Part 7: Doug Chaplin's further reflections

Doug Chaplin has put up a lengthy response on his blog here. I copy here only a small bit which I want to say something about.

Doug Chaplin says:

It seems to me, however much I value historical scholarship, that it is never divorced from the concerns, reconstructions, arguments and possibilities of the present. Nor unlike some, would I collapse it into those concerns. (See my post here) Being open to the way in which one’s scholarship will be used, is itself an important question. I think it slightly disingenuous in a historically gullible, controversy and novelty seeking, media-led culture to suggest that the question of “alternative interpretations of Christ” is controlled either by church leaders, or their flock.

It is the use, not the study, of these texts, as I have said before, which causes me unease. But I don’t think that those who study them can, or should, do so, without due consideration for how they can be used, and be sure that they are being entirely clear about what they are, and are not saying. It is because of that, that I particularly welcome the clarity and helpfulness of this series of posts.

To say that it is the media and not the church that has responded negatively to "alternative interpretations of Christ" is neither disingenuous nor gullible. If the churches were to take these alternatives seriously rather than treat them as heresy or strange ideas, we would see a very different value placed on these texts. I don't know what church world you live in Doug, but my own experience and the experiences of those Christians I have had contact with have taught me loud and clear that the churches today do not take seriously alternative interpretations based on non-canonical gospels. In fact, they do not even acknowledge them as "alternatives." And this has played out in academic circles - certainly not for every scholar, but for the majority of the Academy.

It may be important to you to worry about how historical studies of the non-canonical texts are used by others, but it is not to me. I have absolutely no control over what people do or don't do with my work, and I would never adjust my work to suit the tastes of those perceived audiences. If I were to do so, my work would lose all historical integrity. What I can control is that my work is as honest and accurate as I can manage given my skills and knowledge. What happens to it after that is out of my hands, and will not be a concern of mine.