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9403SV: [ANE-2] Tardy response to a minor comment

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  • Niels Peter Lemche
    Nov 29, 2008
      Dear K.L.,

      Thank you for the comment. Only saw it now. Back from Boston I had 300 mails waiting. Mr. Pride's comment is of course extremely badly informed, from a person who seems to appropriate what is religion from his own observation. A hardly a comment that should have passed here (maybe I passed it? I was back on the 28th and there were several mails for ANE waiting to moderate.

      After all, "minimalism" is an ethic term placed on the minimalists by other people. It only says what somebody else thinks. It is no reflection of what the group itself represents but typical of the discourse within certain circles of biblical scholarship.

      And now, I suppose we can get on to something more relevant than Mr. Pride's misrepresentations (misprisions).

      Niels Peter Lemche

      -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
      Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af K L Noll
      Sendt: den 29 november 2008 19:17
      Til: ANE-2
      Emne: [ANE-2] Tardy response to a minor comment

      With the annual SBL meeting, as well as the marking of exams and term papers, I have only just today begun to read a backlog of listserv digests. I came across this very bizarre little comment and cannot resist responding to it...

      Dan Pride wrote, in part: "Minimalism has been rooted far more in antagonism to religion and its excesses than in the facts, which is why it goes down so hard,... screaming and scratching at every turn."

      My guess is that Dan Pride has never actually held a conversation with a so-called Minimalist. As I understand the term, it is a method of research (defined quite succinctly by Axel Knauf back in the early 1990s, in an essay on Solomon's Copper Mines). For me, the attractive aspect of Minimalism as a research method is that it matches the method in which I was trained by a medievalist when I was an undergraduate history major. The polemics that emerged around the term Minimalism during the mid-1990s came as quite a shock to me and, so far as I can tell, derived almost entirely from a religiously motivated faction, so it seems bizarre to characterize the Minimalists as antagonistic to religion (as though "religion" were one undifferentiated phenomenon).

      Now, the central point I want to make is this: As a professor of Religious Studies, I have grown weary of people who obviously know (and care) nothing for our academic discipline constantly describing us as "antagonistic to religion" (as Dan Pride does in this snip). We are no more antagonistic to religion than a biologist is antagonistic to a frog. But the biologist kills more than a few frogs so that he/she can cut them open and see how they work. What appears to the religious participant as hostility is really nothing more than the routine (and rather messy) activities of dissection taking place in the lab. Sure it kills some of the magic of religious experience, but it enhances our understanding of why humans are religious. It seems to me that our research offends only those who harbor unrealistic notions about the potential for "truth" within their own religious traditions. My experience is that the fuss over so-called Minimalism never occurs when secular so-call!
      ed Maximalists interact with the equally secular so-called Minimalists.

      Ok, back to marking term papers...

      K. L. Noll
      Brandon University
      Brandon, Manitoba
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