Mythicism and the Mainstream: The Rhetoric and Realities of Academic Freedom

I’ve been meaning to post for a while that my Society of Biblical Literature paper proposal has been accepted by the “Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship” section, and so will be presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Here is the abstract:

Mythicism and the Mainstream: The Rhetoric and Realities of Academic Freedom

James F. McGrath

The rhetoric of concern for academic freedom becomes prominent at different times and in different situations – for instance, when a scholar at an Evangelical institution is fired for adopting a viewpoint that reflects the consensus of mainstream scholarship, but also when a proponent of a fringe view like Jesus mythicism has difficulty finding a publisher. This paper will explore the use and misuse of appeals to academic freedom, focusing particular attention on the phenomenon of Jesus mythicism, and the particular case of Thomas Brodie as described in his recent memoir, Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus. On the one hand, Brodie records resistance to his ideas in the academy (largely within the domain of Catholic institutions, but also more widely). On the other hand, it is possible that Brodie will face censure from Catholic authorities in response to the publication of his views. The case thus provides a good opportunity to look at the nature of academic freedom and its character, extent, and limits within the secular academy as well as religiously-affiliated institutions.

 

  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

    Fascinating topic, James. You’ve got me curious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.hawthorne.90 John Hawthorne

    I look forward to reading more. I recently reflected on some similar (but less technical) issues in one of my more popular blog posts: http://johnwhawthorne.com/2013/02/09/the-opposite-of-critical-thinking-is-fear/. Keep up the good work.

  • Nick Gotts

    Sounds interesting.

    On the one hand, Brodie records resistance to his ideas in the academy
    (largely within the domain of Catholic institutions, but also more
    widely)

    As long as there are a reasonable number of journals where an idea can be published, I don’t think there’s any problem of academic freedom: it doesn’t mean the freedom to publish any idea wherever you like. Some ideas won’t be published in any reputable journal, but in any specific case, that may be because they’re rubbish.

  • http://www.facebook.com/balogh.alexandru2 Balogh Alexandru

    Interesting. I personaly think this subject is more present in today’s universities and among the scholars than we even imagine. Can’t wait to have acces to full text, it might bring some light in couple questions and life changing experiences I had over the time. Keep up the good work


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