The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, April 16, 2017

That's an F

On Biblical Archaelogy Review, Ronald Hendel from Berkeley has posted an opinion, "Biblical Scholarship at Risk", for the May issue. In the meantime he has uploaded the editor's draught to academia.edu. It develops his comments at Daily Californian.

The rebuttal is to "Turning Point USA", a soi-disant Student Movement for Free Markets and Limited Government. They'd put Hendel on their Professor Watchlist. That entry develops the College Fix. It names the student who has made a national case out of the role of impartial scholarship in academe: David Kurz. You wanted it, you got it...

To get some stuff out of the way: I have sympathy for students shut out of classroom discussions in which their professor has gone rogue. I defended Marshall Polston, for instance.

As for Dr Hendel, I concede he does write like he lacks sympathy for American conservatives at large, and not just "fundamentalists". His article pretends to fear patriotic defenders of ignorance in a dawning era of right-wing political correctness. You don't say this stuff if you think conservatives have a point elsewhere, like on... free markets and limited government; you especially don't sneer at "patriots" (and do I detect an old-school jibe at Morning In America?). You also don't say this stuff if you ever opposed political correctness from the Left. You say this stuff if you've picked your side and as for everyone else, they're not your friends. Based on that, it is fully in character for the man to say the words David Kurz transcribed:

Don’t take this class if you believe the Bible is inspired or infallible. This stuff isn’t taught in synagogues or churches because they don’t want to piss people off. … Anyone can take this class, as long as you play by the rules of the game. … If you disagree with the approach we use, that’s an F.
[Q. There's a correct answer?] Correct. [Q. Evidence that Moses did write the vast majority of the Pentateuch?] “That doesn’t exist. [Q. It does!] I don’t want people who are going to disagree with me all semester. [Q. Debates?] Not in this classroom.

(UPDATE 5:30 PM - Hendel sends a response.)

As an aside, I admit I emitted a laugh at BAR's newfound care for Biblical scholarship. Back when anti-Israel ideologues were citing the minimalists, the minimalists were the enemy. But when that scholarship goes against Christians, it's all about the Sanctity Of The Classroom. Whatever, dudes.

Still, pace the College Fix and David Kurz ... they're wrong. Hendel is correct that the evidence, internal and external, points strongly against Moses' authorship of the Torah. The rival Documentary Hypothesis, to which Hendel subscribes, does have its problems; but a newbie coming into the class for the first time isn't going to have the tools to take it down. Especially if he knows no Hebrew and hasn't seen the Septuagint, the Samaritan Torah, or the Dead Sea Scrolls. Just piping back "no it isn't" isn't an argument.

The rules of the game at this point in a student's career are to sit down, shut up, take notes, and learn. Those rules are fair, and necessary for any teaching to take place. If the student doesn't have that humility, he is destined for ignorance all his life. All that, and the Blutarsky on his college record.


posted by Zimri on 08:26 | link | 0 comments

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