Author(s): James Barr
Much of the Christianity which flourishes best today has ""conservative"" or ""fundamentalist"" characteristics, that is, strong emphasis on the correctness of the Bible, hostility to the methods of modern critical theology and an assurance that those who choose to differ are not really ""true Christians"" at all. In this penetrating critique Professor Barr first argues that the nature of fundamentalism is often misunderstood and that the general understanding of the way in which biblical conservatism works needs to be improved and corrected. Secondly, however, he seeks to dissuade those who are attracted by it, arguing that the conservative position is not only incoherent as a scholarly position but thoroughly in contradiction, theologically, with the central logic of Christian faith. Biblical scholarship and theology, he believes, have much to learn from the discussion. While it is right to repudiate a fundamentalist approach, the reasons advanced for this rejection have often been unsound, and these unsound arguments have damaged both modern biblical criticism and modern theology. Both conservative evangelical and more liberal scholars are likely to study what he has to say with unusual avidity. James Barr was Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, where he taught for ten years. His illustrious teaching career has also included professorships at Edinburgh University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Manchester University, and Oxford University. He has held visiting professorships and delivered major lecture series in Europe, the United States, Africa, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand, and was longtime editor of the Journal of Semitic Studies.