Thinking more about Traditions and traditions

When I think about my scholarship and my teaching, I am realizing that I am a tradition-critic in every sense of the word. Yes I am fascinated at tracking and explaining the emergence and transmission of traditions, but I am also involved in understanding the development of The Christian Tradition, as it is reflected and safeguarded by the normative churches. So I am involved in both aspects of the study of (T)(t)radition.

This has led me to reflect upon another aspect of what my scholarship is about. Being in two religious studies departments over the last fifteen years, rather than theology or biblical departments, has made a difference for me. It has allowed me to grow in my critical examination and evaluation of The Tradition, rather than become immersed in a type of scholarship whose purpose (whether intentional or not) is to shore up and support The Tradition, to use biblical approaches to legitimate again the old normative story.

The more I reflect upon this, the more I realize that this is at the heart of the problem I see in biblical scholarship - whether or not we are willing to question The Tradition and its power of normation, whether we are willing or not to work the materials from the 'other' side, to see what is there and how what is there bears on the normative narrative and exegetical tradition that is centuries old.

My work is more than the retrieval of the 'other' side. It is an attempt to integrate the 'other' side into the story before and as the process of normation was underway. To do so means to cut into the story that The Tradition created, to see how it was put together in the fashion it was, and why. It has never been my experience that The Tradition is left intact. Yet, I have never felt that we are left with nothing. There is a new wholeness that emerges, although one that The Tradition may not (want) to recognize.