Taking a Break

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: amateurexegete@gmail.com.

10 thoughts on “Taking a Break

  1. Take the blog break brother. You deserve it. You are an amazingly dedicated person. I salute you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Giving up blogging and futile well-reasoned argument for Lent, eh? 😉
    Well, you’ll be missed. Have a good sabbatical!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing wrong with taking a break and stepping back to look at the big picture. But if I may bug you for a moment longer – I gather from this post that you prefer the view that the author of Luke-Acts knew Josephus’ works. Assuming I’m reading you correctly, what do you think is the resource which best explains that position?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are two works that I’d recommend. The first is Steve Mason’s ‘Josephus and the New Testament.’ The second, which I feel is more robust, is Richard Pervo’s ‘Dating Acts.’

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I sympathise and know exactly where you’re coming from. Gave up writing blogs myself some months ago for similar reasons. Now confine myself to occasional reads of other’s efforts……hope you find the will power to continue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. acircharo@gmail.com 27 Feb 2020 — 6:48 am

    Good, you deserve a rest. But take that respite content that you have the facts on your side. The other side has their “alternate facts,” i.e., material they have corrupted, distorted, twisted, and mangled, all to try and prove a point that an imaginary man lives up in the sky. They may as well be arguing for the existence of the Easter Bunny.

    You’ve brought clarity, insight, and scholarship an otherwise specious argument. The other side can bury themselves in their cognitive dissidence so they can continue to live in a world of make-believe. Which would you rather be?

    Enjoy your break!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are a great thinker/writer and have been a good friend to me. I wish you all the best in your break.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Alex. I appreciate that! I’m hoping a month off or so will give me some renewed desire to continue. We’ll see.


  7. Late to the game, but I will say that I have really enjoyed your AEV of Mark. Currently, my Greek class is also going through Mark, so your contributions and quotations of scholars is appreciated. As a word of encouragement, don’t feel compelled to respond to everyone who does bad scholarship (there are many). Rather, writing what you think you ought especially in regards to putting out well-researched scholarship should be your priority as that, I think, produces less despair and more motivation to produce more. All the best to you going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate that. And I’m certainly glad someone was reading my translation of Mark. Maybe I’ll start posting my translations of the next chapter 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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