Thursday, 17 September 2015
Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion,
ed. José Ignacio Cabezón & Sheila Greeve Davaney, Routledge, 2004,
Chapter 4 "Between Identity and Footnotes" (pp. 77-97), page 77-78
Taking up cudgels to defend the independence of scholarship from identity, Pamela Eisenbaum - an unambiguous Jew who is not a Christian in any way, but who teaches New Testament theology at Iliff School of Theology - makes two clear statements:
First, a scholar's religious identity is irrelevant to the study of religion generally a well as to the stidy of a particular religion or religions ... Secondly, certain aspects of scholars' religious identities motivate and/or influence scholars' perceptions of the religions they study.
She then asks whether a scholar's religious identity privileges them or their work in any way and gives an emphatic 'No!' answer. She then gives an important qualification and caveat:
Inside a broad scholarly arena, one with commonly agreed-upon scholarly standards but that encompasses a diversity of perspectives, personal religious identity is not determinative of scholarly conclusions.
Now here's the caveat:
Where, however, scholars within a particular religious tradition have not enjoyed the benefit of commonly agreed-upon scholarly standards among people of diverse perspectives, or where a religious perspective has been either threatened and persecuted or, conversely, has gone unchallenged by other views, religious identity is more likely to be predictable, and apologetics rather than scholarship are more likely to prevail.
So I must be careful on a numebr of counts!