Academic Bible Scholars Turn against Religion

March 3 2023

For a long time, the field of biblical studies in Western universities sought to be open equally to believers and nonbelievers. At least in the U.S., something has changed, writes Joshua Heavin:

The Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion are the two most prestigious and influential academic societies for the scholarly study of the Bible and religious studies in North America. On January 12, the leadership councils for both societies contacted their members to explain why the 2023 annual meeting will still take place in San Antonio, despite concerns “about the politics and policies of the state of Texas,” including abortion policies in the wake of Dobbs. The councils indicated that contractual obligations to hold the 2023 meeting in San Antonio had been entered into “almost a decade ago, before the laws were passed that are concerning to many of us,” and that relocating the meeting would be costly.

Such a statement from SBL’s leadership council was likely intended both to pacify the most progressive members of the academic society, and to alienate members with pro-life values, such as myself, let alone conservative Texans. In the moral imagination of this letter, pro-life men and women, or municipalities and states that protect the dignity of unborn human beings, are “inhospitable” to the Society’s values.

An alternative course might be to recognize that we are better off together, that scholarly research is enriched, rather than impoverished, by tolerating not only progressive perspectives at meetings held in progressive strongholds, but also those of people such as myself, a self-consciously traditional Christian, a theological interpreter of the Bible, and an evangelical Anglican at that, who values unborn life. Perhaps we might even share Texan food with one another at a Texan table. We might rediscover that hospitality, speaking the truth in love with one another, fosters a better academic society.

Read more at First Things

More about: Biblical scholarship, Christianity, Hebrew Bible

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship