And some United Methodists?

Here’s the background I need to get to post this quote below. Sewanee Uniiversity gave N.T. Wright an honor. A professor wrote that Wright did not deserve to be treated as a serious biblical scholar. Internet hilarity ensued.

And then this piece was written that included this great bit:

Well, Wright is an Anglican and one thing about us Anglicans is that we regard Scripture as sufficient and supreme in the life of the church. In fact, I would point out that the majority of people engaged in biblical studies do so out of a deep reverence and high regard for Scripture as providing authoritative direction for the Christian faith. It is only unbelievers and perhaps some Episcopalians who  are dumbfounded as to why anyone would regard the Bible as somehow normative for their beliefs and ethics.

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5 thoughts on “And some United Methodists?

  1. So, the professor is not wrong about the nature of the work of the academy, and that what Wright does is not in line with the kind of work the academy typically does in biblical studies.

    N.T. Wright is many good things, and his theological work is often helpful and insightful.

    What Wright writes about the Bible, however, is more in the vein of commentary for the church, not scholarship in the Bible. He doesn’t engage in original or peer-reviewed research. We might say he writes more “opinion pieces” than “hard news.” This is not to demean what he produces, but rather to try to characterize it accurately. The church needs both, and both have value.

    As I read the critique offered by the professor at Sewanee, I think that’s his point. Yes, he doesn’t like Wright for any number of reasons, but he likes less that his institution awarded him as a biblical scholar when, in point of fact, this is not the kind of work that N.T. Wright actually produces.

  2. It is an honorary degree. Would a political science professor be justified in protesting that Nelson Mandela was given an honorary degree even though he had not been published in a peer-reviewed journal?

  3. I think that would depend on what the honorary degree was for and how it was framed. If the doctorate were offered for Mandela’s contribution to the academic field of statistical political theory, for example, then yes, there would be reason to be a bit concerned about the appropriateness of the award. Mandela was a great politician, and even a decent political philosopher in his context (he wrote a lot while in prison!), but he was never formally trained nor practiced in the field of statistical political theory.

  4. Taylor Burton-Edwards comes off less than charitable in offering this sop to N.T. Wright. He seized his moment to sling a sop when he read a Meunier blog post. What I don’t get is why he chose to pounce on Tom Wright’s reputation from the shadows? I guess y’all needed to be enlightened…or maybe “straightened out”?

  5. I’m curious where you get that N.T. Wright isn’t published in peer-reviewed journals, Taylor, or that it would be justified to say that NT Wright isn’t a “biblical scholar.” Just from the Wikipedia page about him, he has been awarded the Burkitt Medal by the British Academy “in recognition of special service to biblical studies.” And just in my own seminary’s online catalog, I count 36 different peer-reviewed articles authored by the retired Bishop of Durham, including articles in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, the Journal of Biblical Literature and the Irish Theological Quarterly.

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