Bible Scholar on an Airplane
The SBL Forum has a great essay just posted, "Bible Scholar on an Airplane" (click here). The author, Samuel Thomas, a biblical scholar, makes some apt observations about the perils of revealing our profession in public, especially in situations where one is somewhat trapped. Why is it that everyone seems to be an expert on religion? Why is it that people so easily assume they are on the same religous wavelength with me?? Here is a small excerpt:
I have developed over the years several different responses to questions about "what I do for a living." In the right settings — namely those in which my words are unlikely to be misunderstood or misconstrued — I am perfectly happy to discuss my livelihood and engage people on topics in which I am heavily invested, and I may even claim the Bible scholar epithet. But despite some happy occasions, my dilemma persists; whatever the actual odds of finding myself in an undesirable situation, the danger always lurks that my interlocutor will readily make assumptions about me and the real nature of my work — assumptions that may or may not correspond to my own. He may find my approach to the study of the Bible to be too liberal, overly academic, unnecessarily constraining, exceedingly parochial, heretical, anachronistic, tedious, narrow, or pluralistic. In other words, what I do can become more about who he is and what he thinks I should be doing. This is a problem that I suspect generally does not obtain in the life of the accountant and the salesman, or for that matter the chemist or the mathematician.