Jim Linville on Religiously Oriented SBL Sections

Dr. Jim is understandably upset about some recent events regarding a new SBL program unit and shares some concerns he has with SBL sections that privilege religious presuppositions. I think he makes some good points.


5 responses to “Jim Linville on Religiously Oriented SBL Sections

  • Dr. Jim

    Thanks for flagging my post! I should say here I don’t mean to suggest that religious folk should not be admitted to the SBL or that they can’t do good work. Nor should the faculty of religious institutions be considered “non-scholars”. I will clarify my own position in another post once my marking is done or at least held at bay temporarily.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I think you made that clear enough in your post. I got the impression your beef was only with sections that include faith-based presuppositions in their rubric (and I also take issue with that). Are you getting responses to your post that suggest otherwise, or is my post a little ambiguous? Maybe I should edit my post.

  • Dr. Jim

    There isn’t that much of storm raised by the post and some comments of support on James McGrath’s blog: http://tinyurl.com/4vt7hg4

    There are some misunderstandings there that I will clarify in a post as soon as the devil (marking assignments) is sent back to the pit from whence it came. The chief misunderstanding is the nature of the proposed group itself. Some think it is purporting to be the only venue for secular scholarship, when this is not the case. It is more a venue for talking about secularism and the impact of faith perspectives on scholarship into religion.

    There is also an absolutely absurd comment to McGrath’s post by John Hobbins. I will have a LOT more to say about that in a bit, too.

    Feel free to expand your ideas or comment on / correct / refute / defend mine as you see fit, here or elsewhere. The more that is said on any side of the issue, the more good will be done.

  • Mike Gantt

    Daniel, regarding your original post are religious convictions about the text always presuppositions? That is, are you saying that all religious convictions are brought to the text rather than ever being derived from secular study of the text?

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    Good question, Mike. I don’t believe that the purely secular study of the text will lead to religious convictions. I believe that a person intending to study it in a secular capacity can allow devotional interpretations to take over, and derive religious convictions from that study. I don’t see why historical or theological criticism would compel someone to accept spiritual claims, though. It seems to me one would have to accept certain methodological approaches that fall outside of the scope of the secular study of the Bible in order to find those convictions. I personally believe that religious conviction derives from a spiritual connection with, or search for, God, not from a text. The text might compel someone to seek that spiritual connection, but I don’t see how it could do so unless someone were reading it from a devotional point of view. That’s just my opinion, though, and I’m perfectly happy to be wrong.

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