Last night (October 25, 2010), I participated in a panel discussion at the University of Pennsylvania on the challenge of reading the bible critically and religiously from the point of view of three faith traditions: Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Protestant.
Marc Brettler of Brandies University gave a Jewish perspective, Dan Harrington of Boston College gave the Roman Catholic perspective, and I was given the impossible task of giving the Protestant perspective.
The 3 papers (each 20 minutes long) were very well received and generated a lot of discussion afterwards. It is my understanding that the entire evening was recorded and will be (is?) available as a podcast. A text of my own comments can be downloaded here. (Forgive the oral feel of the paper, incomplete sentences, etc.)
My comments were aimed at diagnosing why some Protestants have such an easy relationship with modern biblical scholarship, and I suggested three reasons: the Protestant notion of sola Scriptura, the Protestant identity forged in the 19th century, and the very nature of the Christian Bible. I concluded with some very brief thoughts about moving forward.
I would like to thank Beth Wenger, Director the Jewish Studies Program at Penn, for arranging the evening and doing such a great job, Jeff Tigay, Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures, for extending the invitation, and Marc Brettler and Dan Harrington, for their deep thoughts on these matters and great dinner conversation afterwards.