Thursday, April 7, 2016

SOTS at 100 years

Next year the Society for Old Testament Study is 100 years old. Two papers by David Clines were recently posted on Academia, both very clearly written, The Bible and the Academy, a short exploration of passion vs dispassion, and A Century of SOTS, one that is easy to scan quickly for impressions of the subject matter of this society over the last century.

One item he mentions that came up in discussion yesterday is the measure of Impact of scholarship.
What about the REF and the impact of our subject? The Research Excellence Framework, which will replace the RAE [Research Assessment Exercise] in 2013, has signalled that one of the three elements that 'together reflect the key characteristics of research excellence' is 'impact'. Impact is described as 'where researchers build on excellent research to deliver demonstrable benefits to the economy, society, public policy, culture and quality of life'.
What is the impact of the last 300 years of critical study of the Bible? Has it been to reinforce the ignorance or rather to create the ignorance out of the fear of the less educated? Did Biblical criticism produce the phenomenon of Donald Trump?

I am also reading a little social criticism from Rowan Williams (my wife borrowed the latest Wallander mystery!). The book is Lost Icons. Williams in the first chapter suggests that we do not know how to play games and that games are an essential part of learning good decision-making in an environment where some of the social rules are suspended in a suitably controlled manner.

What game is afoot now?

(For the record, I am not a member of SOTS).