such insultingly inaccurate slurs.

UPDATE: the comments have now been removed from the linked page

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fundies like that idiot thrive off gossip, innuendo, speculation and hatred. If they didn't have that, there would be nothing to go to church for on a Sunday! Ignore them, James, they are just not worth it. Better that they shout into the wind than you waste your time trying to reason with the unreasonable.

November 08, 2009

 
Anonymous roland said...

Bewithering is becoming bewildering ...

November 08, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

At least you know who BW is. And he has posted here under his own name.

November 08, 2009

 
Anonymous steph said...

Jimlin has written a brilliant blogatorial:
http://drjimsthinkingshop.com/2009/11/08/cheap-shots-at-sheffield-from-the-peanut-gallery-witherington-just-doesnt-get-it-does-he/#comment-1171

November 08, 2009

 
Anonymous steph said...

Blitherington has deleted the entire conversation from his blog. Talk about truth and honesty.

November 08, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi James:

You are right. I am not talking about the very recent past since you've been hired at Sheffield. I was referring to the various encounters I have had over the last three decades with Sheffield students who had concerns. My concern may well be out of date as I haven't kept up with what's going on at Sheffield in the last 4-5 years.

I do have a question for you that you could bring me up to speed on. What is the relationship between Cliff College and Sheffield these days?

Thanks

Ben W.

November 09, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Is it really true you have never heard of Ralph P. Martin, now retired, and certainly one of the most well known British NT scholars of his era? I can only say-- wow! If so, here is a little summary courtesy of B.W.3---

Ralph P. Martin (Ph.D.) is retired from his position as distinguished scholar in residence at Fuller Theological Seminary and previously at the Graduate School of Theology of Azusa Pacific University. He was formerly professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary and associate professor in biblical studies at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of numerous studies and commentaries on the New Testament, including Worship in the Early Church, the volume on Philippians in The Tyndale New Testament Commentary series, and James in the Word Biblical Commentary, for which he also serves as New Testament editor.

November 09, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ben,

I think we've now officially finished with Cliff because the University (like almost all across the country) are moving away from validating other institutions.

As for Ralph Martin, it not that I haven't heard of him (on the contrary), it's just that I've never met him. He's never been around the British NT Conference and I've never come across him at Sheffield.

Best wishes,

James

November 09, 2009

 
Anonymous steph said...

My goodness - this has happened several times over this CT article. Reading 'As it happens, at least as far as I am aware, I have never met Ralph Martin ... because Ralph Martin retired from the Department in...1996.' to mean 'I have never heard of Ralph Martin' is just one example of several in which Ben has not read what was written to him. It is regrettable that an academic should misrepresent so.

November 09, 2009

 
Anonymous steph said...

Perhaps however, he could apologise to Sheffield now, and withdraw the remarks attributed to him in CT which suggest he is making serious allegations against the more recent department at Sheffield?

November 09, 2009

 
Anonymous steph said...

and really, the notion that he can give us all elementary lectures is both inaccurate and foolish.

November 09, 2009

 
Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

What the hells up with academics?

November 10, 2009

 
Blogger Justin J. Meggitt said...

I am at a loss. What on earth is BW3 talking about? Thanks goodness Sheffield (and every other university in the UK) can only appoint on merit and faith (of whatever kind) has nothing to do with it...(with a few embarrassing exceptions, in some of the older universities, as a result of historical accident). I really think he ought to apologise to Sheffield. Very odd thing to say.

If people want their faith nurtured then go to a seminary, bible college, yeshivah or darul uloom. This may or may not be an consequence of university level study in the UK but it certainly should not be an aim.

November 11, 2009

 
Anonymous steph said...

http://dunedinschool.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/bewithering-is-becoming-bewildering/

I've posted here now. :-p

November 11, 2009

 
Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

I think that if Ben Witherington means that beginning with the FF Bruce ethos, degree of wisdom and standard of scholarship; progressing through losing a capable figure like Lincoln; and culminating in 'God's Gym' and the idea that the common Greek word 'gar' is somehow connected to the English word 'gap' because of the similarity of rho and 'p'...is not a record of progress, then obviously he's right. But long may the department evolve (in a positive direction) and thrive.

November 18, 2009

 

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