Here are some lines that seem to me to have acquired the “power” of mantras in biblical scholarship. I call them mantras because I have seen each of them so often in the books, papers, theses and articles I have read by biblical scholars, and they appear to be used as statements whose words carry unassailable potency in an argument. Like Motherhood Statements or the Apostle’s Creed they do not require justification. They are their own justification. And their presence in an argument is clearly intended to have the power to ward off all that is contrary. They may read like formulaic debating lines, but I see them as substitutes for rigorous argument. They are, for the most part, dogmatic and circular assertions that really ought to be made to justify themselves. (Some that may not be circular are simply false; or if not false, vacuous.)
If you can apply them to any particular argument you can say you have won without even having to do a surveillance of whatever might exalt itself against “fair-mindedness and reason”.
Of course, if some do toss in one of these mantras as a cherry on top of a major serious argument, that is fine (I think). But one so often encounters them as complete “arguments” in themselves.
The points that follow were all most conveniently found in a single four-page article. Hence their convenience for isolating and repeating here. (Now I don’t mean to put down their author. Many biblical scholars use these, many of whose works I learn much and highly value. And the particular scholar whose article I took them from is one I have particularly found to be insightful and informative reading in other respects.)
I substitute ZZZZ of COCO etc for the name of a text or person. They represent blanks to be filled in with just about whatever text or name you like. Continue reading “17+ Mantras of biblical scholarship”