About Providence, Divine Action and the Church

In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Being an Independent Scholar [2]

The future of biblical scholarship in the UK lies with independent scholars. By this I mean faith-based biblical scholarship, since any other kind is merely using the biblical text as the basis for practising another discipline such as anthropology, ancient history or literary criticism. Such scholars should be working within departments more suited to their chosen discipline and, although they can and do contribute to the discipline of real biblical study, they should in no way be allowed to set the agenda as has unfortunately become the case in many places.

There is no such thing as objective biblical scholarship, that is, biblical scholarship produced by those with no faith commitment. I have often said that a professor of French who had never been to France, did not speak the language, and doubted that France even existed would not be taken seriously. The same should apply with biblical studies, but it does not.
The result is that the much biblical study produced in the UK, outside the faith-based institutions, is of no use to the consumers of biblical scholarship, that is, the faith-based communities. Any medical school that produced no graduates fit to practise medicine and no research relevant to the human body would be closed down. The same should apply with biblical studies, but it does not. 

All the independent biblical scholars that I know work from a faith-based perspective, and it is with us that the future lies. It is necessary to recognise this, and not allow ourselves to be convinced that those who are not earning a living by their scholarship are somehow second rate. 

Those who want to continue biblical scholarship need to have another profession too, simply to earn a living, and it will be obvious that only those with a real commitment to scholarship will be prepared for the considerable hard work and real sacrifice that is necessary. In many cases the years of family responsibility will be a time of just keeping up to date and general reading; it is only when such responsibilities become less time consuming that productive research becomes possible again.

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