Democratizing Biblical Studies – Should it be done?

In this week’s Review of Biblical Literature, there is a review for a book which sounds very interesting.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
Democratizing Biblical Studies: Toward an Emancipatory Educational Space
Reviewed by Daniel Smith-Christopher

From Amazon:

In this book, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza continues her exploration of a radical democratic ethos in graduate biblical education. She argues that it is necessary to reframe the field of biblical studies and replace the competitive teaching models prevalent in graduate programs with an emancipatory, radical democratic pedagogical model that fosters collaboration, participation, and critical engagement. To achieve constructive engagement with the differences of social location and diversity of perspectives that exist both in the Bible and in our contexts, we must become aware of the pitfalls of one-dimensional thinking that seeks to use the Bible to find definite answers and to exclude different understandings. Schüssler Fiorenza addresses such questions as, What are the educational practices and procedures that are advocated by traditional educational models and how can they be changed? What kind of educational and communicative practices do biblical studies need to develop in order to fashion an emancipatory democratizing rhetorical space and a forum of many voices? To envision, articulate, debate, and practice a radical democratic ethos of biblical studies, she identifies emerging didactic models that can foster such a radical democratic style of learning.

The review quotes Fiorenza,

“This book continues my arguments in The Power of the Word that biblical scholarship has to become publicly accountable and to articulate biblical knowledge that sustains rather than undermines a radical democratic ethos”

While her work may be uneasy to digest for some, I believe that she is – at least according to the review – is heading in the direction that others, such has Jim West, is heading and she goes way past that. It is a solid review and I will be adding that book to my wishlist.

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