Tuesday, June 28, 2011


In light of John Loftus' latest effort to shore up the sagging fortunes of the OTF, I'm going to reproduce a recent statement by Larry Hurtado:

It’s simply the case that the overwhelming majority of scholars in biblical studies (including NT and Christian Origins) come to their studies in the context of their own personal involvement in Jewish or Christian faith.  Critical study, however, which rightfully means self-critical study requires scholars to try to avoid their own personal faith and commitments from influencing unduly their conclusions.  But it’s sometimes assumed that this is a concern solely for those who identify themselves with a religious tradition, and that those who don’t so identify themselves, or who no longer do so, are immune from what I’ve called “personal stakes”.
Indeed, occasionally scholars make much of their departure from religious faith, sometimes even making that a major subject in its own right (I mention no names, and ask any comments to avoid doing so too).  But surely a moment’s reflection should indicate that there is no really neutral ground, and that those in negative reaction against their own faith are in danger of being unduly influenced (skewed?) in their work as any apologist for a given religious stance.
Years ago I read one of the finest statements about a scholar that I’ve ever encountered.  In a letter of reference for a younger colleague, a more senior scholar said of him, “He is neither captive to his tradition nor in reaction against it.”  That would be a worthy stance for anyone to my mind.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points. One of the fairest professors I ever had was a Marxist during my undergrad days who though we disagreed he gave me high marks as I marshalled the evidence and made the arguments.