Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An unexpected benefit of the academic minor leagues …

I'm presently working on a dissertation, but since my kids need to eat and my spouse and I need to pay bills, I find myself in the time-honored role of faculty adjunct. It's just the way of the system, and I think that the requirement to demonstrate one's development as a scholar do make a lot of sense. If I somehow navigate the pitfalls of the teetering education industry and I'm able to grow into a tenured position, I think that I'd like the role.

The paycheck aspect of tenure would be great, but the support for personal development is the part that looks really cool. You actually get time, funding, and office space to keep working on your development. The only drawback is that you can get tethered to a particular environment.

Biblical Studies are a bit quirky in that the history of interaction with the Bible is marked by the conflicting claims of ownership of the Bible by various communities (including the community of critical scholarship). Part of tenure usually involves the implicit identification with a particular interpretive community. While such communal identification can be effective in getting a job, it does come at the potential cost of blindness to certain aspects of the Bible.

Having been an adjunct at both a state school and now at a confessional school, I find that both environments have been helpful to me in spotting the remainder of the text that is left unaddressed in any particular interpretive approach to the Bible. For me, the push and pull of teaching and interacting with students of diverse heritage and commitments has been deeply helpful, and I don't think that I could have received that benefit in a simple thought experiment. I've found that I have to be a part of a certain community for a while to see the strengths inherent to that community's interpretive approach.

I started this whole education odyssey because I wanted to learn how to read the Bible better. Adjunct teaching in various environments has been helping me do that. If I ever do make the big leagues and get tenure someplace, I think I might miss some things about adjunct work.


  1. thank you for posting. this is encouraging to me.

  2. My silent partner speaks! Thanks for holding up your end of the blogosphere.

    Seriously though, good point about how each interpretive community has blind spots. That's something we should all keep in mind as we read and interpret the Bible.

  3. Surely I'm not your only visitor?

  4. Actually, this is the 5th most viewed individual post page at this blog at the moment. Just a very small percentage of visitors actually comment.