Boyarin Boring?

Not that I find his work or lectures boring, quite the opposite. But at Columbia a student recently chastised her peers. The lecture, “Dethroning the Son of Man: Daniel and the Antiquity of Christianity,” was mandatory for Columbia College members but the early hours seemed to get to them.

Take a Seat | Columbia Spectator

I have never encountered such blatant disrespect. Not only were students talking and sleeping during the lecture, but many students left with no concern for how much noise they made on their way out. No one expected everyone to stay in their seats, or at least I did not, but for groups of students to walk out mid-lecture is inappropriate. What is the value of a liberal arts education, and classes like CC that discuss justice and moral values, if we do not appreciate the ideas and try to uphold them?

It is nice to hear an undergrad appreciate the importance of these opportunities and the propriety that should accompany them. She did, however, offer her own critique.

Many students -including myself- voiced the opinion that this lecture was an inappropriate choice for a CC-wide event. It is hard to deny that the lecturer was very knowledgeable on the subject, and anyone who stayed long enough to ask questions or hear answers saw the breadth of his knowledge. Yet his use of Hebrew and Aramaic phrases throughout his speech, without sufficient explanation of the sources and characters that he was citing, made it hard for anyone without his background to follow. Even more than that, it was unclear what his academic analysis of the concept -son of man- and how it relates to Judaism had to do with a discussion of law in the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament.

It is a good reminder to us to know our audience and give a talk that is appropriate to it.

(Via The Columbia Spectator.)

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