Roland Boer’s Scurrilous Display of the most Vulgar Marxism on Bible & Interpretation Tears Apart the Foibles of Biblical Scholarship. This could be the beginning of a new method of interpreting the biblical text.

The problem illustrated:

If what I write could help in any way towards the establishment of justice and peace there [in Israel and Palestine], or indeed anywhere else, I would be deeply grateful.

– N.T. (“Tom”) Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (London: The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1996), p. xv.

A recent rejoinder:

To the best of my knowledge, Wright’s book on the historical Jesus has not yet had any impact on the Middle East peace process or indeed any other conflict.

– James Crossley, Jesus in an Age of Terror: Scholarly Projects for a New American Century (London: Equinox, 2008), p. 179.

The full-frontal assault by Roland Boer, in “The Unbearable Idealism of Biblical Scholarship” Bible and Interpretation, May 2011:

The problem is that idealism seems such a natural position, especially for intellectuals like biblical scholars. Indeed, biblical scholars are by default idealists. Why? We work with texts and opinions and arguments all the time. We read, teach, write, speak, and persuade. We have been trained long and hard to believe that what we think and say and write will change people, or at least change the accepted opinion concerning the understanding of a text. We hold that the interpretation, say, of Aaron’s rod, or of the daughters of Zelophehad, or of Elisha’s floating axe, or of Ezekiel’s smelly loin-cloth, or of Paul’s remarkable ability to resist snakebite, or whether Paul communed in the seventh heaven with Philo or the Stoics, or of the advisability of a little wine with our dinner, is absolutely vital…. We also like to think that we are far more important than we really are. And the only way we can kid ourselves concerning our self-importance is to project our default idealism on the rest of the world. Our ideas do matter, we like to think, and the world had better take notice – just as long as we do not actually need to go down to the street from our comfortable offices and get dirty. After all, when was the last time a troop of biblical scholars seized power in a revolution? Does anyone recall when the program committee at the SBL was last arrested en masse for civil disobedience? And when did the SBL last attempt to establish an alternative economy?

Quite right. Read it all here.


4 thoughts on “Roland Boer’s Scurrilous Display of the most Vulgar Marxism on Bible & Interpretation Tears Apart the Foibles of Biblical Scholarship. This could be the beginning of a new method of interpreting the biblical text.

  1. The problem is that biblical ‘scholarship’ has had an impact on society. You can easily trace the ebb and flow of consensus within the ‘academy’ on children’s Bibles (for instance). The consensus isn’t always acceptable for those of us from what Boer calls the ‘worldly left’.

    This is but one insidious example, there are plenty more explicit ones – the curse of Ham being regularly trawled out.

    What I see is that it is the left that have failed in having the impact, with the conservative PR machine being far more effective.


    • Yeah, I agree. But just so I understand you, how do your comments relate to Roland Boer’s view? That is, are you agreeing, illustrating, demonstrating, or demonstrating by exception, or disagreeing in whole or in part?


  2. Tyrone,

    Again, why all of us toiling away in the university need to admit, and indeed embrace, our patent uselessness.

    To steal a great line from Terry Eagleton: ‘sheer pointlessness is a deeply subversive affair’.



    • Is there the beginnings of a class consciousness here? We’re not realizing that our exploitation is integral to the system, but that we could all be raptured and the world would go on just fine without us?


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