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Sunday, October 18, 2009

News Flash!!

I have two important news items to share with my blog readers today:

1) Hector Avalos (Ph.D., Harvard), John Loftus (Th.M., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), James Linville (Ph.D, University of Edinburgh) and I today announce that we intend to start a new society which will meet annually in the same city and at the same time as the annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), and The Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS). We three men, along with some other interested parties, will have an exploratory meeting on November 20th this year in New Orleans (6:30pm at the Marriott Hotel) to organize the Society. While the name for the new society has not yet been decided, the three main goals will be:

a. Promote scholarship of the Bible from a non-religious viewpoint.

b. Produce scholarly critiques of religionist biblical scholarship, and how it functions to maintain the authority and value of the Bible in the modern world.

c. Form a counterweight to the Evangelical Theological Society, and perhaps engage in cordial dialogue and debate with its members through written formats and through joint sessions.

2) I will be will be on 97.1 FM Talk Radio in St. Louis on Monday October 26th at 6:20pm Eastern time. I will be part of a program discussing the existence of God. The other two participants will be, Father Jeff Vomund and Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald. The discussion will last until 7pm Eastern. You can listen live at their website. They will also have the mp3 recording of the discussion on their website the next day.

I am excited about both of these news items. The Society proposed above will attract some top notch scholars and will prove to be a valuable anti-dote to the dogmas of evangelical theology. The talk program will be my first venture into this format. I will have to contain myself to short sound bites as the format will not allow for any kind of in-depth discussion. Hopefully, though, it will prove thought provoking for the listeners.


  1. Sweet !! Can't imagine a more excellent crew.
    It would be nice if Luke, over at Common Sense Atheism, couldn't join ! If nothing else, how about throwing Luke up on a laptop at your meeting table for a virtual presence.

  2. Sabio, He was invited to the meeting as well as many other leaders. Dr. Avalos has been part of SBL for years and knows many scholars who are "fed up" with the religious overtones at the SBL. This may wind up being quite a large group that we form.

  3. Ken,
    Hello from Lethbridge. Thanks for posting about the secular bible crew.

    A friend and I made a "Secular Bible Blog" badge. You can get it if you want at my blog, Dr. Jim's Thinking Shop.

    Jim Linville

  4. Truly wonderful idea, Ken and all! It is something sorely needed. Having read extensively on Christian origins beyond my formal theological education, as well as some in related fields, I have one strong recommendation: deliberately seek out and cultivate interest from scholars who are interdisciplinary in their perspective, or who are specialists in pertinent fields and have special interest/background in biblical studies and/or history and philosophy of religion.

    Example from the first category would be Burton Mack, and the other, Jonathan Z Smith (compatriot w/ Mack), Rodney Stark (sociology/history), Hyam Maccoby (Judaism/NT), Harold Bloom (literary criticism/biblical studies), anthropologists (maybe Clifford Geertz?), mythologists (maybe William Henry, who has theological background); another person with strong archeological "creds" would be L. Michael White. I imagine there are lots of archeologists in the SBL and related groups, tho many have theological biases, and White appears not to, along with probably several others. And don't forget to try to include a few female (not necessarily "feminist", but could be) scholars.

    The major point is that biblical studies, at a deep and truly helpful academic level, MUST become more interdisciplinary... and the mere process of emphasizing that quickly broadens the agenda to matters that are "verbotten" among Evangelicals generally, and challenge their presuppositions.

    Howard Pepper

  5. Jim,

    Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to meeting you in New Orleans in November.


  6. Howie,

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions. I agree that inter-disciplinary expertise is essential. I think its good that in Loftus' new book, he has assembled scholars from a variety of fields to write articles. No one person can be expert in everything.