Academic Bible Scholars Turn against Religion

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

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria