Refrain from editorializing author biographies- ex. Brevard Childs

Page 1 of 1 (17 items)
This post has 16 Replies | 0 Followers

Posts 13
Aaron Hayworth | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Apr 8 2019 5:30 PM

I think the reference to Childs as liberal in this bio was unnecessary at best and pejorative at the worst. The use of the negative conjunction "However," seems inappropriate and biased in a biography of this length. 

Brevard S. Childs (1923–2007), Old Testament professor at Yale University from 1958 until he retired in 1999. Childs had a significant positive influence in biblical theology by insisting that interpreters should be Christians who view the text as Scripture and regard the final form of the canon as the norm for interpretation. However, he held to many liberal views about Scripture, denying that Moses wrote the Pentateuch and seeing elements of pagan mythology in the Bible.

And I don't think it is a stretch to say that Mosaic authorship is no longer the default belief of most Christians, even for most evangelicals. So to call him liberal for that belief is pretty odd on a post-it sized bio. 

I would suggest deleting the last sentence in favor of adding something more objective, such as Childs' thoughts on the importance of Biblical memory in the New Testament. 

Posts 440
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 5:59 PM

Whether or not someone thinks "liberal" is pejorative is irrelevant, unless it's being used that way by Faithlife and I don't see that it is. The "However . . ." simply contrasts his unusual mix of views on Scripture.

I don't mean for this to be mean, but just because you might be sensitive about knowing whether or not someone is liberal or conservative doesn't mean others are or that it was intended in that way. If he was liberal then he was liberal and why would we try to hide that?

Posts 1084
Sean | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 6:28 PM

"Liberal" as used here is definitely at least a mild pejorative and a code word for "watch out! not on our side! doesn't color within the lines!"

 Logos Now Subscriber -- 22/2/2018

Posts 440
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 6:30 PM

Sean:

"Liberal" as used here is definitely at least a mild pejorative and a code word for "watch out! not on our side! doesn't color within the lines!"

Are you joking? Where do you read all that?

Posts 13
Aaron Hayworth | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 6:31 PM

It isn't sensitivity about knowing who is liberal or conservative, which is a subjective judgment. Obviously, I know what Childs represents. It is this author's insinuation that the two points are in conflict. 

This is obvious editorializing, because it assumes Childs' view on Mosaic authorship is in conflict with an inspired and canonical view of scripture. That is what is called a bias.

Posts 440
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 6:34 PM

Edit: Actually after re-reading the bio more carefully I guess that might come across from the word "positive" in contrast with the "however."

Posts 13
Aaron Hayworth | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 6:41 PM

Yeah, thanks. Language is subtle and I think we need to be careful, especially in our brevity.

Posts 1084
Sean | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 6:53 PM

J. Remington Bowling:

Sean:

"Liberal" as used here is definitely at least a mild pejorative and a code word for "watch out! not on our side! doesn't color within the lines!"

Are you joking? Where do you read all that?

From decades of reading evangelical assessments of other viewpoints.

 Logos Now Subscriber -- 22/2/2018

Posts 10040
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 7:07 PM

1. Where did the bio come from? Logos or publisher?

https://www.theopedia.com/brevard-childs 

2. Liberal views don't demand being liberal. Our died-in-the-wool conservative pastor has several liberal views. I notice, a lot do.

3. Holding toward scripture is simply factually recognizing canon. The however is unbalanced.


Posts 777
Lew Worthington | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 7:35 PM

Aaron,

Now that you mention it, I think I remember reading the blurb and having the same reaction. It does strike me also a bit odd in the context.

Posts 440
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 8:40 PM

Sean:
From decades of reading evangelical assessments of other viewpoints.

Obviously I meant where did you read all that within the remarks on the Logos webpage. If the webpage itself has negative connotations for liberalism that is fine, and I said that I can see where one could read it that way. But it makes no sense for you to carry all your own personal baggage against evangelicals into your reading of it. 

It also strikes me as odd that those who lean liberal are so offended at being seen in negative ways by conservatives or fundies, when it's painfully obvious that those who lean liberal look down upon and have negative attitudes towards conservatives or fundies.

Anyway, sure if Faithlife is responsible for the wording in the bio then they should change it to something more neutral. If the publisher is responsible then the complaint will probably need to be taken to them.

Posts 440
J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 8:46 PM

Denise:
3. Holding toward scripture is simply factually recognizing canon. The however is unbalanced.

I don't think it's the "however" by itself that makes it unbalanced. To see this, simply switch the propositions from the second sentence into the third sentence and it's obvious that the "however" by itself doesn't make the two sentences prejudiced. I think it's in conjunction with the "positive influence" remark in the second sentence that gives the "however" a negative connotation. That's what I overlooked when I read it the first time.

Posts 26141
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 8 2019 9:54 PM

J. Remington Bowling:
It also strikes me as odd that those who lean liberal are so offended at being seen in negative ways by conservatives or fundies, when it's painfully obvious that those who lean liberal look down upon and have negative attitudes towards conservatives or fundies.

Forum rule 3 reads "Please treat each other with the love, courtesy, respect, and kindness that you would if you were sitting in your living room together." I get more than enough victimhood from Facebook where I find victimization equally distributed across almost all possible divides with each side complaining about the other but blind to it in themselves. Therefore, I point to the one border wall that has been effective between groups - the border fence between Finnish reindeer and Russian reindeer. Or groups that appear to get along splendidly - Quakers & American Friends -- where there are two names for the same group.

As for liberals having negative attitudes towards conservatives (and vice versa), I recently ran into a example of the stuff that feeds that attitude. In an ecumenical commentary, the first essay was by an Orthodox scholar; in his response, the conservative scholar deliberately mis-quoted a church father: "Athanaeus’s pithy formula—that God became human so that we could become godlike." Have "scholars" that write stuff like that, expect a negative response. Stick out tongue

From one who is so conservative that it is mistaken for liberal. Note my "cohorts" tend to be urban professionals who grew up in very conservative small rural community. We have friends and relatives spread everywhere along the conservative-liberal line ... and can't resist having a bit of fun when someone thinks of conservative-liberal as a two groups staring at each other across an abyss of misunderstanding.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 3008
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 9 2019 6:09 PM

Whether "liberal" is pejorative or not, I think a fair number of Bible scholars would raise an eyebrow or two upon seeing that adjective related to Brevard Childs. Others would disagree with "positive."

I endorse the idea that author bios on product pages should refrain from editorialization of any sort.

Posts 1597
Ken McGuire | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 9 2019 7:19 PM

SineNomine:
Whether "liberal" is pejorative or not, I think a fair number of Bible scholars would raise an eyebrow or two upon seeing that adjective related to Brevard Childs. Others would disagree with "positive."

Exactly. Brevard Childs had a career of criticizing Liberal Theology and Biblical Studies. He may not be some people's idea of "Conservative" but to just describe him as "Liberal" is highly misleading.

The Gospel is not ... a "new law," on the contrary, ... a "new life." - William Julius Mann

Posts 13312
Forum MVP
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 10 2019 4:04 AM

I agree with this. It's too partisan to be appropriate. For those asking, it displays on logos.com when you search for Brevard Childs. It looks like a lazy copy/paste job from Theopedia, which is a reformed evangelical website.

Theopedia is usually a little more circumspect. For example, Gerhard von Rad's profile there says, "Gerhard von Rad (1901-1971) was a prominent German Old Testament scholar whose work brought back focus to the Old Testament… Von Rad's views were highly controversial, evoking considerable heat. Many of his theories have not stood the test of time, but it would be difficult to find another person who has contributed so much to the understanding of the Old Testament."

Posts 3008
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 13 2019 6:51 AM

Mark Barnes:
I agree with this. It's too partisan to be appropriate. For those asking, it displays on logos.com when you search for Brevard Childs.

It also appears here: https://www.logos.com/product/153563/the-old-testament-library-series-exodus

I prefer the bio that appears here: https://www.logos.com/product/49687/the-churchs-guide-for-reading-paul-the-canonical-shaping-of-the-pauline-corpus

"Brevard S. Childs was Sterling Professor Emeritus of Divinity at Yale Divinity School. Among his many books are Biblical Theology in Crisis, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, The New Testament as Canon, Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context, and Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible."

(I stripped it of formatting for display purposes, but originally the book titles are all italicized and the last two linked to other product pages.)

This bio, which unhappily omits his birth and death years, tells readers something about his standing in academia and points to various works he wrote, while indicating that he wrote many others. Could it stand to have some more details? Sure. But nothing in it is controversial.

EDIT: Another form of sloppiness in author bios appears in that for Ellen F. Davis. Nothing in it is controversial, but although it prominently lists previous academic appointments, it neglects to indicate what if any academic appointment she held at the time the bio was written. Google tells me she's presently at Duke.

Page 1 of 1 (17 items) | RSS