Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Trends in Scholarship...

I've been intrigued by some "trends" in biblical scholarship. So has Mark Goodacre turned the tide on the existence of Q?  Or is it just that there is a lot of blogger buzz about the Farrer hypothesis with some of the most popular bloggers (including him) publicly questioning this over a century old consensus? The current standing of the blog poll says the consensus stands, so far. (You know that if it stands in blog land, it also still stands about the elite scholars who wouldn't stoop to blog or vote in a blog poll on the internet. Hey, what's a blog?).

Is there an "emerging consensus" that there was an early "high" Christology or is it just that those with this reconstruction are the ones getting the most publicity in blogging and publishing? I don't know if there was ever a guild consensus on this one. Maybe there was. I wasn't in the mix in the 70s and 80s to say whether Dunn and others were a consensus or just a trend.

I have other questions. Is "liberal" scholarship in decline? Or is it just that demand for conservative scholarship is much higher, so that it is what is being published (e.g., N. T. Wright)? Or is it that the missionary drive of more "conservative" scholarship translates into more blogging? (I'm not sure Goodacre would describe his thinking as conservative, of course)

In the end, it especially highlights Thomas Kuhn. There are social and personal dimensions to scholarship. It's not just a matter of the facts.

1 comment:

Alethinon61 said...

I suspect that one of the reasons Hurtado's thesis is so popular is that many people assume that it naturally leads to a place they want to be anyway (i.e. comfortably nestled in Christological orthodoxy).

Hurtado himself seems to believe this, it seems to me, but:

(a) there are problems with his thesis, IMO, which have been highlighted by a number of scholars (e.g. Dunn, McGrath, Horbury, Fletcher-Louis, Schenck, etc), along with his interpretation of things like the significance of the title "Lord" when applied to Jesus, which clearly isn't done to identify Jesus as YHWH, and

(b) if one strips away the unnecessary assumption that a mutation in monotheistic practices requires a corresponding mutation in our understanding of the being of God, then even if he's correct on the historical parts it doesn't rule out alternative interpretations of God. For example, Dale Tuggy is a Unitarian, but he seems to favor Hurtado's historical picture, at least to a large degree.

I respect Hurtado's scholarship a great deal, and agree with him about any number of details, but I just don't personally see how his thesis can get past what I refer to as the problem of expectation. I have a post about this on my own hardly-used blog.