[asa] Methodological Atheism in Biblical Studies

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Oct 02 2008 - 11:35:24 EDT

There is an interesting conversation on the Biblioblogs site between a
couple of Biblical scholars about the role of faith in Biblical studies (
 The parallels to methodological naturalism and the role of faith in
scientific studies is fascinating. Here is a key quote:

Ideally, however, academic believers should tune out what you are calling
"static," that is, their theological beliefs, in their academic work. (You
suggested the metaphor!) That's my advice. They should practice
methodological atheism when pursuing academic Biblical Studies. They should
remove their theological commitments from their mind's throne and welcome
the hegemony of self-critical human autonomy.

 Well, I'm not a Biblical scholar, but I heartily disagree with respect to
Biblical scholarship, my own discipline of law, or any other discipline.
 Particularly with respect to Biblical scholarship, if Christian scholars
take the Biblical text as scripture, how can they consider that "static"
when studying what the Biblical text means? And, doesn't the same reasoning
apply to the study of "nature" -- a term that Christians ultimately must
contest in favor of "creation?"

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Thu Oct 2 11:35:35 2008

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