The problem of secularist rhetoric
It is in theory not about ‘objectivity’. That is commonly said to be beyond us and no secularist I am aware of wants to appear openly as ‘positivistic’.
If this was all just about a group going into a huddle, then hell, I agree with you, let them. But it is not. What do we make of DeConick’s claim about the ‘impossibility’ of doing historical criticism as a believer? Surely the claim about the new list – taken in the same vein - is that only the list is doing serious ‘possible’ work. Others cannot even begin to approach their clarity. And it is here that that old chestnut ‘objectivity’ rears its ugly head. Whatever the claim to the contrary, a hint of positivism then emerges that is rather distasteful to me. No doubt we could ignore them because it is not what we are interested in anyway (as you say). But Christianity has a historical core that will always draw our attention. Can we really withdraw totally from that discussion? I don’t think so. And that is why I object to DeConick’s project.
As I’ve said elsewhere, I do not think dividing academia up is a very useful way to go. The philosophical underpinnings of all this are science-based and pretty dodgy. Positivism is long dead and we should stop bowing down to it. We need to take each other seriously in other ways now, and not try to rule each other out on the basis of some increasingly questionable ideology. I can see why DeConick is embarrassed to meet historians who won’t take her seriously. But frankly, I think that is primarily their problem and not hers.