The legitimacy of faith-based scholarship in the forum of academic scholarship

I just came across Michael V. Fox’s article: “Bible Scholarship and Faith-Based Study: My View.”  His essay is an interesting read because it provides insight to how one academic scholar views the endeavors of those of us who hold to such faith-based presuppositions as divine revelation.  According to Fox, such “faith-based study has no place in academic scholarship, whether the object of study is the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or Homer. Faith-based study is a different realm of intellectual activity that can dip into Bible scholarship for its own purposes, but cannot contribute to it.” One wonders why accepting the Bible as it is written excludes one from contributing to various biblical fields, but reading against the Bible’s grain (such as denying divine revelation) makes one an academic scholar.

Not only do faith-based scholar have nothing to contribute to Bible scholarship, but according to Fox most are not worth reading : “Trained scholars quickly learn to recognize which authors and publications are governed by faith and tend to set them aside, not out of prejudice but out of an awareness that they are irrelevant to the scholarly enterprise. Sometimes it is worthwhile to go through a faith-motivated publication and pick out the wheat from the chaff, but time is limited.” While preparing my dissertation in the Song of Songs, I took the time to weed through the studies of critical, feminist, ancient, post modern, Jewish, academic, literary, and faith- based scholars.  I read scholars who wrote from a gay perspective and I even consulted Fox’s own work on the Song.  And although the harvest was sometimes nothing more than a head of grain, I did appreciate their contributions.  I wish that faith-based scholars would be afforded the same consideration.  There is much more wheat to be gleaned from the field of faith-based scholarship than Fox expects.

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Creating a Torah Scroll

One of our PhD students gave me a link to an interesting website concerning the making of a modern Torah scroll.  There is a video and news article from The Dallas Morning News which explains the making of the scroll.  According to the article it will take Rabbi Bloomenstiel 18 months to complete the entire Torah.  Those who are interested may sponsor a day of the sofer’s writing for $180.00!  Reporter Scott Farwell writes that a scroll would cost a congregation between $25,000 and $75,000!

PhD Students and Publishing

For those PhD students interested in publishing their dissertations, Nijay Gupta is hosting some interviews (here) with those who have published their dissertations in various monograph series.  For those who desire to publish but are clueless to the process, these interviews are a helpful starting place. 

For a good book on scholarly publishing see Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books, by William Germano. Published by The University of Chicago,  second edition,  2008. This book is not only informative but a joy to read as well.