I deliberately chose not to enter the fray some months ago when Michael Fox of the University of Wisconsin, Madison wrote his jeremiad against “faith-based study” of the Bible, an open letter to all members of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). Only secular approaches and methods are to be allowed.
Apart from astonishment at the sheer quantity of problems with his position, my main reaction at the time, and even more so after reading the catalog of sections and papers for the SBL meeting that starts in a week, is this: if people and papers dealing with the text from a particular religious or ideological perspective are banned from SBL, there will no longer be an SBL.
Theological, feminist, postcolonial, queer, political, etc.; these are the adjectives du jour. This is not inappropriate, nor does it mean that biblical scholarship has given up on archaeology, history, literature, etc. But these things are no longer ends in themselves for most of us. This is not your parents’ SBL. Though it might be your grandparents’.