Nietzsche on Biblical Scholars

In my Whitley Lecture I argue that the church has a responsibility to listen to the ways that the Bible is interpreted outside of the church, both in the academy and the non-believing world.  So, as an example of what we might have to confront should we take this seriously, consider Friedrich Nietzsche’s opinion of biblical scholarship (summary: scholars and clergy are not very good at interpretation/philology):

How little Christianity educates the sense of honesty and justice can be gauged fairly well from the character of its scholars’ writings: they present their conjectures as boldly as if they were dogmas and a rarely in any honest perplexity of the interpretation of a passage in the Bible.  Again and again they say ‘I am right, for it is written -‘ and then follows an interpretation of such impudent arbitrariness that a philologist who hears it is caught between rage and laughter and asks himself: is it possible? Is this honourable? is it even decent? – How much dishonesty in this matter is still practised in Protestant pulpits, how grossly the preacher exploits the advantage that no one is going to interrupt him here, how the Bible is pummelled and punched and the art of reading badly is in all due form imparted to the people.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (trans R. J. Hollingdale; ed. M. Clark and B. Leiter; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), book 1, section 84.