Re: [asa] Methodological Atheism in Biblical Studies

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Thu Oct 02 2008 - 17:36:28 EDT

I think you've missed the point. Doing exegesis, the scholar should not
try to make the text conform to what it "should" say. Unfortunately, this
may be incompatible with a position, either in a church or in academia.
Although it is continuously done, do you want to beat a stubborn opponent
with a club of misinterpreted text? For example, I often find proof texts
from the speech of Elihu (Job 32-37) though at the end God asks about the
one talking nonsense.

As to the law, there is the battle between the activist judges and the
strict constructionists. The only way to settle the disagreement, it
seems to me, would be to exterminate one side, for "I'm right" (usually
phrase as "we're right" to be PC) does not reach beyond the individual's
cranium (assuming there's something within it). The practice of law is
different, for the lawyer has to find everything that will help his
client and counter everything opposed to his client's well being.
Dave (ASA)

On Thu, 2 Oct 2008 11:35:24 -0400 "David Opderbeck"
<> writes:
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 18:47:55 2008

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