The Seriousness of Scripture Belongs to the Academic

In the dust up regarding Dr. Rollston’s article (see a good listing of the posts here) the issue of who takes Scripture seriously has been raised, namely by Blowers and those (such as Roger Pearse and Tee-Tee) support him. Pearse has suggested that Rollston is the one not taking Scripture seriously. This is a common charge from “conservatives” such as those who believe in Young Earth Creationism and a host of other imposed -isms; however, is this really true?

Let me propose that it is the Academic who takes Scripture more seriously. I can say that because the Academic is the one who takes the author and the audience seriously. The Academic looks to the origin of the text in the social situation, of a specific time and place. The Academic is equally the one who raises concerns when contradictions, or less than admirable traits in said texts. These contradictions and traits become part of how the Academic treats Scripture. A blind eye is not turned, but all of the faultiness of the text is embraced. One may find this a license to discount the lay reader of Scripture. Not so fast. Instead, the lay reader should, even without academic training, find themselves open to embracing the errors in the text. The Academic is a critical reader; a critical reader takes Scripture seriously. If one approaches Scripture with an uncritical eye, then the text becomes sullenly humorous.

When Dr. Rollston suggested that many texts, the more so in the Old Testament, marginalized women, he approached Scripture in a serious nature, with a critical eye. He went to Scripture, discovered the importance it still holds, and discussed it. To hide the critical approach to Scripture, to suggest that it is a high crime or other type of misdemeanor, is to take Scripture just just less than serious, but in such a way as one would take a comic book or other pulp fiction alternative.

Approach Scripture with the critical eye, if you want to actually take it seriously.

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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