Sunday, March 26, 2006

Faith and Scholarship (Again)


We are in a situation where often faith-based scholarship feels and is made to feel inferior to secular scholarship. Consequently, evangelicals tend to publish their brightest ideas in non-confessional journals, allowing people like Michael Fox (in the SBL Forum) to claim that secular scholarship should take credit for all advances in human knowledge.
That's from Peter J. Williams at Alan Bandy's blog, in what has been an interesting series. I would also note to other possible "problems":

(1) Some ideas that might be deemed "evangelical" are not prized at many non-confessional journals, originality being more favorable than defense of traditional ideas; this is understandable but frustrating--I'm sure we've all read journal articles or dissertations which are virtually worthless, but possess that all-t00-desirable asset of "creativity."

(2) I note here an off-hand comment by Mark Goodacre earlier this winter where he cites an article from “…a journal I don't think I've read before, I'm ashamed to say, called Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.” This is certainly not to slam Mark, but I do wonder whether this is because the content of the Journal is too restricted confessionally speaking, or because it is subpar in quality (surely sometimes the case, but not always), or because of general non-evangelical prejudice (not by Mark, but by the wider scholarly community, which could of course have affected him; I'm allowing that this could be warranted prejudice, btw) or general lack of interest, perhaps because of the more "traditional" approaches usually taken, or assumed to be taken, in the scholarship represented in such journals.

This explains how Blomberg or others can argue that the idea of Midrash in Matthew has been refuted effectively, while others have no clue about the challenges, precisely because many (a majority?) of the “important” responses to Gundry (and others like Goulder through him) are from evangelicals in evangelical journals or books, for example: D. A. Carson, "Gundry on Matthew: A Critical Review," TrinJ 3NS (1982): 71-91; Philip B. Payne, "Midrash and History in the Gospels With Special Reference to R. H. Gundry's Matthew," in Gospel Perspectives, vol. 3 (ed. R. T. France and David Wenham; Sheffield: JSOT, 1983): 177-215; Douglas J. Moo, "Matthew and Midrash: An Evaluation of Robert H. Gundry's Approach," JETS 26 (1983): 31-39; and Scott Cunningham and Darrell L. Bock, "Is Matthew Midrash?" BSac 144 (1987): 157-80.

Perhaps there is simply too much talking past one another in separate corners, and scholars of all sorts would profit massively from better interaction with those of other realms.

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