Johnson on Academic Chicanery

[S]ince biblical scholarship has taken up a home primarily in the academy (where learned people speak and write to impress other learned people) rather than in the church (where holy people speak and write to transform others), it is peculiarly susceptible to academic chicanery.

Over the course of my career, I have seen wave after wave of theoretical keys promising to unlock the ancient texts: existentialism, psychology (Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian), structuralism (Marxism of some form or another), post-structuralism (whether Derridean or Foucaultian), the anthropology of honor and shame. They have all over-promised and under-delivered, for they have all missed the heart of the literature, which is religious thought about life before God.


My problem is with first-world academics using “post-colonialism” as just one more in a series of theoretical perspectives that have, at best, a very limited usefulness in understanding the New Testament. In the case of Paul, in particular, as I have tried to show, all social conditions are adiaphora, and all humans are called to be slaves of God. Paul is not concerned with moving around the furniture of social arrangements. He is much more radical than that. He is concerned with humans being transformed in their very existence so that they can share in the life of God.

Luke Timothy Johnson, Interview with Nijay Gupta

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