Let’s deal with the regrets first. Yes, I have expressed some regret over when, a little over a year ago, I once made an offensive play on his name.* I have also taken note of Lester Grabbe’s discussion of unscholarly standards of debates and have taken his words as a warning to myself as much as a commentary on a wider situation. I have attempted to understand why the irrational and unprofessional hostility among some scholars towards certain views and to be careful how I do express myself. I highly respect the way others like Earl Doherty and Rene Salm maintain their civility and I am grateful to a number of readers of this blog who, after I had posted something heated, wrote to me encouraging me to keep my cool.
I have also appealed to McGrath to put the past behind us, but even since then his responses to me have been laden with hostile insinuations. I have appealed to McGrath repeatedly to acknowledge Lester Grabbe’s warnings. Till now my appeals have done nothing to lessen his personal barbs against me. It is clear he cannot carry on an exchange without imputing sinister motives.
There is simply no place for this from one who speaks as a representative of the scholarly community. And I am a little surprised that McGrath’s manner has apparently gone without censure among his own peers. This is not a good sign. Some biblical scholars like to follow Noam Chomsky’s outspokenness on international issues. It is time they also took note of his criticisms of public intellectuals.
* (The accusation that I also insulted McGrath an earlier time is false. I re-wrote his name as an innocuous anagram when creating a parable to clarify through analogy a point I was trying to make about his argument at the time. It was by no means an insult.)
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