2017-01-01

Society needs to know what Christian academics and academic biblical scholars have to say

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by Neil Godfrey

Jim West indicates that because of his training and guidance by the holy spirit he speaks with a true understanding of the Bible. All others, he infers, inevitably fall into error or fanaticism. The Bible according to the trained (at an unaccredited seminary) and spirit led Jim is not simply an collation of historical documents but is imbued with magical powers, being

incapable of causing believers to err or stray from the revealed will of God. The Bible reveals the truth about the Divine and the Human. Believers who adhere to that revelation are kept safe from errant behavior or belief and the Scriptures do not err in teaching said proper behavior or belief.

I’m reminded of belief in the curse of the pharaohs and the healing powers of a murderer’s corpse. Jim does insist that the secret to drawing on this saving power from the Bible is that it be “correctly understood”. Hence only a person with both training and God’s spiritual presence can properly divine the true mantic meaning of the sacred magical words.

Jim West is also one of the pioneers of biblioblogging and today he laments what he sees as the decline of informed blogging about matters pertaining to biblical scholarship:

Bibliobloggers have, by and large, forsaken their posts.  They have, by and large, curved in on themselves and withdrawn from the wider world.  They have retreated behind the safe walls of academia and there they hole up speaking only to themselves.

. . . .

And yet I find it all a bit tragic.  Just when society needs to know what Christian academics and academic biblical scholars have to say, they’ve silenced themselves.  No one has silenced them.  They have silenced themselves.

Farewell, Biblioblog Carnival.  You were fun while you lasted.  But you’ve been well and truly starved to death by the indifference of the very people who should, by rights, be most interested in sharing biblical studies with the wider culture.

Vridar is only in part a biblioblog because our interests do extend beyond the biblical. But I can boast that the very things Jim finds largely absent from the blog of his scholarly peers are explored in depth here. I wholeheartedly agree that many people “need to know what Christian academics and academic biblical scholars have to say” about the Bible and Christian origins.

Jim complains:

In sum, most blogs have simply devolved into avenues of self promotion.  Discussing the work of others has become passe.  Discussing advances in the field has become passe.  Discussing methodology has become passe.

Happily on Vridar discussing the work of others, especially the scholarship around biblical and other serious topics, is our focus. (Scroll down the Categories menu in the right column here.) Discussing advances in the field is one of our special interests. Discussing methodology, I am prepared to say, is one of our special strengths. Tim Widowfield in particular has analysed in depth the current developments in memory theory as applied to historical Jesus studies.

It’s a new year and I’m looking forward to discussing more readings here than I have had opportunity to complete in recent months. Biblical themes will remain a central focus but by no means the sole one.

Happy new year to all. Looking forward to sharing company with you anew.

 

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Neil Godfrey

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5 thoughts on “Society needs to know what Christian academics and academic biblical scholars have to say”

  1. Damn, Jim West is one lucky fellow to have the Holy Ghost himself instructing him on how to interpret the scriptures.
    Who are we to argue with the Holy Ghost?
    Also I believe questioning the Holy Ghost is a mortal sin (sorry, too busy to look up the passage right now.) I would not wish to jeopardize my immortal soul by doing so.
    Happy New Year, Neil.

    1. If I were to receive direct, divine instruction, I’d go with something like what happened to Joseph Smith, with God telling me it’s okay to sleep with the maid.

  2. Thanks to Neil Godfrey for his honesty and determination via Vridar in 2016 and best wishes to all seekers of truth in love. The year ended with me finding a possible harmonisation of the Jesus myth theory (JM) and the legends of an actual Jesus person – what if it was the Romans who crunched it all together – if the gnostic Pauline Jesus (GP) was blended with the Jesus Ben Panthera, by compiling the Bible so that the epistles and gospels were made to look like history ? This may be a threat to various camps but so far it’s plausible to me and I too look forward to more playing with the pieces of the puzzle in 2017 and hearing more of the views in Vridar.

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