The Bible And Anti-Intellectualism

I’ve been told more than a few times that I rely too much on the opinions of scholars when it comes to reading and interpreting the Bible. Instead of reading books that talk about the Bible, I’m told I ought to “just read the Bible” and “believe what it says.”

Those who advocate this just-read-the-Bible-and-do-what-it-says approach fail to acknowledge, however, the centuries of Biblical scholarship that have taken place in order to allow them to read their Bible in the first place.

The truth is, all of us, especially those of us who don’t know the Biblical languages (Hebrew and Aramaic for the OT and Greek for the NT), are dependent on the work of countless scholars who have devoted their professional lives to sorting through the wealth of ancient manuscripts in order to determine which ones are the earliestĀ (more on this in another post) and then translating these manuscripts into English so that we can read them in our native language.

There simply is no such thing as “just reading the Bible” apart from the work of modern Biblical scholarship. If you read your Bible in English then you are dependent on the work of modern scholars.

The great irony of anti-intellectual Fundamentalism is that it’s fully dependent on centuries of rigorous intellectual achievement. That is, those who claim we ought not concern ourselves with the work of modern Biblical scholarship but instead on the Bible and the Bible alone are themselves dependent on the very scholarship that they scorn–and often unknowingly!

As if the Bible droppedĀ out of the sky, bound and translated with a nifty 1 year reading plan placed at the back for your devotional convenience…


See also: Reading the Bible Is More Complicated Than You Think OR Why Proof-Texting Is Bad OR The Lens Through Which I Read the Bible