Theology, History, and Literature
The strength of Old and New Testament studies in university departments that are not oriented to religious interests is evident from some of the best recent work in these disciplines. Neither historical nor social scientific research on the Bible actually requires theological interests. These are often present, but are to be found in the aims of some interpreters, not in the methods used. The Bible is a religious object and contains religious material, but there is a difference between studying other people's religion (including their theology) by historical, sociological, or philosophical methods and actually doing theology, i.e. developing one's own theology.
The distinction is obscured by the phrase 'studying theology', which can mean either studying other people's theologies or doing one's own. The ambiguity runs deep, because doing theology today includes describing and analysing, as well as developing, a tradition, and also because in universities most people learn to do theology, i.e. reflect critically on religious faith, by studying other people doing it. It is therefore not easy to detect the transition from studying religion to doing theology, though for some it is like being in an aircraft taking off--the change from grinding along the runway to a still sense of the reality of what it is all about.
In other contexts the experience of God, or wonder, or being religious, precedes rational reflection. It is hard from the perspective of such an experiential theology to see much point in the biblical scholars' concern for minutiae, and it is easy to resent the kind of exercises that a formal theological education imposes upon candidates for ministry in the Church. There is nothing more boring than learning answers to questions one is not asking.