In a previous post, Media Trends and the Future of Biblical Scholarship, I suggest that “advances in technology can become crutches which lead to the atrophy of intellectual muscle.” While I think such ‘atrophy’ is possible, I don’t think it is inevitable. In any case, the old school had something I admire. They possessed something I have yet to acquire (…yet!). They enjoyed a depth of knowledge, an intimacy with the texts they handled and the printed pages which passed through their hands.
Technology is Changing
A few recent posts reveal that the way research is done is changing (as it has been the last two decades): Brill has made the Berichtigungsliste der Griechisen Papyruskunden aus Ägypten available on CD-ROM, and “a database version of the Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments (ed. Kurt Aland) will be published on-line soon, perhaps by the end of September.” Further, bibliobloggers are now affiliated with SBL!
Moving Forward with Caution
I welcome the changes, but not without caution. As technology advances and scholarship moves forward, I hope we don’t lose that special quality of depth found in the old school. I have software which searches through thousands of lines of text in seconds rather than the hours of work it would have taken a previous generation. Even so, the old school at its best could do reasonably quick searches using their mental faculties alone! They were familiar with texts. My goal is to marry the best of both worlds together: authentic intimacy with the texts with all the technological tools to carry out advanced research in a timely fashion. Is it possible?