James Kugel and Wellhausen’s Resignation
Curious Jew has posted notes from of a very interesting talk giving by Prof. James Kugel at YU. (Also linked to here.) While the title of the talk was “Midrash Before Hazal: Why It’s Important For Orthodox Jews,” Kugel touches upon a number of other topics. During his talk, Kugel mentions that Julius Wellhausen resigned from his faculty position at a Protestant seminary over the conflict that he saw between what he was teaching his students and his having to train them to be Protestant clergy.
I became a theologian because the scientific treatment of the Bible interested me; only gradually did I come to understand that a professor of theology also has the practical task of preparing the students for service in the Protestant Church, and that I am not adequate to this practical task, but that instead despite all caution on my own part I make my hearers unfit for their office. Since then my theological professorship has been weighing heavily on my conscience.
See here for the source of the quote and more details about this episode in Wellhausen’s life. I think that Wellhausen’s doubts and trepidations are shared by many who practice the critical study of religious texts while still believing in their canonical and religious status. A bit awkwardly formulated, but I think that you get the idea.