Seven thousand words into writing a piece responding to the claims of a certain pop-apologist on the dating and authorship of the Acts of the Apostles and its relationship to the dating of the Synoptics and I had an epiphany that came in the form of scripture: “Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). With a copy of the works of Josephus to the left of my laptop and a few commentaries and monographs pulled up on my desktop, I came to realize that no matter what I wrote, no matter how many scholars I cite, and no matter how clear and coherent my points are, it is all vanity. Not simply in the sense of the grand cosmic drama where the universe and all its constituent parts (including us) end up dead, but at the level of the quotidian. No evangelical Christian or evangelical atheist is going to be compelled by my attempt at careful interpretation of biblical texts or understanding their place in history. As I’ve discovered time and again, no weapon of reason or exegesis formed against them can stand. I could cite the work of Joel Marcus or Margaret Mitchell or John Collins or Michael Coogan or Loveday Alexander or Patricia Walters or Mary Ann Beavis or any number of accomplished scholars to bring nuance to my arguments concerning the Gospels but they are worthless in comparison to a pop-apologist armed with J Warner Wallace or Lee Strobel or Josh McDowell. No matter how well read you are, there is always a pop-apologist armed with Evidence that Demands a Verdict who can take you down.
So, I’m taking a break. I’m not sure for how long: it could be a day, it could be a week, or it could be a year. But I think I need to just step back from writing to clear my head and see if this project is worth it. Writing takes time. It requires reading and lots of it. It requires figuring out what’s worth including and what isn’t. It requires looking at an argument and its usefulness as well as counterarguments that could be leveled against it. There is a lot to it, at least for me (and it’s possible I’m just doing it all wrong). And reading requires money and I’ve spent plenty on commentaries, monographs, etc.
A couple of years ago I quit blogging altogether only to happily return a month or so later. I’m hoping this happens again, that within a month or so I’m able to get back on the horse, so to speak. But right now, I’m burned out and really can’t see the point of it all. I think there are better equipped bloggers to tackle these issues and readers should consult them. More importantly, readers should read good scholarship and pick through the bibliographies of accomplished scholars.
And so, to both of my readers I say thank you and I hope to be back as soon as I feel ready and able. I’ll still be on Twitter and I can always be emailed: firstname.lastname@example.org.