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"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, con
cerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it ...." I John 1:1-2 (RSV)

"After his resurrection the disciples saw the living Christ, whom they knew to have died, with the eyes of faith (oculata fide)." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, 55, 2 ad 1, as quoted in D. M. Stanley, Jesus in Gethsemane (New York, Paulist Press 1980).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bible Scholar of the Future

If you have dreams of becoming a Bible scholar, Ben Witherington's book, Is There a Doctor in the House?:  An Insider's Story and Advice on becoming a Bible Scholar (Zondervan 2011),  may talk you out of it.  To be proficient,  you better know French and German, in addition to Hebrew and Greek.         You must have a love for history and archaeology, ancient religions and the history of literature and literary theory.   I knew students when I was in college who had the passion for this tremendous field of study, and  were ready to deal with all of these obstacles which I now see listed listed by Ben.    They went on to get Ph.D.'s and they did find work at universities.   But that was 35 years ago.   What about now?   Now, how do you support yourself as a Bible scholar?  New grads are feeling like most teaching jobs have dried up, unless you want to work for $3,000.00 a year as an adjunct.  Well, I hope it's not that bad.

I'm a lawyer, and I am grateful for my work. But  like most lawyers I know I have told my children to avoid the  law business as well.  Out of six children one has become a lawyer, and I am proud of that.  But no more!    There are too few openings for the people coming out of the law schools.   And we see that in other professions requiring graduate degrees  as well, especially with these jobs in academia.  The job market has always been tight for people coming out of "liberal arts" grad school programs, but now it appears forbidding.   We parents of the Gen Y's tell our children to become nurses and engineers.    Jacques Ellul's,  The Technological Society (Knopf trans. 1964) marches forward.  We are cutting out wonder, passion and the poetry of life from career choices.

My solution for those who will swim upstream and go after this honorable  career choice of Bible scholar? I have no solution, other than to say that young people should  think long and hard about it, as Ben Witherington describes in his book.    But one approach for those who are "called"  might be:  To keep the cost down,  attend a public university such as the University of Wisconsin - Madison which still has a strong classics program offering respected Ph.D's.  Live in community, like monks in a monastery. I don't know of any such lay communities here in Wisconsin, but I predict that we will see them.  I've got faith in the human spirit.  We will see young people make these kinds of sacrifices to become Bible scholars.  If the technological society (meaning The Brave New World where technology is all that matters) represents the cultural  gates of hell, the Bible scholar heroes of the future will be among those making sure that these evil forces will not prevail.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bloggers Not Blogging

Bible bloggers are not doing much blogging lately.  With the Middle East in flames and with the genocide of Christians in Iraq and Syria people feel  that  reflections on Scripture are a luxury.   We all want to enlist in the military and restore peace to the Holy Land, and bring the surviving  Christians back to their homes.  We all want to help.  I will give money to the Knights of Columbus for their work helping the persecuted Christians, and the desperate Yazidis.   The Knights will make sure the donations go where they should go.    I'm not sure what else I can do.  We are all trying to figure that out.

Well, I'm going to keep blogging. The Apostle Paul found time to write in a war torn world. The priests exiled to  Babylon wrote much of what we call the OT in the middle of their wars and persecutions.  There is nothing wrong with the Jesuit idea of contemplation in action.  Blogging is contemplation.