In a previous post, I spoke of the modern divorce between Scripture and Theology, and cited R.R. Reno’s article from the First Things website. Well, Reno has a follow-up article today which responds to criticisms he received from his first article. Basically, the “biblical scholars” are reacting exactly as he predicted: they think the theologians are getting a little uppity and are speaking of things they can’t possibly understand, namely, the Bible.
The money quote from Reno:
One would think that historical criticism is primarily concerned with, well, history. It isn’t. As Collins makes his case for the continuing central, authoritative role for the historical–critical tradition, writes Legaspi, “What was once an intellectual project for making sense of the Bible appears to have become a sociopolitical proposal for regulating dialogue.” Biblical scholars are important primarily as gatekeepers. They are academic officials who designate what does and does not count as “responsible” interpretation of the Bible.
That was the primary feeling I got when I first began my study in modern biblical scholarship. For all the protestations of scholars against the “confining” aspects of Christian orthodoxy, I found that the “orthodoxy” of biblical scholars is far more restrictive and punishment for straying outside the orthodoxy far more severe. If a biblical scholar were to publicly declare his adherance to traditional Christian orthodoxy, he would automatically disqualify himself from employment at many top universities, his scholarship would not be accepted as legitimate, and his chances for professional success would be severely limited.
Kudos to Reno for engaging in this important discussion. I have seen evidence that the stranglehold of the orthodoxy of the scholars has been weakening in the past few years; hopefully Reno and others can keep up the attack.