Posted by Pastoral Musings on 11th August 2010
Jewish scholar Ronald S. Hendel on why he is quitting the SBL:
In order to keep up its numbers at its annual meeting, SBL has reached out to evangelical and fundamentalist groups, promising them a place within the SBL meeting. So instead of distinguished academic organizations like ASOR and AAR in the fold, we now have fundamentalist groups like the Society of Pentecostal Studies and the Adventist Society for Religious Studies as our intimate partners…What’s wrong with bringing in such groups? Well, some of them proselytize at the SBL meetings. One group invited some Jewish scholars to their session, asked them if they observed the Sabbath, and handed them materials intended to convert them. And recently the SBL online book review journal (Review of Biblical Literature) has featured explicit condemnations of the ordinary methods of critical scholarly inquiry, extolling instead the religious authority of orthodox Christian faith. Listen to this, from Bruce Waltke, widely regarded as the dean of evangelical Biblical studies:By their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, [evangelical scholars] … hear the voice of higher biblical criticism, which replaces faith in God’s revelation with faith in the sufficiency of human reason, as the grating of an old scratched record.2
This is a quaintly stated position, which directly attacks the applicability of human reason to the study of the Bible. Instead of reason, “faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”—as interpreted by evangelical scholars—should be the rule in Biblical scholarship. Waltke dismisses critical inquiry as an annoying nuisance, like the scratchy sound of an old LP…
..critical inquiry—that is to say, reason—has been deliberately deleted as a criterion for the SBL. The views of creationists, snake-handlers and faith-healers now count among the kinds of Biblical scholarship that the society seeks to foster. The battle royal between faith and reason is now in the center ring at the SBL circus. While the cultured despisers of reason may rejoice—including some postmodernists, feminists4 and eco-theologians—I find it dispiriting…
It seems that Hendel forgets that the Bible includes the New Testament. That includes the words of Jesus who said that we would know the truth, and the truth will set us free ( John 8:32 ). Truth is given to us to change us. Not only so, but we also read in the Bible that faith comes by the Word of God being communicated to us ( Romans 10:17).
How can one deal with the Bible without a measure of faith? It is more than literature. It is Divinely Inspired. We should not only study critically, we should study reverently.
The Bible demands that of us.
Being a Jew, certainly Mr. Hendel remembers the commandment:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. ” (Deuteronomy 6:4–9)
The Bible is authoritative.
We MUST have faith when we approach it. Otherwise we sin.
Tags: Bible, Biblical Literature, Biblical studies, faith, literature, Ronald S. Hendel, SBL, Scripture, Society of Biblical Literature
Posted in Bible, Fundamentals, hermeneutics, history, liberalism, misc, New Testament, theology | 6 Comments »