Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bibliobloggers, James Tabor and the Jesus Tomb

I have already posted my reaction to the flurry of activity in response to the announcement by James Tabor et al that they had uncovered the earliest known Christian burial sites.  This is 'red meat' for Bibliobloggers.  Everyone suddenly sees a spike in visitors to their blog as everyday people decide to take an interest in things from two thousand years ago.  The Bibilobloggers of course each want to outdo the other in terms of attacking Tabor for daring to posit such an absurd hypothesis.  Nevertheless the Biblioblogging community paradoxically seems just as disingenuous - like a bunch of attorneys at a thirty car pile up on the interstate highway or CNN during the latest celebrity overdose.

'It's an outrage!' 'This behavior has to stop!' But let's face it, this is the kind of thing that makes most of these useless blogs relevant.  They need someone like Tabor to allow each of these impotent armchair critics to outdo the other in terms their 'seriousness,' their 'critical eye' and most significant of all to allow them to interact with other members of this misanthropic community through the sport of shared cruelty.

As I said in my previous post, I do not believe that this is a Christian burial site.  I also see why the large financial investment made at the outset by Discovery Channel likely led to the need to sensationalize the results. This is by no means an academic discovery - it is an attempt to sell seats at the circus.  Nevertheless, we should all hope that Discovery Channel sells out every night for their short lived tour.

Science will in the end prove or disprove the claims of Tabor and company.  Yet the lasting legacy of having Discovery Channel involved in Biblical research can only help the study of religion.  If the program proves to be a success they and their competitors (Nat Geo, BBC etc) will provide capital to other discoveries and some of these will indeed pan out to be major discoveries.  We should learn a thing or too from the American capitalist model and encourage an environment of scholarly innovation rather than the stagnant world desired by the emasculated Biblioblogger, one in which we engage in endless 'debates' about old ideas.

As I noted, if Tabor's claims are - to use the language of the street - 'full of shit' the free market of ideas will eventually expose them.  Where as the Biblioblog community - likely driven by jealousy than any real concern for the truth - would seek to prevent any investment in any ideas beyond the impotent notions of the past.  I think we should encourage rather than discourage the Discovery investment.  If its full of shit, the smell will give it away to real scholarship, rather than Bibliobloggers.  Indeed as most of the world accepts bullshit ideas about Jesus, Christianity and Judaism anyway there is no real danger in having them 'seduced' by new bullshit ideas.  Maybe the general public can only be attracted to lies anyway.

I say again that any breaking down of barriers in scholarship is a good thing.  Any challenge to established and inherited dogma which engages the 9 to 5 crowd who think that life is just about eating, sleeping, and begetting children is a good thing.  Anything which gets people interested in things from two thousand years ago can only help those of us with new ideas.  The real danger is allowing the sterile world of the biblioblogger to stifle innovation.  That's why I believe in free enterprise, capitalism and the American way and why I think that scholarship could use more programs like the one Discovery Channel is helping produce rather than less of them.

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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