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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Luedemann and Academic Freedom

No doubt many people have the information about Luedmann's appeal...

The German Federal Constitutional Court has rejected Gerd Luedemann's appeal against the exclusion of him teaching in the Theology Faculty at the University of Goettingen.

Luedemann points out that this ruling makes genuinely critical work in German theological faculties impossible.

Further details are found on James Tabor's blog and Tom Verenna's blog.

What can I say? The structure of academic biblical studies is seriously problematic as I've argued plenty of times. Can anyone give me a good reason why questions surrounding belief or non-belief, or if you like any answer to the question of the historicity of the resurrection, should be off limits in a university setting?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Badiou conference

This was a great and very successful conference and very much Ward Blanton's baby. It didn't have the feel of a biblical studies conference as such though there were, obviously, biblical scholars (or at least people conventionally lablelled 'biblical scholars') present and presenting. This was a very good thing from the perspective of biblical studies (and non-biblical studies presumably) because it got some of 'our' stuff out there. There should be much more of this sort of thing: nothing like a load of different voices to provoke thinking.

Badiou's play, The Incident at Antioch, has yet to be published (out later this year I believe and, I think, will be published in English before French). Extracts from the play (a real catch for the conference) were read off scripts by actors who seemed to be linked with Glasgow/Glasgow University in someway and with some pretty impressive performances. The content of the play has some classic debates over Marxism (and such debates continued well into the night - another reason in favour of these multi-disciplinary things) and it'll be fun to read/see in full. But the stand out moment for me was the interview with Badiou because it really clarified his not-always-easy-to-read-and-understand book, Saint Paul: The Foundations of Universalism (1997). In fact he was very clear and coherent as were the questions.

In one sense Badiou's reading comes across as a secular Lutheran reading (if that makes sense) and strong echoes of the so-called 'old perspective' (this point came out in John Barclay's paper). It actually further convinced me that a lot of that tradition might actually be reading Paul right, even if the reading of Judaism is very suspect. Even though I think the reading is right, I do have problems - and maybe I'm paranoid here - with the hard or radical universalist reading because when abstracted so vigorously it is not difficult to make the move to the non-libertarian Marxist tradition by which I mean totalitarianism (cf. E.P. Thompson's critique of Althusser in The Poverty of Theory). All equal in Marx or Stalin? Now, I'm certainly NOT claiming that of Badiou so I ask: am I being too paranoid here in worrying about this development...? Also, the theological reading might be right but again there are similar dangers. Christianity did become Rome, after all. Moreover, it's all well and good talking about all being equal in Christ, no slaves, no male or female and so on but the oppositions remained and remained for Paul. Isn't there a case of false consciousness here...? I dunno. I'm speculating a little. But I'll ask again: am I being fair?

Incidentally, Badiou talked about four groups who need to come together even though the state will to the very best to prevent this. One was students as a potentially radical group. Those academics based in England immediately thought, I suspect, this as a particularly French thing but it was noted the next day that in Glasgow some some students had taken control of some computer centre at the university (one way to stop a modern university in its tracks) and actually won some demands on Gaza, including studentships for Gazan students. On the other hand, we were also told that some students were sprawling 'Free Gazza' (a football/soccer reference for those outside)...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Badiou and the Incident at Antioch: Glasgow

I'm off to this and I may blog on it:

Paul, Political Fidelity and the Philosophy of Alain Badiou: a
Discussion of Incident at Antioch.

13th and 14th February 2009, University of Glasgow


13th February, 2009 (Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre)

Reading of Selections from Alain Badiou’s Incident at Antioch


16.00-16.30 Break


Interview with Alain Badiou
Ward Blanton (University of Glasgow) and Susan Spitzer (Los Angeles)

18.00-19.15 Reception


14th February, 2009 (Wolfson Medical School, Seminar Room 1)

The Use of Forcing: Badiou, Paul and Messianism
Kenneth Reinhard (University of California, Los Angeles)

Paul, Badiou and the Event as Gift
John Barclay (University of Durham)


13-14.30 Lunch


Ernst Bloch and Aristotle’s dynámei ón: Not-Yetness, Hope and the
Promise of the Universal
Peter Thompson (University of Sheffield, Ernst Bloch Centre)

Theatre and Politics, Althusser to Badiou
Patrick Lyons (University of Glasgow)

Response & Invitation to Open Discussion
Johan Van der Walt (University of Glasgow, School of Law)

I now of course expect at least 100 comments. How could there not on such a topic?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Wrong must be laughing in biblioblog heaven. Or up there in his premier seat in the theatre of the absurd. Yes, the best thing to happen to blogging has caused another stir! This time over a naughty hobby.

Mark Goodacre liked the interview but appears to have reservations:
The interview is actually very entertaining, and the anti-bishop reveals a bit more of his voice. He is clearly enjoying trying to see what he can get away with, though, since there is an obscenity of the kind that is surprising (and frankly not entirely welcome) in an academic venue.

I don't see why such language should be a problem in an academic venue. Who decides what is welcome or not? And is biblioblogs.com (where people have been more 'relaxed' and 'jokey' to be fair) and biblioblogging really that much of an academic venue? Maybe, maybe not. I dunno. And what about some of the more naughty seminars at SBL where, I'm reliably informed, even naughtier things are openly discussed? It's welcome there so...

Anyway, I'm a bit surprised people have been bothered by this. It's not like anything racist has been said. I think some of the negative reaction is serious, though I could be wrong. If it isn't serious, I'll have to simply admit that, not for the first time, I'm the victim of the humour. The most dramatic and entertaining attack has come from David Ker. Again, I think this is serious (oh, God help me if I've misread all this...)

Ok, David says,
It’s one thing to slaughter a pig on the sacred altar. It’s quite another to fall down and worship it. But that’s in fact what has occurred at Biblioblogs.com. This august blog highlighting the best of Biblical scholars has featured a reprobate heretic and pervert as their featured blogger of the month...He confessed in the interview with Jim West that he has a special addiction for the most reprehensible sexual practice while claiming to be a husband and father.

Ok, I'm going to suggest that maybe Wrong might not be into such naughty things and it might have been a joke. I dunno. But if Wrong is into such things, consenting adults and all that...

There's this:
And rather than run screaming from the temple, our academics are applauding themselves and the latest object of their affection.

I'm guilty of the latter certainly. In a strictly intellectual way.

And this:
Who is this supposedly note-worthy blogger? Who should we as bloggers interested in the finest in Biblical studies look to as the apex of academia? It is the pseudonymous NT Wrong. NT Wrong is an excellent writer. He is a scholar of some distinction

I agree (should anyone care).

But wait...'there are several reasons why his inclusion in the highest ranks of Biblical studies should give us cause us to rend our garments and throw dust in the air' And these include:
1. He writes under a pseudonym. No self-respecting scholar will long tolerate a blogger who publishes his opinions under the cover of a false name.

A largely indifferent matter (for me at least). If it's right, it's right or wrong it's wrong. On the other hand, as pointed out in the interview, it allows him to be funnier and it allows him to say things people wouldn't say under a real name. A sad state of affairs perhaps but it is what it is.

He is vulgar in the extreme. Not satisfied to pepper his posted with the most disgusting language, Wrong actually wrote a summary post proudly listing his wretched vocabulary.

Again, I can only shrug. Why does it matter? Some of us find it funny...

Actual evidence of his scholarship is sketchy in the extreme.

To be fair, he seems to be the most broadly learned of any biblioblogger.

Why, I ask you, should Jim West not interview Ted Haggard, a man who he has repeatedly slandered and ridiculed despite his repentance and desire to change his way?

Presumably because Haggard isn't a biblioblogger. I mean if he were, then Jim and biblioblogs.com might...?

Then this:
Instead he positively slobbers all over a flaming pervert and two-bit scholar...

An interesting image. Jim's interview was structured and written in a similar way to his usual interviews so if he's slobbered over Wrong, he's slobbered over all of us. If you see what I mean.

But then:
...who does not even claim to be a believer in the Bible or the God of the Bible!

A requirement of biblioblogger...? That means that at a couple more interviews (perhaps) ought not to have taken place.

A warning:
If you have been awarded a “Top 50 Biblioblogger” award by NT Wrong I ask you to consider if this is really a distinction worth bragging about. If the Devil calls you a saint, what are you?

I'm no longer a top 50-er and haven't been for two long and lonely months so I'm afraid I don't recall what it really feels like. :-(

And this:
Biblioblogs.com and in fact the whole of biblioblogdom is completely compromised and morally bankrupt.

A bit too apocalyptic perhaps...?

The glory of the Lord has departed. If those who claim to know the Bible best have sunk to this depth to whom shall the people of God turn?

Come and read Earliest Christian History. It'll get me in the top 50...

Please tell me the general negative reactions were a joke...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

NT Wrong interview

This really is very, very good.