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A shame indeed!! :)

I'm looking forward to N.T. Wrong's Nov. 1 post where he explains the list in more detail.

ElShaddai Edwards

A grand conspiracy indeed.

I'm still trying to figure out how I got categorized as "Early Judaism"... must be my name!


It is rather delightful, isn't it?

ed cook

Let's see ... remind me why we should care what this guy thinks?

Kevin P. Edgecomb

In enjoy the company, too.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

Oops. That's "I enjoy the company too." Our building is cold today, and my fingers aren't so limber.

N. T. Wrong

Ed - methinks you're protesting a little too much. I can tell you really do care.


N. T.,

One problem is that, as with Iyov, we are supposed to pretend we don't know who you are. I admit, the mystery is a nice touch, but in the absence of name, rank, and serial number, people ARE going to wonder why they should care.

I'm already receiving emails asking who you are. But I won't tell.


You're not pretending. Very conservatives will never know.

Simon Holloway

I noticed that too; normally I hate the usage of tight, specific categories, but in this case I thought it was really funny! Clearly the last time that I am ever going to be placed in such distinguished company; I might as well enjoy it while it lasts, no?

Charles Halton

John, you're a wolf in sheep's clothing. Very conservative...not hardly--Edmund Burke is rolling over in his grave ;)


Hey, how did I get dragged into this discussion? I'm not the "very conservative" Italian Communist Party member.

And, for the record, I found Rights of Man to much be better written than Reflections on the French Revolution.



Do enjoy it while you can.


Do not misunderestimate your opponents. That's been done before, and didn't work out too well.


Edmund Burke is not the only one who is rolling over in his grave. :)


Politics has nothing to do with it, or is not supposed to. But thanks for reminding me that I was once a card-carrying member of the Italian Communist Party. Great memories and great friendships. Did you notice that you, a stricter inerrantist than I am, was classified by N.T. as a liberal?


I know that you don't know who NT Wrong is. "misunderestimate"?

D. P.

Maybe we should form a club and come up with a secret handshake.

Mike Heiser

John - I just replied over at NT Wrong, but here is the content of my reply. What fun!

"An interesting list. As with all such lists, there are incongruities (Mark "there is no Q" Goodacre at NT Gateway = "Liberal" ?; Peter "I love the OT's paganized cosmology" Enns = Very conservative - too bad Westminster booted him!; Darrel Bock = "fairly" conservative - a pre-trib dispensationalist?). Not even close on these. Then there's me. I'm not classified correctly according to your definitions (but I realize they have to be brief and simplistic). I'm not going to say where I should be because I enjoy being hard to classify. But here's a hint that goes to the weakness of the list, and a weakness to all such labeling attempts. People (especially scholars) mistakenly assume that if one uses critical methods one cannot use them to re-articulate traditional (conservative) theological positions - basically because they lack the imagination or experience or creativity to do so."



You hit the nail on the head.

Personally, I enjoy being called "very conservative" by a liberal, but I wouldn't if I taught at a secular university where being "conservative" is a mark against you.

What I am labeled matters very little to me in the final analysis. I just enjoy reading Scripture on its own terms and noting how it rings true more, not less, when I let that happen.


Personally, I enjoy being called "very conservative" by a liberal, but I wouldn't if I taught at a secular university where being "conservative" is a mark against you.

John, I have no idea what you are talking about. Conservatives are just as welcome at secular universities as liberals. At top universities, evaluation is based on originality, methods used, and the quality of research. It is well know that some religious colleges do not equally value rigor and originality.

You've maintained several times that there is a witch hunt against conservatives on secular campuses -- but I have yet to see evidence of this. It appears to me to be part of a broad set of complaints ("mainstream media has liberal bias", "academics enforce political correctness", "minority and young voters are engaging in massive voter fraud") that are oft-repeated but poorly documented.

I can certainly recite a long list of conservatives associated with secular institutions. Is it really necessary for you to continually pander with this argumentum ad captandum?



Wow. Do you really think that the "broad set of complaints" is without foundation?

If the complaints are without foundation, I wonder why the University of Colorado is raising money for a "Chair in Conservative Thought and Policy." There would be no need for such a chair if proponents of conservative thought and policy were already well-represented.

If the complaints are without foundation, I wonder why MSM journalist Evan Thomas (ass't managing editor of Newsweek) famously said, "There's one other base here, the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win and I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards - I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox - they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them, collective glow, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points."

Thomas may over-estimate the power of the establishment media, but even if its "contribution" is worth only 5 or 10 points, that is enough to throw a lot of elections.

You are right, though. Such complaints are not easy to document because people are seldom asked straight out who they support, so it's possible to pretend, for example, that the mainstream media seeks to provide a representative cross-section of opinion to its consumers. It's possible to pretend that news agencies are not staffed by liberals almost down to last man and woman until you ask them, straight out, where they stand.

This has been done, and the results speak for themselves.

The results of a recent poll of Slate's staff and contributors are, I think, typical: 55 out of 57 are Obama supporters, 1 for McCain (a copy editor), 1 for Barr.

Now maybe you think that that does not create what is known as an "echo-chamber." Maybe you think that such an organization, despite the monolithic nature of its political demographic, will nevertheless furnish unbiased political reporting.

If so, I would have to consider you a credulous person.


Sorry, John -- it turns out that Obama's support is highest among those who are more highly educated. (See the Gallup Poll. By the way, you'll notice that when I cite a statistic, I give a reference.)

As far as the mainstream media is concerned: we have two serious newspapers in the US and one is sharply conservative (The Wall Street Journal). The leading cable news network in the US is Fox News. Indeed, the same prominent figure is behind both of these, and many other important media properties: Rupert Murdoch.

Your readiness to repeat the "line" without qualification indicates to me that you have engaged in serious critical thinking on the issue.

The conservatism of Provost Dr. Condoleeza Rice, Prof. Henry Kissenger, Prof. Leo Strauss, Prof. Milton Friedman, Prof. John Woo, Prof. Donald Kagan, Prof. Robert George, Prof. Harvey Mansfield, Prof. Samuel Huntington, Stanford's Hoover Institute, the economics departments of University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon, and pretty much every top 20 business school is quite secure -- thank you very much. Of course -- why bother with facts when you can so quickly slur?

So what has happened to the conservative movement? It has expelled its thinkers. Rather than nominate the strongest minds in the party, Republicans chose to embrace religious bigotry against a Mormon candidate and nominated John McCain (who readily admits that he doesn't understand economics), applauded the nomination of Sarah Palin (who has proven unable to be even capable of answering softball questions in interviews), and have endorsed a campaign that appeals to Joe the McCarthy and claims that Obama (like Adam Smith, a foreigner and thus dangerous) is a "socialist" because he supports progressive taxation. The most prominent "minds" of the Republican party are Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity.

William F. Buckley's famous plea that the conservative movement should be the movement of ideas has been soundly rejected by the Republican party. Intellectuals have not abandoned conservatism -- conservatism has expelled its intellectuals. I believe that this is a fatal mistake for the Republicans.

But what bothers me is your willingness to accept what "everybody knows" without critical thinking. It is much more comforting to mindlessly adopt the pose of the victim, and assert that "they are all out to get us."


By the way -- to answer your question about the University of Colorado -- perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the chose Bruce Benson, a man with no advanced degree (he does have a B.A. in mining), whose major claim to fame was a Republican fund-raiser, and whose prior major academic experience was a a chair of the trustees of Metropolitan State College of Denver -- where he effectively eliminated tenure. Think John Silber without the brains.


Please correct "that the chose Bruce" to "that the university chose as its new President this February Bruce"



How quickly you change the subject. I thought we were talking about how normal it is for people on secular university campuses, in major news outlets, etc., to fly their liberal colors in and outside of the classroom or workplace, and publicly self-identify as liberals and, say, Kerry or Obama supporters, but how difficult it is in the same contexts, apart from a few well-known cases, for people to self-identify as, say, Christian conservatives, or Bush or McCain supporters.

These facts are well-known, so you are forced to change the subject and talk about perceived structural weaknesses of other contexts, such as educational institutions with a religious affiliation, and of the Republican party, about as well liked on secular university campuses as was the Democrat party in an earlier epoch (a land-grant institution like the University of Wisconsin was dominated by Republicans back in the days when Democrats were led by the likes of William Jennings Bryan, in fact, I think for a time there was an unwritten rule almost that you had to be a Republican: the parallel is interesting, isn't it?).

It's not about witch hunts. It's about the creation of an echo-chamber. But hey, many people on both sides of the divide actually approve of the bifurcation of American culture. Let's be honest, please.

Perhaps it will eventually reach a point in which we are as bifurcated as are many European countries, in which the educated classes don't even try anymore to have an organic connection with the life of Joe the Plumber.

It is not anomalous that town and gown do not get along. That is as old as Socrates. But perhaps that curious American anomaly, in which Wall Street and Main Street talked to each other, understood each other, and shared many of the same cultural assumptions, is coming to an end. I fail to see that as a good outcome.

The result could well be power in the hands of people like Berlusconi, Sarkozy, even Haider.

The left side of the political spectrum has always been its own worst enemy. But really, I hope I am wrong about this. It looks like we will soon see if and how this political truism will work itself out in American politics.


The majority of academic staff at my secular university are conservative, and very good original scholars. It's the reverse that doesn't work - religious institutions don't welcome liberals.

Mike, If you read Wrong's post following the list, you'll see his description of categories. He's got Goodacre, Bock and Enns accurately. And remember very conservatives still fight between themselves as often as very liberals fight among themselves.



My guess is that you are using the word "conservative" in an unusual way. I imagine that few if any of your professors are openly pro-life, openly against doing stem-cell research from destroyed fetuses, or openly against gay marriage. If they are card-carrying Republicans, my guess is, they keep it to themselves, and are not likely to drive a vehicle with a McCain bumper sticker.

As far as Wrong is concerned, I note he has downgraded me and many others to "Fairly Conservative." Not quite as fun to be tagged as only fairly conservative.

J. K. Gayle

"Joe the McCarthy" -- that's classic, Iyov!

This well-labelled litmus-tested election cycle has certainly been more fun than the last several.

John, thanks for a great post and the perspective you've brought in the comments too.


I and NT Wrong are using conservative to describe biblical scholarship - not politics. He actually states that in the first post.


(conservatives are generally high church religious)


although the good conservative staff in my institution may well be conservative politically, I really don't know. Politics isn't an issue.



That's fine if you are not talking politics, though "high church religious" is also obscure.


John --

I'm not sure what your point is.

(1) If you are making the point that conservatives are not as numerous in academia as they are in the general population, I would agree with you. However, I think it is safe to say that conservatives in academia outnumber women in academia. I think it is safe to safe that conservatives in academia are better represented relative to their proportion in the general population than African-Americans in academia are relative their proportion in the general population.

(2) If you are claiming that conservatives are held to different standards than liberals at top universities, then I cannot agree with you. I would welcome convincing evidence (note that anecdotal evidence does not qualify.)

(3) If you are arguing for radical egalitarianism -- that intellectual work should abandon its rigor and instead adopt the standards of Fox News so as to connect with the common man -- then I cannot agree with you. Indeed, I think the point was rather settled with the Scopes trial. Now, there are a number of gifted communicators who make their research accessible to the masses. But in an age where your parishioners need, for example, the NLT Bible because KJV English is just too darn difficult, I think what is needed is better education -- not a watering down of academic standards.

The words "liberal" and "conservative" are probably not appropriate for defining anyone in academia (who have views far more nuanced and sophisticated than suggested by the vulgar movements associated with those terms), and that use of "liberal" or "conservative" to identify academics represent at best an inaccurate shorthand and at worst sloppy thinking.

I continue to find the decline in the conservative movement over the last twenty years to be tragic. The only TV program I could stand when I was a child was Firing Line, which I found to be enthralling. I gave up TV when I was 12, and now I only get a chance to watch TV when I am in a hotel and suffering from insomnia. Perhaps my brief hotel stays do not afford me a broad overview of conservative voices in the media, but I suspect that even a disputatious fellow such as yourself would concede that Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity are not exactly heavyweights of the mind.



You make your points very well. I concede them all without, however, wishing to exonerate academia from its contribution to the bifurcation of American culture.

Perhaps the land-grant tradition as realized in Wisconsin is unique. I don't know. "The Wisconsin Idea" is based on the assumption that the University is not supposed to be an echo-chamber, a place where academics write exclusively almost for other academics, but a university without walls with respect to its "hinterland."

The conservative movement, if it is to become once again a positive stimulus, will be served well by an across-the-board defeat of the Republican party. The conservative movement, if it is become once again a vehicle of positive change, will have to create a new synthesis, and that is, indeed, an intellectual endeavor. In short, the future of the conservative movement will depend on a series of realignments that no one, I think, is able to predispose.

I cannot help but thinking that the need for a new conservative movement will become painfully obvious not far into an Obama presidency. And if not, I want to be among the first to give credit where credit is due.

I don't think you understand the difference between conservative scholarship and conservative religion and politics. We don't discuss the abortion issue in our departments here. We mainly talk about biblical studies. I use 'conservative' in the way Wrong does.

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    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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