The ‘elephant’, the ‘maverick’, and the ‘penguin’, or why historical critics can so easily ignore postmodern critiques! Presented to ‘The Biblical World and Its Reception’ seminar, European Association of Biblical Studies, Tartu, Estonia

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper

Abstract

In a recent article (“An Elephant in the Room: Historical-Critical and Postmodern Interpretations of the Bible”, JBL 128 [2009] 383-404), G. Aichele, P. Miscall, and R. Walsh have argued that those working within the discipline of Biblical Studies have become accustomed to stepping carefully around what Aichele et al call “the elephant in the room”, the largely unacknowledged gap that exists between historical readings and postmodern readings of the Bible. It is time, they write, for us to discuss said ‘elephant’, and they conclude by calling for open dialogue on the matter. Immediate (online) responses so far, however, seem to further inscribe the mutual misunderstandings which support the division that they identify, rather than doing anything useful to overcome it. In this paper, the abiding historical-critical desire to identify and account for the intention(s) of a particular historically-located individual—John Marco Allegro—and the meaning(s) of his actions and words in context is confronted with the post-modern acknowledgement of the fragmentary nature of both historical-critical techniques and the documentary evidence that are available to the investigator. What follows is intended (irony unintended) to be a partial, but illuminating narrative of one researcher’s doomed, yet successful attempt to provide a convincing account of a single historical individual.
Translated title of the contributionThe ‘elephant’, the ‘maverick’, and the ‘penguin’, or why historical critics can so easily ignore postmodern critiques!
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Conference Organiser: SBL/EABS

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