Tag Archives: Society of Biblical Literature

Stupid Christian Pet Tricks #2: Censoring the Hebrew Prophets


We like our sanitized versions of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, all under the hegemonizing gaze as either Ancient Near Eastern social justice advocates (liberals) or far-sighted oracles who see the Messiah all around them (conservatives).  Not all prophets were alike, I am sorry, and they were not nice when it came to language.  In fact, one could say they were rather profane in the name of speaking for the sacred.  Ezekiel, for example, from the translations and interpretations I have read, was quite lewd in his depiction of Israel and Judah (especially chapters 16 and 23).  Roland Boer, to put it in the most politically correct way possible, tried to uncover masculine sexual imagery in the prophets. But the oh so diverse and academic elites at the SBL did not approve of his title even though the paper had already been accepted. Talk about critical scholarship!  Fortunately, Boer has made his paper available on Scribd; I would recommend you read it, it is fascinating and even some insight into the story of Samson the judge (judge being basically a prophet with military and political power, in my view).

Boer’s work increases my fanboyism for the book of Ezekiel that much greater. If you are interested in my more experimental and developing post-colonial interpretation of Ezekiel, you can find it on Scribd as well.

Sunday Amens: The Difference between the American Academy of Religion and SBL

So the week began in a controversial fashion without yours truly, oddly enough, instigating the debate. Rather, the Biblioblogosphere was hit with a surprise by Ronald Hendel’s critique of the Society of Biblical Literature.

James McGrath made a round-up of the reaction on the biblioblogs. Essentially, Hendel argues that the turn to “postmodern” scholarship in biblical studies means a rejection of Enlightenment essentials such as reason being placed over experience. Hendel, in my opinion, is incapable of seeing past his modernist epistemology to see the biases he holds in his world-view. His fear that the “fundies are taking over, and with that, a supposedly less critical approach” to biblical studies” I think displays a fear of religious difference.  This is my judgment; perhaps this is too harsh, but the reaction on many evangelical blogs seem to prove my point. I have a choice of becoming a member of the Society of Biblical Literature along with the American Academy of Religion, but I have chosen the AAR for its religious diversity and the number of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary conversations being held there. Hendel’s critique can only be considered valid for the most part if the emphasis on inter-disciplinary approaches to scholarship are looked DOWN upon.  Biblical studies is not a pure endeavor done in isolation. It is something done in community, and filtered through the reason, experience, and tradition of those communities.  [sentence has been deleted]

To keep along with my theme of staying within the academy, I really appreciated two posts this week on the call to function within the church and within theological studies circles.  Persons on both sides question what’s the point of trying to bridge the gap between the academy and congregation, but I think Dr. Thomas Oord and Robert Jimenez made a great case for why this is important. For this, they both deserve Sunday Amens.