bimargulies wrote a while back:

People who set up and operate interdenominational academic institutions have spent decades learning how to structure an environment that allows respectful collaboration on texts across the various lines. Yet it seems to me that some people here stubbornly insist that the hard-won lessons of those institutions are trivial, and that you can just invite anyone to type in any old thing and, by the magic of the internets, all will be well.

Later I wrote that All traditions are welcome on Biblical Hermeneutics. Davïd noted:

It is all too easy for "(hermeneutical) tradition" to be a smoke screen for "spouting ungrounded nonsense".

Just today, I finally put the pieces together. Does the site welcome the academic tradition or does it privilege it? If an anti-academic hermeneutic comes along, what should we do?

The answer, I think, is that we walk a thin line between encouraging more academic answers and letting people represent their, sometimes anti-academic, hermeneutical traditions. George Bernard Shaw wrote (rather unfairly):

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.

Stack Exchange's strength as a teaching tool is that it turns that adage on its head:

Those who can, teach by doing.

We use tools such as questions, answers, voting, comments, edits, and even closing questions to help people understand the topic at hand. Teaching is the prime directive of the academic tradition. If you ever find yourself using those tools do something besides teaching, I submit that you are doing the subject of this site a disservice. If you find that someone else on the site is not learning though other methods, the best and kindest thing you can do to help them is to downvote their unhelpful posts.

Stack Exchange builds on the academic tradition of peer review. For better or worse, most of the people on this site have not been trained by academic institutions as expositors of the Bible, philosophers of Hermeneutics, or interfaith dialog. If you have been, I encourage you to teach the rest of us.

1 Answer 1


I agree, as a teacher, George Bernard Shaw has a lot to answer for with that saying. But, I agree with SE's twist of it.

In particular, this site does that very well - with just about all questions answered, often multiple times, shows that we are all, in our unique and awesome ways, are teachers. The answers I have received from everyone (and yes, I mean - everyone) have got my mind churning away, thinking, joining the dots so to speak - that is what I love! Peer review is something I value very highly.

Sure, there are still some disagreements and confusion, but the site is relatively new and we are all, as a community, finding our feet.

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