Whose Agenda?

In the brief lesson on “The Nature of Biblical Scholarship” I was talking about the working environment and  Agenda of biblical scholars, not biblical authors.  Professor Hendel, whom I mentioned on the post “The Secular Study of the Bible” seemed to imply that scholars should be neutral and not have an agenda.

Post modern thinkers would say, everyone has an agenda (although many of them seem to exempt themselves from their critiques).  I would say most people who write about the Bible have some underlying motive–some try to hide it and some are very open and clear about it.

It is true that some apply this to the writers of the Bible.  Some use an even stronger word, ideology.  But that’s not my point right now.  I’m thinking of the agendas, hidden or open of biblical scholars.

Hector Avalos is a professor of the Bible who has a very clear and open agenda: To destroy anyone’s confidence or faith in the Bible.  In fact, from the security of his tenured position as a university professor, he seems to argue that biblical studies has no place in the university.  I wrote about professor Avalos on my Alternation blog here, if you want to read more.

He was exploited as a pentecostal “child evangelist”–preaching crusades at the age of 8.  I’m sure part of his agenda is to distance himself from his childhood upbringing.

Biblical Archaeology Review posted a response to the attacks Avolos made on the validity of biblical archaeology here.

Bill’s concerns about the negative impact of historical critical studies are well taken.  One question we have to decide is whether or not to engage with those who use historical-critical research to attack or undermine faith.  I also think we need to pick our battles and ask ourselves what issues are worth fighting for.


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