Scholarship motivated by confessional interests
Most of us are familiar with the confessional reflections that so many biblical scholars drop in at the close of their scholarly works on Jesus. Sometimes this confessional is found in the prologue or preface as well. It is like a little prayer uttered by the devout believer thanking and praising the Lord for the academic study he has produced. It is particularly obnoxious when found in the dedication of a formal higher degree thesis. “Obnoxious” because it betrays an interest and motivation that is not entirely scholarly: it is scholarship motivated by confessional interests.
Examples (my bold emphasis throughout):
- “Indeed, for Christians, the unending conversation about Jesus is the most important conversation there is. He is for us the decisive revelation of God. . . .” (last paragraph of Borg’s Jesus)
- “And yet, despite everything, for those who have ears to hear, Jesus, the millenarian herald of judgment and salvation, says the only things worth saying, for his dream is the only one worth dreaming. . . .” (Allison, last paragraph of Jesus of Nazareth)
- “Jesus will always be for me the way to God. . . .” (Spong, last paragraph of Liberating the Gospels)
- “For a believing Christian both the life of the Word of God and the text of the Word of God are alike a graded process of historical reconstruction. . . . If you cannot believe in something produced by reconstruction, you may have nothing left to believe in.” (Crossan, final words in The Historical Jesus)
Confessional statements and astrotheology
So it occurred to me that if I am correct in coming to realize that D.M. Murdock (Acharya S) is just as devoted to a religious view of Christian origins and writes with a view to sharing her belief system in the same way, then in her more neutral and “academically” minded books I should find the same confessional statements, most probably in the epilogue.
I have read sections of Christ in Egypt before but this time I turned to conclusion and here is what I found:
We are currently in a position to recognize fully our natural surroundings, based not on blind belief but, rather, on scientific observation as well as aesthetic appreciation. Regardless of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, as human beings we can all relish the splendor of the natural world, with most people able to cherish an exquisite sunset or full moon, for example. . . . .
The comprehension of the astrotheological and nature-worshipping perception behind the world’s religious ideologies and greatly imaginative and creative capacity of the human mind but also the beauty and awe of creation that inspire and unite mankind beyond the divisive and destructive beliefs. In the end we are free to develop true human community based . . . on shared, common experiences and reference points, such as the mysterious and marvelous planet upon which we all live. (Christ in Egypt, p. 521)
And if there is any doubt about what she means by this humanity saving comprehension of astrotheology, Murdock makes it clear in the Introduction:
Astrotheology — the reverence for the sun, moon, stars, planets and other natural phenomena . . . . (Christ in Egypt, p. 17)
Now we understand more clearly why Robert Tulip speaks worshipfully of the restoring the “dignity” of the moon to its “rightful” place and excoriates those of us who do not duly “respect and honour” the scientific facts of the planetary system. It also explains why Murdock in the above quote limits her examples to sunsets and the full moon: appreciation of waterfalls, flowers, other positive attributes of our fellow species, etc., etc., would distract from her intended point.
[Note: A version of this post appeared earlier on earlywritings.com.]
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