Thinking about the epistemological differences between post-conservatives and post-liberals, the current stir caused by Ron Hendel (with the response by SBL) seems to me to be the clash between modernism and post-modernism.  Not that I want to drink the cool aid of postmodernism, but it does promote a plurality of avenues for engaging the biblical texts, which SBL appears not to be afraid of.  It appears to me that many in the field of biblical studies generally holdon to modernist epistemological categories (more than others?), and thus some like Hendel associate ‘critical’ with only with historical-critical methods.  Based on the anecdotal evidence, there may be some areas for improvement, but what is ironic is that some of the ‘fundamentalist’ groups that Hendel critiques are often some of Hendel’s closest allies in the modernist camp with a strong focus on historical-grammatical exegesis.  I’m happy to have a conference that has room for a variety of views.  We all avoid sessions that are uninteresting or have different methodological bases than those we might employ.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be allowed.

As to one point of evidence, I don’t see how the split with AAR is evidence for Hendel’s case.  AAR as a theological organization primarily, I think, allows the interaction of those from different faith perspectives.  If anything they appear to me to be more open to the postmodern eclecticism that Hendel appears to be wary of.

In all I think it has spawned a healthy debate.  I’m glad for SBL to sponsor the comments page.  I especially liked Jason Hood’s #27.

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