Thursday, 7 June 2012

Jewish NT scholars

There are apparently four (US?) Jewish scholars who hold academic posts in New Testament studies.  Three I'm familiar with; Amy-Jill Levine, Mark Nanos and Pamela Eisenbaum.  Each is worth their weight in gold.

Jewish scholars bring fresh eyes to old problems, unencumbered by the dead weight of sanctified dogma.  Eisenbaum's Paul Was Not a Christian is simply brilliant.  Nanos's readings of Romans and Galatians are groundbreaking, and Levine - who I've had the privilege of hearing 'in person' - is an amazing communicator.

But they're highly marginalised out there in the crusty halls of Christian theology.  Not helped by the attitude, expressed openly by an Otago University worthy, that non-Christians (i.e. Jews) simply can't understand or comprehend the excellencies of Christian theology.

What the heck would he know - sipping at the poisoned wells of Reformed dogma!

In my time studying through Otago, none of these scholars - Levine, Nanos or Eisenbaum - got a look in.  Crusty Scottish divines?  Most certainly.  Even brain-dead Dallas apologists were ladled up in course readings from time to time. 


Being a bit stroppy, I remember citing Eisenbaum in an assignment.  I got the feeling that the Wise One doing the marking had absolutely no idea who she was.

I've beaten my gums raw elsewhere on the issue of papers on 'Christian Ethics' being soaked in Reformed pseudo-scholarship while completely and totally ignoring Catholic Moral Theology.  How can that be justified? How can you begin to discuss Christian ethics - assuming the term isn't an oxymoron - without adequately addressing the perspective of the largest Christian communion?

And how come some leading lights involved in teaching theology - specifically biblical studies - at a secular university seem so completely uninterested in thinking outside the square, even a little.

And you have to wonder whether theology - as opposed to religious studies - should still get a free pass in a university environment when it's clearly in thrall to a significant degree (no pun intended) to the vagaries of subjective belief.

1 comment:

  1. Wonder if Eisenman is Jewish - seems to be.
    Like Allegro, He looks to Essenism to unlock
    the mystery of Christian Origins.