Biblical studies students at Sheffield apparently now have some good news. According to Christianity Today,
Following student protests, the University of Sheffield in England decided to not close the department of biblical studies. A review by the pro-vice-chancellor had recommended shutting down the department down after current and 2009-2010 students completed their degrees, citing the loss of staff and declining student demand. At 8 a.m. today, 1,064 members had joined the Facebook group “Don’t shut down Biblical Studies at Sheffield” and a website was created to send the vice chancellor petition letters, several of which were posted on the website. . . . “The number of [student] entries last year were capped at eight, but this year’s graduates and level three students represent all-time high figures,” Hurrell said in an e-mail. “While five senior lecturers have left over the last 2 years, the university has not allowed the department permanent staff to replace them for a variety of reasons.” The university senate was supposed to vote on the department’s future on October 7, but after students heard through the students’ union and protested, the decision was postponed. . . . Taylor said that the the faculty will draw up plans for the department, including new staff appointments.
In working through some bibliography recently for a conference paper proposal about מורה הצדק (the teacher of righteousness), I came across the following:
Der Lehrer [der Gerechtigkeit] ist von Gott autorisiert, die Geheimnisse der Prophetenworte zu enträtseln, denn die Worte der Propheten sind Geheimnisse (רזים [pHab] 7,5), die man ohne Auslegung des Lehrers nicht verstehen kann. Der Lehrer tritt also mit seiner Verkündigung nicht neben die Schrift, sondern er basiert auf der Schrift. Er allein hat von Gott das rechte Verständnis offenbart bekommen. Darum kann er und mit ihm seine Gemeinde nach dem Willen Gottes leben (Jeremias 141).
The teacher unlocked prophetic meaning in the community’s scriptures, and the community depended precisely on this insight to learn the proper practice(s) to which they were called through the prophets.
Concerning interpreters’ obligation to look beyond themselves, Hans-Georg Gadamer observes the following:
We are always affected, in hope and fear, by what is nearest to us, and hence we approach the testimony of the past under its influence. Thus it is constantly necessary to guard against overhastily assimilating the past to our own expectations of meaning. Only then can we listen to tradition in a way that permits it to make its own meaning heard (Gadamer 304).
Thus, Gadamer advises interpreters always to seek to put themselves into the position of the other person(s) whom these interpreters wish to understand. For, by so doing, interpreters may begin, albeit imperfectly, to look beyond themselves “not in order to look away from [what is near] but to see it better, within a larger whole and in truer proportion” (Gadamer 304).
In Thomas Kuhn’s analysis, new paradigms attract adherents from older alternatives by producing sufficiently unprecedented achievements, but these new paradigms still leave work to be done because of the new problems that they create or the new issues they suggest (Kuhn 10, 17–18, 80). Yet, the community that accepts a given paradigm implicitly judges the problems that the paradigm introduces to be less severe than those that it resolves (Kuhn 23).
Paradigms define specific, scientific communities, and young scientists gain entrance into a mature scientific community by learning to operate within that community’s paradigm (Kuhn 10–11). Conversely, those who refuse to accept a paradigm in ascendancy in a given field may be excluded from that field’s discourse (Kuhn 19, 104). Thus, a paradigm forms its adherents and their work into a relatively cohesive, identifiable tradition of “normal science” within which individuals rarely disagree over their paradigm’s fundamental attributes (Kuhn 11).