Tim Bulkeley’s Brilliant Essay in Bible and Interpretation

Tim has said well and rightly what lots of us have been thinking and too few have been saying (except for the swipe at minimalist historiography. It is my opinion that minimalism FORCES us to think theologically about scripture instead of constricting it with some supposed historiographic slavery).

If we continue as we have been, seeking to separate faith from biblical studies, then all we can expect to foster are sharper and wilder fights between the extremists, with the middle ground left as a muddied no-man’s-land.

Theology and biblical studies without faith are not only impossible (really) they are harmful and ultimately misleading.

10 thoughts on “Tim Bulkeley’s Brilliant Essay in Bible and Interpretation

  1. […] Jim West is right to point out the following: “…except for the swipe at minimalist […]


  2. Doug 28 Dec 2010 at 12:10 pm

    interesting article.


  3. […] is out. Even before I woke up to read the email that it had been published Jim West had already posted a response (whose title I am too modest to trumpet, and which is accompanied by a flattering portrait 😉 and […]


  4. Tim Bulkeley 28 Dec 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you! Not least for thre flattering photo 😉 I do hope that you (and others) will engage more with the piece, as I think the issue it tries to raise is worth some discussion in the blogsphere…


  5. derek4messiah 28 Dec 2010 at 5:47 pm


    I’m learning. Trying to understand your enthusiasm for minimalist historiography. Any places online I could read how minimalism encourages theological thinking over “supposed historiographic slavery.” And on top of that, is there a book you commend to grasp what minimalist historiography has to offer biblical scholarship?


  6. Jim 28 Dec 2010 at 5:51 pm

    derek? are you running for messiah? i thought voting for that was closed… 😉

    anyway, more seriously, yes- go to bible and interpretation and select their ‘minimalism’ section.


    theres a VERY fine essay there that i think may address your question-


    (THAT guy is SHARP).


  7. derek4messiah 28 Dec 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Forgive me, Jim, but reading your article and a few others, it seems people are using minimalism as a label for some very different things. In your case, it means not assuming biblical texts are intended as historical reporting or that they can be used for detailed reconstruction of history. Agreed. I dabble in midrash and certainly understand some hint of the difference in our thinking about history now and way back then.

    But others are saying minimalism includes even the idea that “ancient Israel” is not an important concept. By analogy, I would assume they would equally say the existence of non-existence of Jesus is not important as long as we have the stories. The stories are everything. History is nothing. Not agreed.

    Can you help me get through this impasse in understanding?


    • Jim 28 Dec 2010 at 7:15 pm

      nope- because i can only tell you what i think about minimalism. i cant tell you what thompson or davies or lemche think. you’d have to ask them.


  8. […] Studies.  Tim Bulkeley has recently posted up an article on B&I on the subject, of which has garnered as much attention as the article is enjoyable.  He writes (read the whole article, it is quite […]


  9. […] of the relationship between faith and biblical studies has been debated for a while.  Recently Jim West pointed us to an article related to this issue.  While I would not agree with all that is said in […]


Comments are closed.