“Biblical Studies: An Asset or Liability for People of Faith?”

March 19, 2021

One of the touchstones of our tradition is the importance of the Bible. Within churches we read the Bible as Holy Scripture. that discloses divine will. Within seminaries and universities, we read the Bible through the lens of biblical studies and evaluate it critically. Does biblical studies as a discipline help or hurt the faith of Christians who read the text as Scripture? The exchanges in this modified debate will model civil discourse on a contended issue, allowing the audience to engage in productive conversation.

Director's Comments

The 2021 Abraham Malherbe Plenary takes a new and critical turn this year when it addresses the question, “Biblical Studies: Asset or Liability for People of Faith?”

The exchanges in this modified debate will model civil discourse on a contended issue, allowing the audience to engage in productive conversation.

This plenary will feature four speakers: two representing the values of biblical scholarship and two describing its liabilities. With Greg Sterling serving as moderator, four scholars from two different generations will represent a wide scope of discussion. Richard Hughes and Raymond Carr will address liabilities and Carl Holladay and Amanda Pittman will speak to the benefits of biblical scholarship.

The “modified debate format” banks on our civil discourse as we engage contemporary matters of significance, expecting to rely on our best traditions (and better angels) as we address important concerns impacting our scholarship, the academy and our lives.

Through their honest and insightful interactions these esteemed colleagues should set a high standard for future engagements:

Raymond Carr:

Raymond Carr earned his Ph.D. in systematic and philosophical theology at Graduate Theological Union. He was an assistant professor of theology and ethics at Pepperdine University until 2019 and has lectured as visiting faculty in Heidelberg, Germany, Lausanne, Switzerland and Shanghai, China. His research interests are theologically ecumenical, historically sensitive, and radically inclusive.  

Greg Sterling, Moderator:

Greg Sterling is the Dean of Yale Divinity School and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament. He has held numerous leadership positions in the Society of Biblical Literature, the Studiorum Novi Societas, and the Catholic Biblical Association. He is a minister in Churches of Christ and serves in several leadership roles, including the advisory board for the Christian Scholars’ Conference.

Carl Holladay:

Carl Holladay is Charles Howard Candler Professor Emeritus of New Testament in Emory’s Candler School of Theology (1980–2019). His recent publications include Introduction to the New Testament (2017) and Acts: A Commentary (2016). He served as president of the international Society for New Testament Studies (2016–17) and since 2017 has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is now retired in Durham, NC.

Amanda Pittman:

Amanda Pittman (Th.D., Duke) is assistant professor of Bible and Ministry at Abilene Christian University. She studies the intersections of scripture and Christian practice in both congregational and higher education settings. Her scholarship and ministry seek to integrate the insights of New Testament studies and practical theology in service of Christian formation. 

Richard Hughes:

Richard Hughes has worked at the intersection of religion and American culture over the course of a 50-year career, specializing in the history of Churches of Christ, religion and American identity, religion and race in America, religion and American higher education, and the role of Christian primitivism in American life. He currently serves as scholar-in-residence in the Center for Christianity and Scholarship at Lipscomb University.