Baker Academic

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What People Really Think of Biblical Scholars

A couple days ago I wrote about the problem of domesticated camels (or lack thereof) in Israel prior to 900 BCE. It was pointed out to me by a very learned fellow that the issue of domesticated camels is less relevant that it might seem. He writes:
...when you look at the Genesis narratives, you'll see that camels are usually mentioned in the context of the patriarchs accumulating wealth, or as gifts from the Pharaoh. They are not beasts of burden so much as prizes, or things that princesses (like Sarah) ride. There is also some textual evidence that some areas do in fact have camels, though not Israel, and some scholars think they were the prized items that only the wealthy owned. I think I got this all from the ABD. This letter to the editor basically says the same thing, by Millard, an ANE prof in England.
As I mentioned before, I have no desire to defend an early or "traditional" dating program for the patriarchal narratives. I'm also not in favor of creating controversy where there is none.

What I found more interesting (sent to me by the same friend) is one of the comments to Prof. Millard's letter (linked above). It has since been removed from the Telegraph's webpage, but here is a screenshot:

It seems that "oldgit13" is having a go at us Bible folk. He is "struggling to think of a more pointless qualification and occupation." Notice also that seven folks like this comment while only one doesn't.

So there you have it! Seven out of eight people agree: biblical scholarship is pointless.

On the bright side, we're universally appreciated by religious folk, esteemed highly by our university colleagues, and make obscene amounts of money.



  1. And biblical scholarship should aim to be more useless! As Zizek says, scholarship which is conducted for any end of social use - as is the trend in profit-oriented universities throughout the world - "is not thinking". Sheer pointlessness is the path to benefits that are not now even recognised as such. Be useless!

  2. I guess you can't please everybody.