It’s true, according to Bible scholar Joel Green, who argues that in order to be a good Bible scholar, one must be a devoted Christian.
The best biblical scholars genuinely love Scripture, and come to its pages ready to hear God’s address. They exhibit both a certain posture vis-à-vis the text and their own formation in relation to it, and a commitment to the hard work of reading Scripture that takes seriously the nature of the text.
The former involves the life of discipleship, of Christian formation, of worship, and of prayer. As I have written elsewhere: “Formed by our reading of Scripture, we become better readers of Scripture. This is not because we become better skilled at applying biblical principles. The practice of reading Scripture is not about learning how to mold the biblical message to contemporary lives and modern needs. Rather, the Scriptures yearn to reshape how we comprehend our lives and identify our greatest needs. We find in Scripture who we are and what we might become, so that we come to share its assessment of our situation, encounter its promise of restoration, and hear its challenge to serve God’s good news.”
Huh. I’d argue sort of the opposite. The challenge of being a good scholar is to maintain some objectivity and ability to assess one’s biases. Being a devout Christian doesn’t help studying the Bible as a historical document — it also doesn’t preclude it, although it does generate many subjective obstacles. It also makes you a crap scholar if you automatically dismiss the contributions of atheist, Muslim, and Jewish scholars.
So I can keep studying spiders after all! Yay!