What Biblical Scholars Do

What Biblical Scholars Do May 20, 2015

Bob Cargill Biblical Scholar

Bob Cargill wrote on Facebook, “I’m a biblical scholar. One of my jobs is to show people evidence from the book they supposedly revere that certain claims they make aren’t possible because of what it says in the text they supposedly revere.”

He then added the challenge, “Meme THAT,” and several people did. The above is one of the results.

What he describes is certainly one of the roles of a Biblical scholar. But keep in mind that scholars only have this role because people who claim to revere the Bible don’t study it in any kind of depth or detail, and then proceed to make false claims about the Bible which are incompatible with what the Bible actually says and what the Bible actually shows itself to be.

Sometimes Biblical scholars are accused of attacking the Bible, or of attacking “believers,” or both. But the truth is that most Biblical scholars love the Bible, and are defending it from the distortions, misrepresentations, and lies that are committed by people who praise the Bible, but either don’t know or ignore what it actually says.

Feel free to meme that, too.


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  • robert r. cargill

    Thanx, James.

    • Apparently, when you say “meme that” people launch into action. When I say it…nothing. 🙂

      • ccws

        I’ll try to do better! My Meme Skillz could use a little practice… B-)

  • Johannes Richter

    The crucial distinction is in that first sentence: scholarship. Others also want claim that job for themselves, but do not really know what it takes to piece together good evidence, or are dismissive of the process. It isn’t just the ability to lace together strings of verses into an argument. Unfortunately for such self-appointed authorities, spending 20 or 30 years underlining verses in one or more translations of the Bible (with some help from Strong’s, for the ‘Greek meaning’) does not amount to scholarship.

    • ccws

      Or Scofield (and God forbid it should be the NEW Scofield!).

  • I find it amazing or pathetic that so many people are so ignorant about the book they revere. Not only revere but bet their lives upon. Too bad that those who ‘instructed’ them were equally ignorant. As a result of many generations of this sad scenario, the Bible has become something it was never supposed to be.

  • Greg Zapf

    Great beard.

  • R Myles

    IMO one of the best things biblical scholars do is question what it means to say “what the Bible really means” in the first place.

  • Tim

    I just watched a video series on Romans by Michael Hardin (which is great for many other reasons as well), in which he points out that what is being taught in most churches today is about (at least) 100 years behind the scholarship in most cases. No wonder the average churchgoer looks at biblical scholars and what they say with suspicion. This seriously needs to be fixed.

    • Any suggestions on how to fix it?

      • Tim

        Good question. How do we get this stuff taught in seminaries, and/ or how do we get pastors to actually disseminate the information to their congregations? My feeling is that would be a good place to start.

        • In most seminaries, except for very conservative ones, these things are taught. But I think that ministers often feel either that they are not relevant or interesting to their congregations, or that they are too controversial. And in denominations in which ministers are hired by the congregation, ironically that leaves the minister who is hired to teach the congregation having to avoid teaching them things they don’t want to learn.

          • Phil Ledgerwood

            I think the controversial nature is a big part of it. A lot of churches are built around simplicity and certainty. We haven’t tilled enough good soil to be able to talk about challenging scholarship without people feeling threatened.

            And it works from the top-down, too. I just came out of a denomination where, if you said, “Romans is not about personal justification by faith alone versus earning your salvation by good works,” you’d be two presbytery meetings away from a career in food service.

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    This is the greatest post in the history of posts. That I read this morning.

    Seriously, nail on the head.