Ugghhh… The Huffington Post ‘Scripture Commentary Series’

The HP has announced that it is commencing something it calls the ‘Scripture Commentary Series’.  Ugh.  Will any of the ‘commentators’ actually be Scripture scholars or will it be an assemblage of ruminations by unlearned dilettantes?

Huffington Post Religion is starting a scripture commentary series that will bring together leading voices from different religious traditions to offer their wisdom on selected religious passages. Next month we will have Muslim commentaries for Ramadan, and in September Jewish commentaries for the High Holidays. This week we are starting with commentaries on the Gospel by Rev. Jim Wallis, Dr. Serene Jones, Dr. Emilie Townes, Sister Joan Chittister, and Rev. James Martin, S.J. They will all be offering their meditations on the same passage from Matthew 7: 24-27.

At least they have one actual biblical scholar- James Martin (those Jesuits are awesomely learned).  Call me cynical, but my suspicion is that the bulk of commentators will be the warm and fuzzy feel good scripture emptying of its real significance sort.  Maybe the series’ writers will prove me wrong.  I suppose we shall see.  But given the HP’s willingness to embrace all manner of far left leaning ideologies, it’s extremely doubtful this series will be different.

19 thoughts on “Ugghhh… The Huffington Post ‘Scripture Commentary Series’

  1. Joel 26 Jul 2010 at 10:15 am

    Yeah..that was my though too.


  2. jl 26 Jul 2010 at 10:18 am

    serene jones and emilie townes are major theologians. jones held a chair at yale in theology and is now the president of union theological seminary. townes held a chair at union and now holds one at yale. she is a major ethicist and former president of the american academy of religion. they are both more than qualified to offer their “reflections” on gospel passages. it’s ironic that you would challenge their credentials.


    • Jim 26 Jul 2010 at 10:25 am

      im not questioning their credentials. ive never heard of them. the only one i know as a scripture scholar is the one i mentioned. the rest are unknowns to me. any of those you mention actually written a commentary?


  3. Doug 26 Jul 2010 at 10:20 am

    Oh, Doctor West, you are soooo cynical.


  4. Joel 26 Jul 2010 at 10:25 am

    Not sure credentials means qualified.


  5. Jim 26 Jul 2010 at 10:29 am

    indeed, being an ethicist doesn’t qualify one to be an exegete. she may well be a fine exegete and she may be published as a commetator. but i’ve never heard of her as a commentator. and believe me, i’ve heard of most.


  6. […] comments on HuffPo’s plan to do a series on Scripture commentary. Christian scholars from various traditions will take turns commenting on Matt. […]


  7. Rev Tony Buglass 26 Jul 2010 at 12:40 pm

    If it’s the same Jim Wallis, he is an excellent preacher and pastor, was (is?) involved with the Sojourners Community in Washington DC – well worth hearing. He spoke very well at the Greenbelt Festival in the UK about 3 years ago.


  8. Jeremy 26 Jul 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Pfft. They should have just dispensed with all this nonsense and just asked me to do it. I’m awesome. 😉


  9. jl 26 Jul 2010 at 6:22 pm

    one doesn’t need to be trained in the academic discipline of biblical studies to have helpful things to say about scripture. there are a lot of theologians who haven’t published biblical commentaries (the discipline of theology or ethics doesn’t encourage or reward publication of commentaries like the ones published in nt or ot studies) but who nevertheless have useful insights into scripture’s meanings. and you did implicitly question their credentials when you expressed your suspicion that because they aren’t trained in biblical studies they might be warm and fuzzy. the two of them are the opposite of warm and fuzzy. if you want a critique of masculine whiteness that pulls no punches, read townes. if you want careful and important feminist critique and appropriation of calvin, luther, and barth, read jones. my point in my earlier post was that they are serious academic theologians who are well known in all mainstream academic theological contexts (townes was, after all, president of the american academy of religion, and jones, of course, is the head of a major seminary affiliated with columbia university).


    • Jim 26 Jul 2010 at 6:42 pm

      im not so sure barth didn’t give us all a pretty good lesson about people untrained in biblical studies having their way with scripture when he published his Romans and we all learned a lot about barth and virtually nothing about paul.


  10. jl 26 Jul 2010 at 7:44 pm

    where did you do your training in biblical studies? i couldn’t find it on your website.


    • Jim 26 Jul 2010 at 7:46 pm

      happy to answer your questions as soon as you identify yourself. my details are easily discoverable whereas you are- at present- merely anonymous. and while i normally dont even allow anonymous comments you seem relatively normal. however, i’m not divulging everything while you divulge nothing.


  11. jl 26 Jul 2010 at 7:50 pm

    by the way, barth–especially the late barth–is a great example of a brilliant exegete in the “small print” sections of the church dogmatics when he was establishing the exegetical foundations for his theology. stunningly brilliant at times.


    • Jim 26 Jul 2010 at 7:52 pm

      are you aware that his secretary is now suspected to have written many of the ‘small print’ sections?


  12. jl 26 Jul 2010 at 8:01 pm

    yes, of course. she might have written some. that doesn’t discredit him, however, or make it less likely that he was an exegetical genius (a point agreed upon widely by readers of barth, even in biblical studies).

    if your details are “easily discoverable”, you’re not “divulging” anything, much less “everything”. i’m just asking about your credentials on a more or less professional blog (not everything is related to nt studies, etc. but much is) where you have claimed to have them. i haven’t made any claims about myself. plus, you can easily see my email address. i’m certainly not a troll.


    • Jim 26 Jul 2010 at 8:31 pm

      nice evasion but since you refuse to identify yourself i think you’re done here.


  13. Jonathan Post 27 Jul 2010 at 9:18 am

    You sure like that joke about Barth’s Romans. I really believe he was trying to translate what God is saying there. Where do you think he went wrong? Method? Treating the text so ahistorically? I’m curious (and not learned in either theology or biblical studies!).


    • Jim 27 Jul 2010 at 10:05 am

      my problem with barth’s romans is that it’s all barth and no romans. commentaries aren’t opportunities for the commentator to get on a hobby horse.


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