Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Madness in the Method?

Todd Penner concludes his survey of recent scholarship on Acts with some comments about the "chaotic and unstructured nature of current method in the field," which he feels is due in large measure to the competing "theological and ideological commitments of scholars":
It is, in the end, questionable whether engaged scholarly dialogue across a variety of models, approaches and historical commitments can in fact take place. Can, for instance, a humanist scholar, someone who is deeply committed to examining a text like Acts solely for what it reveals about human processes and products, good and evil, really have dialogue with...a scholar driven by theological agendas, who seeks to raise issues beyond the merely human, in order to catch a glimpse of the revealed nature of the divine in the text? . . . We may in the end do better, go further, and learn more by engaging the meta-narratives and meta-frameworks that are operative for individual scholars. - "Madness in the Method? The Acts of the Apostles in Current Study," Currents in Biblical Research 2, no. 2 (2004): 223-293.
So we can't talk about the text anymore, but at least we have each other. Fun, fun.

It is because of scholars like Penner and Arnal (see the previous post) that Markus Bockmuehl's proposal in Seeing the Word to invite secular and confessional scholars into conversation about the theologies of ancient texts seems hopelessly idealistic.

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