Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rant on Wikipedia and Biblical Scholarship

To declare my agenda - I am in a ranting mood.

I have been working on a research project on the use of biblical interpretation in the Jewish Sectarians at Qumran. (I.e. the people from the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.) I decided to check out what the Wikipedia article had to say on the topic (yes, a very scholarly resource!) and to my surprise - it was terrible. Okay, I lie - it was not to my surprise.

This brings me to the question - can Wikipedia be trusted on issues of Biblical scholarship?

The answer is a big NO.

The articles and their use/abuse of scholarship is simply disgusting. I turned to the article on Pesher. It only scratches on the surface of what Pesharim is but - bam - we have time for a massive chunk on "Barbara Thiering's Interpretation". Nevermind the fact that no one other than Thiering agrees with Thiering, we will present it as a salient approach to the topic.

If you were to turn to the long standing Gospel of Mark page prior to a few recent edits - you would go away thinking that everyone believes Mark was written after 135AD. In reality, I can only think of one person who believes that (i.e. Detering) but I am sure there are a few others out there. And just a little note - if anyone has actually read Detering's building up of this thesis in the infamous Journal of Higher Criticism you would make me proud if you could resist laughing. Simply dismissing history because, umm? My thesis wouldn't work without doing such - isn't an all too sound approach. But I do not count myself Journal of Higher Criticism or even Jesus Seminar material.

[NB: If I am ever in desperate need of quick cash I may become worthy of such with the publication of my new thesis 'Elements of Michael Bay filmography in the Synoptic Gospels: A New Perspective'. In short, I clearly idenfy where the authors of Luke & Matthew do not just source from Mark and Q but also incorporate narrative elements of Transformers (2007) and The Island (2005). I am sure that if I were to run into problems in claiming that the New Testament was only written in 2008 Detering could help me out.

And just a further note - even though I do not agree with the majority of what I have read with said authors, I see no reason to impede on their right to do such. My belief is simply that when their view is propagated - it should be done so with consideration where it stands as a fringe form of scholarship.]

Honestly, from the multitude of Wikipedia articles I have visited you would be convinced that- the author of John was a Pythagorean because he mentioned the number "153"; Paul was a Gnostic because - well, someone on a website said so; Bart D Ehrman shares the views of every radical scholar (whether it be associating him with the Jesus Seminar or agreeing with Pagels); scholars are convinced of Jesus' non-existence; the original orthodoxy was Gnostic; etc, etc.

Wikipedians have a serious problem - they take fringe scholarship, present it as the academic consensus, and then take it a step further and add their own 'and this disproves Christainity/the Bible/etc' hypothesis summary. In the end, we end up with an unscholarly and unsound opinion built on what is generally unsound and fringe pseudo-scholarship.


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