Should Bible Courses Be Theological? (continued)
My own opinion is closest to # 4, as I have suggested on Kevin Wilson's blog. Surprisingly, this position is the one that is doing best in the poll so far (50%)!
The Targuman blog (Chris Brady) posted on this topic yesterday, focusing on an essay by J Z Smith (click here). Smith writes that the moral and religious questions students actually have are rather distinct from those sorts of issues thought interesting to the guild. I think that this is right, and those voting for #2 may be highlighting this (also those voting #4, of course).
I'm not sure that I agree with Chris, however, that some of the most interesting classes on Bible are taught by scholars of literature, film, sociology, and so on. So often, these classes seem to miss the white elephant in the room: Scripture by its nature is all about claims to suprahistorical truth. It begs us to grapple with suprahistorical truth. You can spend whole courses admiring its literary art, the way history has co-opted it, or even the color of its ink and the weight of its pages (sorry, old joke about the Harvard approach). But somehow, such classes just seem to miss the boat to me.
The Awilum blog posted yesterday on "The Historical Critical Method and Biblical Studies" (click here). There is a great quote from Jon Levenson, including the statement: "A historicism afraid to acknowledge normative judgments about suprahistorical truth eventually deteriorates into historical relativism and experiences mounting difficulty articulating the transhistorical value of historical study itself."
This brings me back to Kevin's current post (click here). In your most recent post, Kevin, it sounds like in your course you propose to bracket discussion of whether we should affirm or deny what the Bible is witnessing to about the suprahistorical. It just seems to me that the study of the Bible begs such a discussion, or at least a little of it. Don't you think God is laughing out loud if we insist on bracketing this most interesting and obvious discussion, and narrow our scope to the tilt of the letters, smell of the paper, and type of stylus used in the writing?