Field Notes: New Unit in the Society of Bibical Literature to Debut in Chicago – “Metacriticism in Biblical Scholarship”

Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship, a new unit in the Society of Biblical Literature, will debut at the 2012 annual meeting in Chicago. The unit critically evaluates suppositions in and underlying biblical scholarship, including how an explicitly non-religious approach differs from what is even now represented as historical-critical scholarship, especially when compared to other secular disciplines within the humanities (history, classical studies) and the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology).

The idea for the new unit crystallized out of concerns for the pervasive theological orientation of many units in the Society of Biblical Literature. A meeting was held in New Orleans in 2009, which included Hector Avalos, Jim Linville, and Zeba Crook, who are part of the current steering committee. Other committee members are William Arnal, Randall Reed, and Rebecca Raphael. Hector Avalos of Iowa State University is the chair of the steering committee for this unit.

The unit made a formal proposal to the SBL in 2010 with the title of “Secular Biblical Criticism Consultation.” But it was not until this year that it was approved and given its current name.

The new unit will offer the following two sessions in Chicago:

Frauds, Pious Frauds and Biblical Origins

11/17/2012, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM, Room: N129 – McCormick Place

Presiding, Stephanie Louise Fisher, University of Nottingham

Jim Linville, University of Lethbridge, “The Royal Scam: Josiah, Joseph Smith and Believing one’s own Pious Fraud”

K. L. Noll, Brandon University, “A Portrait of the Deuteronomistic Historian at Work? How Theology Invents the History of the Bible”

Robert Price, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, “Pious Fraud and Imposture in the New Testament”

Rene Salm, University of Oregon, “The Archaeology of Nazareth: A History of Pious Fraud?”

Respondent: Diana Edelman, University of Sheffield

Histories of the Religion of Israel (Joint Session With Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship, Ideological Criticism)

11/18/2012, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM, Room: S104a – McCormick Place

Presiding, Willi Braun, University of Alberta

K. L. Noll, Brandon University, “Inventing Yahwism: The History of Israelite Religions and the Religion of a Historical Israel”

Jim Linville, University of Lethbridge, “On the Religion of Bronze Age Goat-Herders. Ancient Israel as a secularist’s foil”

T.L. Thompson, University of Copenhagen, “A Biblical Critique of Religion and the Figure of Yahweh in the Pentateuch”

Respondent: Mark Smith, New York University

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For more information, please contact Hector Avalos (HectorAvalos@aol.com) chair of the Metacriticism and Biblical Scholarship Consultation.

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