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I'm seeing a huge number of questions that are really about biblical interpretation, and should be on the Biblical Hermeneutics site. Can we please start migrating them over as a matter of policy? Most of them are really nothing to do with the Christian faith.

Here are some examples:

  • 1
    Only 2 of these have close votes, if you think they are off topic for here why not close? – wax eagle Feb 22 '12 at 16:46
  • I was waiting to see if someone came up with a good reason why they should stay on Christianity. Since they haven't, I've now voted to close. – DJClayworth Feb 22 '12 at 16:49
  • All of these would be good questions for BH in my estimation and (with the possible exception of the Spirit question) little to do with Christianity. I've followed you example. – Jon Ericson Feb 22 '12 at 17:35
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    Actually, don't vote to close - flag for moderator attention and recommend migration. Hopefully if five people do that the moderators should be able to migrate with little work. – DJClayworth Feb 22 '12 at 17:38
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    (Pinging @hammar too.) Well, if a question is fit to be migrated, it probably doesn't belong here in the first place. C.SE is focused on doctrine whereas BH.SE is focused on exegesis. Thus, they should probably be closed anyway. In addition, having more flags doesn't make it easier to migrate; it just tells us what the community wants. – El'endia Starman Feb 22 '12 at 19:51
  • Question: If a question is migrated, what happens to the reputation if it gets voted on at BH.SE? – Affable Geek Feb 22 '12 at 21:44
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    @El'endiaStarman: Migration should usually only be done if a question is off topic on the source site, not just because it might be a better fit elsewhere. Still, I tend to flag right away, and then it's up to the mod to decide if he wants to wait for it to get closed first or not. (And by the way, pinging only works for people who have commented or edited on a post. My only comments were on your answer, so this ping was ineffective. I just happened to stroll by :)) – hammar Feb 22 '12 at 23:54
  • @AffableGeek: If you have an account on the target site which is linked with your account on the source site, any migrated posts of yours will be transferred to that account, and you will get reputation there. If not, nobody gets any rep. (Technically, I think the Community user (a bot with user id -1) gets the rep, since it owns any "unowned" posts in the system). – hammar Feb 22 '12 at 23:56
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No.

There is some scope overlap here and we have known about it for the entire time that BH has existed.

One of the distinctions in scope is in perspective BH is open to people from any perspective while we are only open to people from a Christian view point.

While that does mean that a doctrinal focus is encouraged and strongly preferred it also (hopefully) means that you are going to get an answer that actually lines up with your beliefs rather than an answer from a secular scholar or a textual critic.

If you want the answer from an expert on Hermeneutics (regardless of religious affiliation) go to BH. If you want it from a doctrinal perspective that lines up with your own come here.

I haven't evaluated every question you listed, but please remember that in general hermeneutics and exegesis are on topic both places.

  • So what is on-topic at BH that is off-topic at Christianity? If the answer is 'nothing' then BH should be shut down. – DJClayworth Feb 23 '12 at 18:24
  • None of the questions I linked to asked for a denominational perspective. So are you saying they should all be migrated? – DJClayworth Feb 23 '12 at 18:27
  • @DJClayworth I don't disagree with you in principal. Although the idea for BH is that they are more position nuetral. – wax eagle Feb 23 '12 at 18:29
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I'm imagining I'm a brand new user who has just posted his first question:

Spirit of the Lord Upon David

It's a really good question - it shows an understanding of the text and the doctrinal implications contained therein.

Next, a good solid user of the site (And I like you, DJ! I mean no offense by this rant) comes along and says, "This is really better suited to Biblical Hermeneutics."

Now, I'm confused.

Do you really want questions or not?

I mean, suppose this was a Starbucks instead, and someone comes in the door and says, "I love lattes. Can I have a latte?"

"Oh no," replies the barista, "we specialize in espresso here. If you want a latte, you need to really go across the street to that Caribou Coffee over there."

Really? You expect a new user to have pondered whether the thrust of her question is hermeneutical or doctrinal, and select accordingly? I mean, I realize there's no shame in having a question closed, but doesn't it leave a bad taste in your mouth?

I'm not interested in hashing out whether or not BH.SE and C.SE should be one or two sites - but especially as new users are trying us out, do we really want to be redirecting them so quickly?

If we can possibly give them the benefit of the doubt and just ANSWER THE DANG QUESTION IN PLACE, I think both sites would be the better for it.

The first principle of web design is simple:

Don't Make me think!

You're making me think way too hard.

The second principle is like unto it:

Don't annoy your customers

I'm really afraid this division is making us do both. Migrating clearly does.

I understand that BH.SE could use the traffic too. But if this was my first time on either site, and this was what I got, I guarantee you, it'd also be my last.

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    I think the absolute best advice I ever saw was in response to the Nahum-Joel question, in which @JonEricson simply said "If you don't get a great answer, try at B.SE too." That was the absolute best handling of it I've seen to date! – Affable Geek Feb 23 '12 at 13:37
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    Migration is actually very painless, and doesn't cause much thinking at all. If a question is migrated then a single link takes you to the new place. As I said elsewhere, migration happens in other places and doesn't seem to annoy people. – DJClayworth Feb 23 '12 at 19:14
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    BH isn't really hurting in my opinion. We have Ben and Jerry's-style growth which is fine. We aren't going to be a huge site no matter what happens. Christianity and Judaism.SE will always be our bigger, older siblings. – Jon Ericson Feb 23 '12 at 19:30
5

Abstract

Questions about the exegesis of a particular passage, especially Old Testament questions that don't have any particular Christian content, ought to be moved to Biblical Hermeneutics.

Both sites are doing well!

Christianity.SE hit a seminal moment yesterday: homework questions! Ok, they are a pain to deal with and I feel like I wasted time on someone who just wanted to pass a class without learning anything, but it means that someone out there thinks we provide good answers. Most likely, they found us through Google. I don't see any reason not to expect more people being attracted by (what I've come to appreciate as) our high level content. The other signs I can see look really good as well.

Hermeneutics.SE is also doing well, though we are a few months behind. This morning, I was encouraged by an answer (soon to be a comment) thanking us for the great answers on a question about Job. (I should note that I was the only person to participate in the question who has any meaningful participation in both sites.) Google seems to be picking up our content as well. Our "vital signs" are slowly improving and I'm confident that we will have steady (albeit slow) growth and excellent content for a long time. We could certainly use more questions and more expert participants, but we are going to be ok without any help.

Never the twain shall meet

While there is some overlap in subject (the questions listed above are, no doubt on topic), there are people who will never visit Christianity.SE because of theological and cultural reasons and vice versa. Our best exegetes on the Tanakh (Old Testament) are Jewish and have no reason to visit a Christian site. Others, such as myself, have been suspicious of the usefulness of this site. I have come around, but mostly because of experts who, in turn, are not likely to participate in the Hermeneutics site! If I want to read Peter Turner's answers on Christianity, I better come here.

Expecting people to come to Christianity.SE to answer Biblical Hermeneutics questions seems, um, selfish to me at this point. There are two sites where exegesis of the Bible (three if limited to the Hebrew Bible) are on-topic and unless one of them fails, there's nothing to be done about it. It's water under the bridge.

Moderation will get harder in the future

I'm on record saying that Christianity will be difficult to moderate. One of the reasons is that there are too many viewpoints on any particular question that claim to be "Christian". The more people who participate on the site, the more Christian perspectives there will be to mediate between. Now moving questions is no silver bullet to the problem, but I think it's a useful moderation tool. If you have a question that isn't asking for a Christian perspective, but just wants to know that the Bible means, it makes sense to move the question where it fits best. Of the questions listed above, only one even hints at Christian content. One of them makes clear that they don't want a doctrinal answer, but just to know what the passage means! If we don't move questions that have little-to-no Christian content, how can we expect people to not post off-topic questions in the future?

Don't tell me that any question about the Bible is on-topic here. Even Jesus is sometimes off topic. Of course, if a question asks for a Christian interpretation, then it is better to ask it here. But if the question is of the "What the heck does this mean?" variety, we are doing the asker a disservice by not pointing them to the best place to get an answer. This is doubly true if the question is about the Old Testament, since a Jewish answer will not thrive here any more than a Christian answer will thrive on the Jewish Life & Learning site.

Bottom line: if a question isn't about Christianity, it doesn't belong even if it included several "Christian" keywords.

3

Should we be migrating more questions to Biblical Hermeneutics? Probably not.

  • If someone is looking for a Christian perspective, this is the best place to find it, not on BH.SE. This is especially the case with the Hebrew Bible (which Christians refer to as the "Old" Testament), where Christians often see the New Testament as being interconnected and foreshadowed. This connection should be supported in an answer on BH.SE, while it is a given in Christian interpretation (I personally downvote any answer to a Hebrew Bible question on BH.SE that cites the NT without justifying its relevance).

  • If someone wants to know how the text applies to a contemporary faith community today, this is the best place to ask, not on BH.SE. Religious, theological/doctrinal, ethical and/or liturgical aspects of texts need to be handled as facets of the biblical texts studied by participants of BH.SE in historical, linguistic, and literary terms, and not as aspects of personal conviction, or the belief and praxis of historic and contemporary faith communities. This terminology and even this very approach of asking questions is often foreign to Christians who have never encountered the study of the Bible outside of religious settings (even worse, some Christians have been taught that this approach is wrong/liberal/secular/dangerous/a bad thing).

  • We don't share the same assumptions, and this can sometimes be unacceptable to religious adherents (both Christian and Jewish). We don't view the Bible as one continuous book, but rather as a collection of texts shared by the Judeo-Christian religious traditions. We don't assume that the text is true or accurate (conversely, we don't assume it is false or inaccurate, either). For those Christians who strictly hold to doctrines such as biblical infallibility and/or inerrancy, these sorts of perspectives can be quite unwelcome.

In most cases, it is probably best that you do not migrate something to BH.SE. If you do, please try to warn the user about some of the (significant) differences between our sites.

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You (DJClayworth) already know this, but I just wanted to make a note here.

Anyone with over 500 rep (which is currently 98 non-moderator members) can vote to close as off-topic and flag to migrate to Biblical Hermeneutics as shown in this picture:

enter image description here

Remember, it only takes 5 community votes to close a question, and we mods would prefer not to have to use our super-votes.

  • @DJClayworth: Correct. Until a site leaves beta, the only site on the migration shortlist is the per-site meta. When the site launches, one can discuss on meta which other sites (up to four) should be added to the list. – hammar Feb 22 '12 at 17:11
  • @El'endiaStarman: Looks good. Though closing it first isn't strictly required, I can see how mods may prefer to have more support from the community than just a single flag before migrating, at least in non-obvious cases. – hammar Feb 22 '12 at 18:22

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