Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Quote for the Day: The Academic Priesthood

As I juggle Esler & Piper's book in my other hand, I'm also reading Dale Allison's The Luminous Dusk. I'll have a full review of this later, but I can't resist making the following citation a quote for the day in light of our past discussions of experts and amateurs. In commenting on the fate of the bible, Dale notes three problematic trends in today's world: (1) the bible is an anachronism; (2) it is a field of specialization ruled by experts; (3) it demands attentive reading, "the sort of expanded attention that puts things in the long-term memory" (see pp 97-108). Regarding the second, he says, pricelessly:

[The bible] is a field of specialization ruled by experts. Now those would-be experts become such by learning a lot of languages, a lot of history, and then a lot of what are called "criticisms" -- textual criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, reader-response criticism, and all the other esoteric "isms" that have been concocted of late. That is the long, hard road to status and reward in the field, to the teaching job, to getting published, maybe even to getting fifteen minutes of fame. The consequences are serious. When there are experts, everyone else becomes an amateur. Maybe we are undoing Luther -- that is, taking the book out of the hands of the many and placing it into the hands of the few, the academic priesthood. (pp 99-100)


Blogger Rick Sumner said...

Heh, I wish I'd come up with "the academic priesthood."

Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

That's a nice quote, and I look forward to your review.

(I wouldn't say, however, that the Bible is being taken out of the hands of the many, but that the "few" are reading the same "book" differently than the "many".)

Blogger Steven Carr said...

Didn't I read that a majority of American Christians cannot name one Gospel?

I quote 'In a nationwide survey of Americans, the Barna Research Group found that 58% do not know who preached the Sermon on the Mount. Most Americans cannot identify the names of the first four books of the New Testament. Half of all adults (52%) did not know that the book of Jonah is in the Bible.'

I wonder how accurate that survey is.


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