Aside from the fact that social media and blogs are excellent tools for the dissemination of accurate information about the Bible and theology, there’s also a very practical reason which I shall now explain by the relating of a true story.
Several years back (5 or 6 now I think), in the Northwest of England, a campaign was quietly undertaken to shut down one of the most important Departments of Biblical Studies on the planet. That Department resided in the University of Sheffield. To this day I still do not know nor can I understand the reasons for this attempt. It made no sense then and it makes no sense to this very moment.
Word leaked out that the Department was scheduled to be shuttered and first, among the students, and then, among the blogs, and then, among the facebookers word spread and outrage grew and petitions were organized and pressure was levied and the plan was scuttled all within a few very short months.
I think it fair and accurate to say that, had this scurrilous plan been implemented in the years before the rise of social media and biblioblogs, it would have been carried out with scarcely anyone but those intimately involved knowing of it and the much admired and extremely important Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield would have ceased to be 5 years back.
Yet once more, in more recent times, a similar effort has been undertaken at the University by various persons who, inexplicably, wish to dismantle the Department and scatter its scholars to the winds of other areas. This makes no sense to me and I fear that without sufficient public outcry and the fitting remonstrance that such an effort always deserves, the Department would fall to the ax.
Biblical scholars within and without the University – making use of social media and blogs- can bring such attempts to the attention of a wider public and pressure can be exerted so that resources like Bibs (as the Department is lovingly known to its students and faculty) can continue to enrich the intellectual lives of us all- even if we have no personal connection to the University itself.
Why – then – should biblical scholars care about, and use, social media like twitter and facebook and why should they involve themselves in blogging? Because if they don’t, they render themselves silent, unheard, irrelevant, and the devices and schemes of those who would displace them will be quietly carried out in dark corners among giggling white middle aged males smoking cigars and chuckling under their breaths about how their scheme has come to fruition because the masses remain ignorant of their malignant intentions.
To be sure, you have to have something of a backbone to make use of very, very public platforms. But shouldn’t academics, entrusted by their very position in society to be seekers of and preservers of the truth, have a firmer backbone than most?
If you remain silent, who will speak? If Biblical Studies as a discipline is done away with, the only one who will be happy will be Hector Avalos (who, ironically and disingenuously earns his living off the back of a book he despises).