Reflections on the May Biblical Studies Carnival

Biblical Studies Carnival (General)Claude Mariottini has posted the May Biblical Studies Carnival over at his website — I would encourage you to visit his post and check out the very best of the Biblioblogging world from this past month. I reproduce here some of Dr. Mariottini’s opening comments, which I reflect upon below.

The preparation of the May 2015 Biblical Studies Carnival was an opportunity to visit the blog site of people who write on biblical issues. As I prepared the selections for the May 2015 Carnival, I visited all the sites listed on the Complete List of Biblioblogs. What I discovered was not very encouraging.

I discovered that many people who write academic blogs have stopped writing or have posted very infrequently to their blogs. I have to confess that I could include myself in this last category of bloggers. Some bloggers who are prolific in posting to their blogs, post items that are only indirectly related to biblical studies. These bloggers may post items of interest to some people, but these posts do not provide an in-depth study of the biblical text.

There are several reasons bibliobloggers have stopped posting or have published only sporadically. One of the main reasons is that many bibliobloggers are professors who are heavily involved in teaching and researching. Academic life places heavy demands on professors. When the workload is heavy, something must go, and that something is blogging.

Another reason is that writing thought-provoking posts requires much reading and the kind of research that is needed to develop and write posts that are informative. That also requires time, the kind of time that academics lack.

To Blog or Not to BlogFirst, while I understand Mariottini’s impulse to lament the decreased quality of biblioblogging, I am not certain that the month of May offers the best example of quality writing. The general busyness of late-spring for academic bloggers — especially those teaching and/or graduate students finishing classes/exams — is not a new phenomenon this year, nor should it surprise us. Not that I would expect to be included in a normal Biblical Studies Carnival, but there was almost no chance my work would make it this time around for the very simple fact that I had to step away from blogging for a couple of weeks in order to work on comprehensive exams and finals. As Mariottini notes, rigorous and informative blogging takes time, which many academics are already pressed for before the crunch of finals season.

Second, I do think that Mariottini is at least partially right that many of what were “top” biblioblogs either post infrequently or concern themselves with things which are not immediately connected to the Biblical text. One example of this is Jim West’s Zwinglius Redivivus, long a staple in the biblioblogging world. Although Jim posts numerous times per day, many of his writings are either tangentially related to Biblical Studies or personal posts on a variety of issues.

Blogging Word CloudWhereas Mariottini seems to find such “non-biblical” posting discouraging, I don’t necessarily see it that way. Certainly, readers have to do more work filtering the content of what they engage from any given blog. But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Writing as someone who views himself as working in both Biblical Studies and Historical Theology, I tend to prefer blogs with a somewhat wide range of topics. Larry Hurtado’s Blog, for instance, categorized in some circles as a biblioblog, often deals with might fairly be called Early Christian Studies. Though I’m obviously biased by my own views on categorizing our field(s) (and my April Biblical Studies Carnival), it may be that the solution to decreased interest in biblioblogging is to increase the scope of our gaze. That is, it may be that “theo-blogging” (or some other, more thought through term) is where future academic online discourse is headed.

Regardless of where biblioblogging is headed in the future, I think another word from Mariottini offers the blogging community an important reminder:

All of us who blog and seek to inform and teach through our blogs are grateful to readers who read and react to our posts. Those who subscribe to our blogs encourage us to continue disseminating knowledge and information through our blogs.

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3 thoughts on “Reflections on the May Biblical Studies Carnival

  1. Pingback: Two Carnivals for the Price of One | Newman Research Centre for the Bible and its Reception

  2. Jacob,

    Thank you for your comments on my post about bibliobloggers. I would like to respond to your thoughtful reflections on the May Biblical Studies Carnival.

    First, the Biblical Studies Carnival tries to include not only posts dealing with the Old and New Testaments, but also with posts dealing with theology and church history. The problem that I (and maybe others) face is that I generally read posts dealing with the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Unless someone points me to posts dealing with church history or theology, I will not read goods posts dealing with those topics.

    Second, a carnival dealing with Biblical studies should not promote posts dealing with pastoral misconduct or other issues that are peripheral to biblical studies. The person hosting the Biblical Studies Carnival must be selective in what to include in the Carnival.

    Finally, the host of the Biblical Studies Carnival should use the complete list of bibliobloggers in making the selection of the posts to be included in the Carnival. I would like to encourage bloggers who want to be considered for the Carnival to make sure that their blogs are included in the list of bibliobloggers.

    Thank you for your nice words about the Carnival.

    Claude Mariottini

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