Renewing Conversations: Doing Scholarship in an Age of Skepticism, Accommodation, and Specialization -- By: V. Philips Long

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 13:2 (NA 2003)
Article: Renewing Conversations: Doing Scholarship in an Age of Skepticism, Accommodation, and Specialization
Author: V. Philips Long


Renewing Conversations:
Doing Scholarship in an Age of Skepticism,
Accommodation, and Specialization

V. Philips Long

Regent College, Vancouver

Starting with the proposition that we, as scholars, live by the quality of our words (or conversations), this paper explores how we might renew conversations in three areas. First, in an age of skepticism in which God-talk is methodologically excluded from much academic conversation, how might we achieve a better correlation between our methodological practices and our metaphysical convictions? Second, in an age tending toward accommodation, how aught we more transparently converse with un-like-minded scholars, “speaking the truth in love”? Third, in an age of increasing specialization, how might we improve our conversations among ourselves, as like-minded scholars, so as to achieve more thoroughly grounded syntheses?

Key Words: accommodation, biblical scholarship, historical method, history and theology, methods and metaphysics, modernism/postmodernism, minimalism/maximalism, skepticism, specialization, theism/a-theism

It is an awesome privilege to have an opportunity to address my colleagues in the IBR, and I thank the committee for inviting me. The invitation did not include a suggested topic, however, and so my first task was to cast around for what might prove most helpful on such an occasion. I considered the possibility of offering a technical paper on one of the areas of OT studies that has been occupying my attention of late—perhaps something relating to the interplay of literary and historical studies,1 or the reliability of biblical reports,2 or current

debates surrounding the emergence of Israel in Canaan, or the United Monarchy,3 and so forth. I have heard some wonderful technical papers at IBR and, depending on my own nearness to the discipline in view, I have found them stimulating and instructive. In the end, however, I have chosen to lift off from my customary small section of the field and fly over a larger landscape, despite the risks (of which I am not unaware) of being “shot out of the air.” I wish to address some broader issues, in part because I believe that they may be of general interest to the larger body gathered here, but also because they are issues with which I find myself wrestling from time to time, and I suspect that I may not be alone. Let me say at the outset that I am not fully satisfied with my current thoughts on the issues I shall raise, but my hope is that my comments may at least spark (or further) ...

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