You cannot make this stuff up. Dr Paul Holloway, New Testament (NT) Prof at Sewanee has written a letter to his own university apoplectic that it is awarding an honorary degree to Prof N.T. Wright also known as Bishop Tom Wright. (H/T Creedal Christian).
I will let you read the letter yourself for the main objection he has to Wright's award (hint: it's socio-political-cultural). Though he protests that it is not his main objection ("But that is not my complaint here") it is an objection which, in my view, has more substance than what he then claims is his main objection. The substance, that is, of being an award by an institution committed to different values to Wright's so it never should have been made.
What is intriguing and/or amusing, is one professional NT scholar-whom-I-have-never-heard-of's assessment of N.T.Wright, a giant of 20th century and early 21st century NT scholarship.
"Wright’s receiving an honorary degree during my tenure is a professional embarrassment"
"My complaint is that Sewanee has recognized Wright as a scholar in my discipline, when in fact he is little more than a book-a-year apologist."
"Wright comes to the evidence not with honest questions but with ideologically generated answers that he seeks to defend."
"I know of no critical scholar in the field who trusts his work."
"He contradicts what I stand for professionally as well as the kind of hard-won intellectual integrity I hope to instill in my students. I feel like the professor of biology who has had to sit by and watch a Biblical creationist receive an honorary degree in science."
Then a sideswipe at St Andrew's University and Holloway's fellow Americans:
"Wright has since retired as bishop and found a job at an under-funded Scottish university anxious to attract young full-fee-paying American Evangelical men questing for old-world cultural capital."
The academically most objectionable statement here, and also the silliest, is "I know of no critical scholar in the field who trusts his work." Let me count the ways to object to this statement:
1. There are in fact plenty of scholars who 'trust' Wright in the sense that they follow him as one of the leading exponents of the New Perspective on Paul. Holloway surely is not saying that he will deem them to be scholars but not 'critical' scholars?
2. The very point of 'critical scholarship' in the sense of examining every proposition for weakness and frailty if not fallibility is that no critical scholars trusts any scholar because a critical scholar critiques every view he or she comes across. What sounds like a damning criticism of one scholar applies (or should apply) to every scholar. Perhaps Sewanee should award no honorary degrees to anyone, if these are the grounds for assessing scholarly merit?
3. The phrase 'trusts his work' implies some body of sound research which one may trust without further examination. But that kind of research is not Wright's mode of scholarship. That kind of research is (say) about here are some ancient papyri and here is my translation of them, or here are the results of my archaeological dig in the middle of the desert and from the kinds of pottery shards and coins present I propose the following conclusions. What Wright (mostly) does is take an overview of the scholarship of the NT, as well as digging deeply as an exegete into the detail of the text, and make proposals about some feature or another. Neither a papyrist nor a shardist is he. Thus his books argue for this about the resurrection and that about justification. He does not ask anyone to trust his work but to examine (critically!) his arguments. Actually, plenty of critics do examine his arguments. Some find them wanting, some find them mostly persuasive, few (in my experience) completely agree with him which is, er, what happens in, er, critical scholarship. The previous sentence applies to other giants of biblical scholarship such as Bultmann, Brueggeman, Childs and Dunn.
4. It is very surprising that Holloway misses the point of Wright's role in NT scholarship which is to generate fresh discussion of familiar texts. Wright's singular achievement is to make us think again - critically! - about what we read in the NT. Looking at Holloway's professional career I don't think that is going to be said about him! His output is of a different kind, and that is fine. But fifty year's from now students will still be examining Wright's writings for their doctoral theses and Holloway's works - like most NT scholars that ever lived - will be in a dusty corner of the library.
5. One should be a careful kettle when calling the pot black. Holloway is the author of "Coping with Prejudice: 1 Peter in Social Psychological Perspective (Tübingen, 2009)." Now without reading the book, the title scarcely strikes me as a book that critical scholars are going to 'trust' as some kind of last word on social psychological perspective on 1 Peter. Social psychological work on NT letters is a new-ish field: surely critical scholars will read this book with the critical part of their mental faculties switched on rather than the trust part.
In the meantime, I expect the Sewanee authorities are rather pleased with this letter as it demonstrates a number of reasons why budding NT scholars will want to choose Sewanee over faux underfunded universities such as St Andrew's.