I was musing yesterday at the "scholarly" coping mechanism that has evolved in biblical studies to gloss over scholarly developments and consensuses. On the one hand, we should probably celebrate that all points of view can get published, a situation bequeathed to us from postmodernism and pluralism. But I can't help but feeling that in an age where it feels like people have given up on even trying toward objectivity, in my mind there's a glut of special pleading out there now on the biblical studies book market.
It seems like whenever a study or trajectory of real significance arises, some "conservative"--meaning someone resistant to change--then commissions a counter-study to address it. Such counter-studies, far from actually disproving the new development, more innoculates the complacent, who can now simply say, "You can see that the new book by D. A. Carson or John Piper shows that this or that is not in fact true but another liberal conspiracy to corrupt the masses."
So Krister Stendahl in the 60s and E. P. Sanders in the 70s expose the faulty understanding of Judaism that has pervaded scholarship since its inception. Now finally D. A. Carson, Mark Siefrid, and Peter O'Brien strike back with two volumes, Justification and Variegated Nomism. It can now become the "scholarly" excuse for ignoring genuine developments. Of course the volumes themselves are far more "new perspective" than old. They remind me of the current "conservative" views on race. There are no Republicans in Congress today who have the same views as Strom Thurmand did in the 50s. Like it or not, the perspective on Judaism has changed, and these sorts of works are more foot dragging than real defenses of older views.
So also N. T. Wright introduces the actual ancient background of the New Testament into his interpretations of Scripture and it begins to make its way down into the masses. Commission a study! So John Piper produces a "scholarly" volume refuting it to innoculate the masses. Sorry. Just because you can write a book doesn't mean you haven't been caught snoozing in the cockpit.
Another reactionary "scholarly" innoculation is D. A. Carson and Greg Beale's Commentary on the Use of the Old Testament in the New. Sorry. The truth doesn't care. The New Testament simply isn't majorly concerned with the context and original meaning of Old Testament passages.
There have been a glut of new commentary series it seems this last decade, but most of them promise to fill Amazon with these sorts of innoculatory pacifiers. Books to allow us not to grow, not to wrestle truly with hard issues.
Oh where is objectivity to be found? Nowhere, of course, but there are better and worse examples of the attempt. It used to be that we simply ignored the experts. Now the anti-intellectuals have infiltrated them, across the spectrum of scholarly disciplines in America.