The Heart of Biblical Studies

A number of years ago, I remember complaining about how a particular text read. My professor very wisely asked me, “Well, what would you prefer it to say?”

I reflect on that question a lot and have come to the conclusion that, academically, it is the heart of biblical studies. Genuine biblical studies are not about what you want it to say, but a sworn allegiance to grappling with what it actually says.

In that sense, the text is quite confrontational. Not in a loud way, but in a firm way. The text is the text. It’s not going to change. The only variable in the equation is our willingness to embrace what it says and abandon what we feel it should say. Only then can truly say we embrace the authority of Scripture. And while that is a good, pious commitment, I would also argue that it’s an academic precondition. 

If we’re not going to commit to the text, then how could we possibly call ourselves students of it?