writing things down…

Modern NT scholars in isolation

Over a month ago NT scholar Robert Morgan delivered the annual NT Colloquium lectures at Fuller Theological Seminary. He made available to some of us a couple of his articles in draft form. I have been slowly working my way through the largest, “New Testament Theology in the Twentieth Century.” I am not sure what is the status of Morgan’s articles, so I will not reference anything of his. However, I do want to note a quotation Morgan cites. For a good bit of space, Morgan discusses Wayne Meeks’s 2004 presidential paper to the international Society for New Testament Studies (“Why Study the New Testament?” New Testament Studies 51, April 2005, pp. 155-170). I was struck by the following:

The social and cultural bases [which supported modern biblical studies] have all changed. As a result we find ourselves today approaching a state of complete isolation: within the university, lonely practitioners of a quaintly antiquated craft; in the larger world, distant voices scarcely heard within communities of faith and, in the noisy noisy public realm informed by global corporate media, not noticed at all except when we say something truly outrageous (163f.).

What do you make of this assessment?  It seems about right to me.  My hope for theological interpretation is that it will become the bridge discipline good biblical interpretation should be.  That might mean we NT scholars will have to rethink the methods of the “antiquated craft”.  It might also mean that we must do our work as a part of the “communities of faith” so that our voices will be heard by those communities.

I think Meeks’s last line is especially appropriate in light of the recent media hullabaloo over the “Jesus Family Tomb“.


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