Does an article like that of Carolyn Osiek entitled “Catholic or catholic? Biblical scholarship at the center” [JBL 125 (2006) 5-22)] treat a topic of pertinence to the guild of scholars of biblical literature? Is it appropriate that JBL and RBL review volumes of OT and NT theology which lay claim to being descriptive (whether they are or not is another question)? If I understand Alan Lenzi correctly, he thinks not. Go here (and be sure to read the comments).
Alan is fine with SBL scholars reading the Bible with a view to gender politics (ancient or contemporary) and reporting on it in an SBL venue, but he is not fine with scholars reading the Bible with a view to theology (ancient or contemporary) and reporting on that. Not in an SBL venue.
One thing is certain. Scholar-reporters no less than newspaper reporters write not from some sort of neutral, objective point of view, but on the basis of specific cultural loyalties. I would take that to be a feature, not a bug. But that is not the end of the story. While it is to be expected that people, including scholars, will come at the biblical text will a fully formed set of convictions and interact with the text on that basis, the best biblical scholarship involves the sweaty effort of allowing those convictions to be tested and refined in light of the evidence and interaction with a broad range of secondary literature.
If that is the case, it is an excellent thing that everyone from post-colonialists to conservative evangelicals are active participants in SBL. Ideally, scholarship no matter how militant will not be parochial in spirit, but open to debate and challenge.
That’s all I ask. That’s all I think I’m entitled to ask.