Tyler Schwaller

ThD student, Harvard Divinity School


At present, I have two published pieces of academic writing. One is within the concluding chapter, “Metalogue: From Theory to Practice,” of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s recent book Democratizing Biblical Studies: Toward an Emancipatory Educational Space (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009). As a practice of the radical, democratic pedagogy that Schüssler Fiorenza proposes, each member of the Harvard Divinity School seminar associated with the book composed reflections on the course and the vision of emancipatory education.

My final paper for the aforementioned seminar, “The Power of Paradigms: Critical Analysis of the Function of Authority in the Paradigms of Biblical Study” — having been discussed and edited in collaboration with Schüssler Fiorenza and the seminar participants — is also published on a website for the book.

  • The paper is available here:
  • Abstract: In Democratizing Biblical Studies, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza challenges biblical scholars to become publicly accountable and engaged. The bible’s role in shaping rhetoric employed by Christians in the public arena demands attention and careful examination lest its authority be employed toward oppressive ends. As a socially-responsible field, biblical studies can contribute critical tools for deconstructing and rethinking biblical authority. However, I argue that for scholars to engage biblical authority publicly, the field must critically examine the function of authority within each of its own paradigms. Unnamed, paradigmatic authority functions to eradicate opposing frameworks, maintaining the competitive ethos that Schüssler Fiorenza decries. Alternatively, reflecting upon authority as a means for understanding the assumptions of another makes possible dialogue on the basis of mutual recognition and competency rather than antagonism and misunderstanding. Such a reflexive field can better model and lend itself toward public collaboration in order to creatively address complex social-political-religious issues.
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