As I understand it, Dr. Christopher A. Rollston, the Toyozo Nakarai Professor of Old Testament and Semitics at Emmanuel Christian Seminary in Johnson City, Tennessee, could well be dismissed from his position at the seminary. From what I have heard of the situation, the dismissal appears to be extremely unfair and in violation of the principles of academic freedom. Many sources suggest that an op-ed piece by Rollston in the Huffington Post about how women are viewed in biblical texts rankled some of the more conservative elements at the seminary. The issue made headlines at Inside Higher Ed and is all over the blogosphere. I’ve been friends with Rollston since 1997 and our days together as grad students at Johns Hopkins. He’s become an incredibly well-respected scholar. I hope that he is able to survive this. For more on the controversy, see these links:
Inside Higher Ed article
Public letter from Professor P. Kyle McCarter, William Foxwell Albright Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University (please see this letter for ways in which you can support Rollston)
Blog post with many of the relevant details (written by a former student at Emmanuel)
Blog post in support of Rollston
This is a rather delayed post, but it’s been on my mind since I saw Marco Rubio’s speech at the Republican National Convention this past August. Here’s an excerpt:
America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights. That power belongs to the people. That government exists to protect our rights and serve our interests.
That we shouldn’t be trapped in the circumstances of our birth. That we should be free to go as far as our talents and work can take us.
We are special because we’ve been united not by a common race or ethnicity. We’re bound together by common values. That family is the most important institution in society. That almighty God is the source of all we have.
Special, because we’ve never made the mistake of believing that we are so smart that we can rely solely on our leaders or our government.
Our national motto is “In God we Trust,” reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.
What I found interesting is the implication that having faith in “God” is one way of asserting that power belongs to the people and not to the government or regime. The “most important” thing (“value” in his words) that binds Americans together, he seems to be saying, is “faith in our creator,” as opposed to patriotism or loyalty to the country. I’m not sure that he’s right about this (I was a little surprised when I heard him say it), but it made me think of an issue that still gets debated among biblical scholars.