Monday, June 20, 2016

Oh dear.

So, I have been grossly negligent of this blog, and I'm sorry. Suffice it to say that the past two years have been really brutal, but I am finally getting back to a reasonable level of productivity, and I hope to have some proper content in the near future.

In the mean time, it looks like the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" has officially blown up, which comes a shock to exactly no-one who was following the story closely. What's interesting about the story to me is not that it was a forgery, but that the forgery was detected through various blogs and online discussions long before the slow-turning wheels of academic publication and traditional peer review were able to process it. This is in part the result of the existence of the fragment being announced to the mainstream press years before Karen King's HTL article would see print.

Which, I guess, is how scholarship gets done these days. There is a such a pressure to come up with something sensational enough to grab the general public's attention that even excellent scholars like Dr. King can jump the gun.

I recently had the experience of having an academic publisher tell me that my research was too "arcane" to be "economically viable." I was recounting this experience to some random guy during karaoke at my favorite Doctor Who-themed bar last night, and his response was "Well, why don't you research something more economically viable?" And this case is a good example of why not: when you take your eyes off the goal of honest, critical scholarship and start worrying about selling books or pulling in grants or boosting the prestige of your department, there will always be a temptation to turn a blind eye to anything that might get in the way of the narrative you're trying to sell.

But what do I know? All the self-righteous integrity in the world won't benefit me or the discipline if my stuff is never published.