Thursday, September 29, 2005

Being Critical, the discussion continues

In his continuing dialogue with James Crossley, Rafael Rodriguez has made these important comments:
"I think critical scholarship would be well served by shifting its focus to the process of biblical historiography rather than its product."
Although I previously commented that being critical should not correspond to always being skeptical, I think Rafael adds something important here. In discussion, the term "critical" is often used to categorize a certain group of scholars or the results which define this category ('critical' scholarship' over 'against conservative scholarship'). The results that fit this category are usually minimalist and reflect skepticism towards the hiistorical value of biblical narratives. In aligning "ciritical" with these results, we have made the mistake that the lecturers at my Bible college try to rule out at the very beginning of semesters, that being critical does not simply mean being dismissive. It means thinking through arguments and making informed judgements.
"But, a preference for certain sources can be the result of critical reflection (granted that, nevertheless, it frequently isn't)."
This statement coheres with what I tried to establish in my previous post, and I'd appreciate to hear your comments on it Rafael! The discussion continues and I suggest all interested check out the full posts at Rafael and James, as well as Michael Bird's blogs.


Rafael Rodriguez said...

I will give a response to your previous post shortly. Let me just add, in light of your comments, that I think the problem about being dismissive runs both ways: in conversative circles, it's easy to dismiss certain scholars because they're 'liberal' or 'uber-critical' or whatever. Of course we prefer to read people who agree with us, but that can easily leave our own thinking/writing feeling provincial or partial. That, I think, is why, say, the ongoing discussion between Wright and Crossan is good: here we have two scholars of slightly different persuasion in conversation. That can only be a good thing.

eddie said...

Thanks for that. I agree, it is important to dialogue with those from all corners, and even more important to publish that dialogue. Not only does it model how to do so, but it demonstrates that one is engaging with antitheticl views.