For me the notion of scholarship is tied up with the conviction that you follow the evidence. If the evidence (let's say for the authorship of 2 Peter, or the effectiveness of homoeopathy) points in a particular direction - and it does - you acknowledge that. If the evidence runs contrary to your own views, you acknowledge that too. You don't fudge the issues.
|Raymond E. Brown|
It bears restating. Fr. Brown remained loyal to his church's dogma, yet he didn't let that affect his commitment to laying out the clear evidence which led in a different direction.
Was he a scholar? Absolutely. Was he an apologist? Not in my book.
An apologist selects, shapes and massages the evidence to support an existing view. Like Calvinists who read the Bible backwards (the Old Testament in the light of the New) they begin with a conviction then engage in a cherry-picking exercise to lend it credibility. An apologist can certainly use scholarly tools, but are they truly free to follow where the evidence leads? How can they when they've already reached the conclusion in advance?
Then cometh the chorus: but we've all got a bias. No argument. But the point is largely irrelevant. Most of us can distinguish between what we'd like to believe and the uncomfortable facts. When the two clash we either draw the wagons into a circle or we are forced to grow a little by accommodating the new information.
The apologist does the former, the scholar the latter.