Are Biblioblogs Dying?

Hebrew Bible
On March 15, 2014, Brian LePort at Near Emmaus wrote a post in which he asked: “Are Biblioblogs Dying?”

Biblioblogs are blogs dedicated to the study of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Some of these blogs also deal with theology, church history, archaeology, and other issues related to biblical studies. A complete list of bibliobloggers appears here.

Brian gives several reasons for the decline of biblioblogging. Below are the seven reasons Brian listed for this decline (in some cases I have abbreviated some of the comments made by Brian):

First, more experts have begun to blog, so the Average Joe seems disinteresting now.

Second, people may be tired of the snippets of biblical studies and theology that come from blogs aiming to return to books and older media (or, the opposite is true: our attention spans aren’t even long enough for blogs now).

Third, some blogs are specialty blogs that leave no reason to surf around several blogs to find something interesting.

Fourth, many biblioblogs weren’t about biblical studies most of the time, they were about politics, social mores, and other tabloid-like news.

Fifth, people have wearied of the type of interaction offered by commenting on a blog (personally, I’d rather discuss a contentious topic with someone over a cup of coffee in person than in the anonymous, stealthy underworld of most blog comments sections).

Sixth, blogs have become acceptable, institutionalized, AAR/SBL friendly, which has eliminated their role as alternative, anti-institution, gatekeeper free entities.

Seventh, I’ve seen people being drawn to more contained discussions. . . . These blogs are hosting the discussions that interest particular communities and tie them together.

Brian wrote that “a small decline in traffic and a more apparent decline in interactions” may be evidence that people are losing interest in biblioblogs. In fact, those of us who have been blogging for a few years now, have seen the demise or near demise of several blogs dedicated to biblical studies.

I agree with Brian’s reasons for the decline of biblioblogs. In what follows I offer some of my observations on this problem and a few more reasons biblioblogs are in decline.

1. To write an educational blog takes time and requires a certain amount of research. Brian is correct: few posts published on blogs dedicated to biblical studies do not deal with biblical studies. Rather, most of the posts deal with political concerns, social issues, personal matters, and “other tabloid-like news.”

People who are interested in politics, social issues, and tabloid-like news can find these everywhere on the Internet. Good biblical studies and in-depth discussions of biblical issues are hard to come by and these are the things that people who have an interest in the Bible are looking for.

2. Most readers do not realize that there is a financial cost in maintaining a blog. Although the cost is small, it is possible that some people may not be able to afford the annual cost of maintaining the blog. Some people put adds on their blogs to generate income while others ask for donations to pay for the expenses of maintaining the blogs.

Most bloggers subsidize their own blogs. After all, most bibliobloggers are not there for the money, but for the desire to share knowledge and disseminate a deeper appreciation for the Bible.

3. The decline of some biblioblogs may be due to the lack of contact between bibliobloggers. Few biblioblogs link to other biblioblogs. If they do, they are very selective on which blogs are chosen to be included on their blogroll. At the beginning of the movement, when there was a need to advertise one’s blog, bibliobloggers linked their blogs to blogs dealing with biblical studies. This is not happening anymore and as a result, many biblioblogs remain unknown to many people.

Most bibliobloggers today do not have a blogroll. As a result, readers are not encouraged to visit other biblioblogs and this keeps them unaware of other biblioblogs that publish great posts on biblical studies.

It was also common for bibliobloggers to post comments on other blogs. This dialogue between bloggers opened the doors to posts dealing with similar issues. I believe the lack of contact between bibliobloggers may be one of the reasons for the decline of biblioblogging.

On a personal note, I published my first post on August 16, 2005. I began blogging at the encouragement of my son, J.R. He challenged me to share with others my knowledge and love for the Old Testament. My son was my first webmaster and he helped me with some technical issues.

From the beginning, my blog has been dedicated to offer a Christian perspective on the Old Testament and current events. Most of my posts deal with Old Testament topics and archaeology. I also deal with current events, but only when they are related to the Old Testament.

I seldom deal with personal matters and when I do, I still try to relate them to the Old Testament. For instance, when my mother-in-law died, I used the occasion to do a study of Psalm 116:15 and the death of Christians. At other times, such as when I posted on Pi Day, I try to express my interest in things outside the Old Testament.

As a result, I have seen an increase in traffic on my blog. If one looks at the number of people who are following my blog, the number in increasing almost every day. In fact, last month alone, my blog received visitors from more than 100 different countries.

Readers are still interested in biblioblogs. But they are interested in blogs which will teach them more about the Bible and will challenge them to become better students of the Bible.

I do not claim that my blog is the best on the Internet or that I am the best writer among the hundreds of people who write blogs about the Bible. What I offer is a passion for the Old Testament. It is out of this love for the Old Testament that I write about the Old Testament.

People may not agree with everything I write, but those people who read my blog regularly will always be challenged to look at the Old Testament from a different perspective and in the process, they will be challenged to go back to the Old Testament and discover its rich content and its historical and theological teaching.

As long as writers offer strong content on their posts, people will read these good posts and will come back for more. I believe biblioblogging will not die anytime soon. If biblioblogs die, it is because of our failure to provide the kind of content and energy biblioblogs need to keep them alive and popular.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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12 Responses to Are Biblioblogs Dying?

  1. jdhomie says:

    Thank you for a well-written and thoughtful post. That last paragraph especially rings true for me.

    Like

    • JD,

      Thank you for your comment. You are right: blog writers need to provide better content to what they write so readers will be challenged to come back and read more.

      I just became acquainted with your blog. I will read some of your posts on the Hebrew Bible. They seems very informative.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

  2. bobmacdonald says:

    Judging from what I have noted on my carnival this month – there is no shortage of material – I have about 175 links so far. Mind you, I am known for big carnivals – though I am picky at times. As an aside, I wonder if you are aware as an OT scholar of the musical meaning of the te’amim? Specifically I have encoded Suzanne Haik-Vantoura’s inductive rules into a computer program, and I can produce a score (using music XML) in a few moments from any passage in the Leningrad codex. I think this is exciting – it proves that the ancient writers were as careful and as predictable with their coding as a modern programmer. I would like to see this popularized – for an example (of hundreds that I have created in the last 6 weeks here), please visit my very-focused Biblical studies blog.

    Like

    • Bob,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I am happy to know that you are hosting the March Biblical Carnival. I may send you a link or two for your consideration.

      I am not very familiar with Hebrew music. If a remember correctly, the Hebrew word ta’amin refers to the musical notes that are used in the synagogue for the cantillation of the Torah. Here is an article that may help you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantillation

      I visited your blog today and read some of your posts. I will visit your blog regularly to read some of your posts.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

  3. Brian LePort says:

    I find that you’re added observations compliment my list quite well. I do think that one of the things that sustained biblioblogs was the community created by bibliobloggers which seems to be fading away now.

    Like

    • Brian,

      I agree with your comment. It is sad that bibliobloggers choose to go alone. The community of bibliobloggers that existed at the beginning (if it ever existed) is no more. Bibliobloggers seldom relate to each other. I think this lack of community is what is causing the problems you mentioned in you post.

      Thank you for initiating this conversation.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

  4. I would value your personal opinion of my blog if you wish to comment.

    Regards and good will blogging.

    Like

    • Rudy,

      I will be glad to look at your blog and offer my evaluation. I will be in meetings all day today, but as soon as I can, I will read your posts.

      Thank you for visiting my blog.

      Claude Mariottini

      Like

  5. Pingback: Are biblioblogs dying? Don’t write the obituary yet! | NEAR EMMAUS

  6. Pingback: Two Carnivals for the Price of One | Newman Research Centre for the Bible and its Reception

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