Homogeneity in the Name of Diversity

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A new commentary series is starting, focusing on Pentecostal contributions to biblical studies. Judging by the writeup, one of the primary motivations for this series is to increase diversity among biblical commentators. The publisher is known for seeing diversity as a goal. Another series they're working on has to do with feminist perspectives in biblical studies. Pentecostal perspectives aren't frequent among biblical commentators. Gordon Fee is well known as one of the best commentators of the late 20th century. Wayne Grudem is well-known among evangelicals, though he's a Reformed Vineyard charismatic and has some differences with mainstream Pentecostalism (as does Fee). Also, the writeup mentions that 71% of Pentecostals are non-white, so if you assume that the biblical scholars among Pentecostalism are likely also to be non-white, then you get more diversity ethnically (though I suspect the assumption is quite false). There is something to seeing this as increasing the diversity of perspectives of biblical commentaries, anyway.

One thing about this just seems completely counterproductive. If the goal is diversity of perspectives, why have a series devoted to one perspective? It's a perspective not well represented in other series, so it increases the overall diversity of commentaries, but it places them all in one series. This could divert some of the better commentators who will write in this series from working with the main series out there, assuming there are any good enough to get such work (which I just don't know, since I haven't seen a list of the contributors to this series). Broadman and Holman did something similar with their New American Commentary series, some of the volumes of which are excellent, but it's mostly a Baptist series, and others don't give it the attention it deserves that they might give to some of the volumes if they'd been in other, more mainstream, series. In that case, though, part of the motivation had been simply to get some more recent conservative commentaries on some books that don't have recent conservative commentaries, and I'm glad for that. There's much less of a need for that, so I don't think this series has any such role to fill. Altogether, I'm not sure if this is a good idea, since it at least seems partially counterproductive to do this in the name of diversity.

1 Comments

Ah, let 'em have their commentary series. They need the practice :)

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