Taylor Weaver on “What makes a good Biblical Scholar or Theologian?”

My most salient advice for biblical scholars and theologians is:

be aware of the diversity of your discipline, and work hard toward inculcating permeable boundaries for the disciplinary city. Those marginal spaces in the discipline are essential for the future of biblical studies and/or theology.

We all note the importance of historical-critical work in all of its variation. But a survey of some authors points to the importance of a range of thinkers for biblical studies. From the haunting spectres of Derrida and Marx (whose importance ebbs and flows), to approaches refined by Lefebvre, Deleuze, and Agamben, we see the boundaries breached. And for good reason.

See for instance, Laura Nasrallah’s or Halvor Moxnes’s work on spatial studies to note how diverse methods and disciplines intermix. Or, for a recent example, David Horrell’s incisive use of whiteness studies to interrogate NT studies. Or perhaps Cavan Concannon’s invocations of Deleuze. These examples, from scholars who have produced wonderful, incisive works in biblical studies, remind us that our disciplines miss out when we champion purity. It falls into auto-immmunity; the discipline atrophies.

If I have one bit of advice, then, it distills down to this.

Remember where you came from, accept the past of the discipline, and search out the marginal spaces.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to experiment with diverse methodologies. Master the relevant literature, and then see if you can test out new, viable futures.

Taylor WeaverTaylor Weaver is a PhD student at University of Kent (submitted, awaiting viva), specialising in New Testament and critical theory. He is a sessional lecturer at St Mary’s Univeristy, Twickenham, and blogs at https://taylormweaver.wordpress.com/.

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