The End of Biblical Studies – Introduction

An Enchanted Atheist (Sabio Lantz) & and Unorthodox Christian (SocietyVs) do a Simul-blog on Hector Avalos’s book “The End of Biblical Studies”. 

Part 1: The Introduction 

Hector defines his thesis for the book in 2 points:

1. Modern biblical scholarship has demonstrated that the Bible is the product of cultures whose values and beliefs about the origin, nature, and purpose of our world are no longer held to be relevant, even by most Christians and Jews.

2. Paradoxically, despite the recognition of such irrelevance, the profession of academic biblical studies still centers on maintaining the illusion of relevance by:

   (a) A variety of scholarly disciplines whose methods and conclusions are often philosophically flawed (e.g., translation, textual criticism, archaeology, history, and biblical theology).

   (b) An infrastructure that supports biblical studies (e.g., universities, a media-publishing complex, churches, and professional organizations).” (Avalos, ‘The End of Biblical Studies’, pg 16)

Hector defines irrelevance:

’Irrelevant’ here refers to a biblical concept or practice that is no longer viewed as valuable, applicable, and/or ethical” (Avalos, ‘The End of Biblical Studies’, pg 17)

Hector states a few examples of this concept in the revelations of modern science, certain biblical figures not being as ‘historical’ as once believed (Abraham, Moses, and David), lack of independence of evidence about Jesus’ life, and the idea biblical authors believed women to be subordinate to men. 

A good point about the ‘cultural capital’ (based on Marxist theory) of the scripture:

Instead, (John) Guillory and the like-minded critics argue the relevant knowledge must be grounded in an awareness of how knowledge is used to create class distinctions and power differentials” (Avalos quoting John Guillory in ‘Cultural Capital’, ‘The End of Biblical Studies’, pg 23)

A final summarized piece from Avalos:

Biblical studies should be geared toward helping humanity wean itself off the Bible and toward terminating its authority completely in the modern world” (Avalos, ‘The End of Biblical Studies’, pg 29)

It is clear to me Avalo’s does not want to end biblical studies, just change the direction it’s taking. I think he does not like the point/focus of current biblical studies – apologetics. I guess he wants it to become like all other ancient literature available out there, plain reading material that does not direct one’s life.

Obviously I do not agree with Avalo’s in his personal direction with regards to biblical studies, studying theology and all. I do get where he is going with pieces of his honesty about approaching these texts; in some ways I can sympathize.

However, I see more to the bible’s teachings and a normal modernization of the ideals being taught; from thence to now. Maybe Avalos as an atheist cannot really see the reason for such modernization, but such is faith/religion.

What do you think?