The Crossley/Hurtado Conversation on Biblical Studies
Several weeks ago, I learned from a former PhD student that Professor James Crossley (University of Sheffield) had made me the partner in what he called a “debate” involving the nature of NT Studies/Biblical Studies, holding forth on the matter in a large essay in the online journal, Relegere. This is an open-access and refereed journal (very commendable!), and his essay, entitled “An Immodest Proposal for Biblical Studies,” can be accessed here. Crossley cites my blog-postings from September 2011 on the importance of Greek (and at least major languages of NT scholarship) among the competences that we should expect of those who wish to be NT scholars as an impetus for his essay. My postings (which generated a good deal of comment on this blog-site and others, some of it inexcusably ad hominem) are here, here, here, and here.
After reading his essay, acting on the view that a debate is always better if both parties know it’s going on, I contacted Crossley, suggesting that it might have been wise to have let me know about it, perhaps even by sending the draft of his essay for comment before publication. (Indeed, early in my own career I made it a practice that, whenever I engaged somebody’s work in any sustained way, I’d invite him/her to comment on what I wrote before I published it. But that’s just my own thinking, not Torah.) Had he done so, I might have been able to prevent what I think are one or two mis-understandings of my own views on what kind of competence we should expect of those who wish to be NT scholars, and a couple of related matters.
Crossley responded cordially, suggesting that I contact the editors of Relegere offering a response. I did so, and the editors kindly agreed. My response, entitled “On Diversity, Competence and Coherence in New Testament Studies: A Modest Response to Crossley’s ‘Immodest Proposal’,” has just appeared, and can be accessed here.
In my response, I aim to correct the references to my stance in Crossley’s essay (and the inferences and implications he posits), and I also engage the substantive issues raised in it. These include what “international” means when it comes to NT studies, whether there is a discipline and if so what is its core, the value of “reception-history” studies, and how Biblical Studies might best contribute to the larger academic life of universities (and thereby also justify its existence).
In addition to thanking the editors of Relegere for granting me the opportunity to publish the response-essay, I’m also grateful to Crossley for agreeing to read the draft version and giving me some feedback (including at least one correction) before it went to publication.
(And, having myself been involved in promoting refereed online journals, I congratulate all those associated with Relegere, which I hope will flourish and help point the way for more such outlets for scholarship in the 21st century.)