Of Professors and Madmen: Currents in Contemporary New Testament Scholarship -- By: Andreas J. Köstenberger
FM 23:2 (Spring 2006) p. 3
Of Professors and Madmen:
Currents in Contemporary New Testament Scholarship
Professor of New Testament
Director of Ph.D./Th.M. Studies
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587
*Faculty lecture delivered May 11, 2006, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.
Scholars are a strange breed. Many a scholar, it seems, is good for one thing, and one thing only: to write books, in many cases books that seem to make little difference in the way people live. A case in point is a fellow Ph.D. student of mine at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, who wrote his dissertation on improper prepositions in the Greek. What could possibly be gained by the study of Greek prepositions, and improper ones at that? I must confess that when my friend told me that this was his dissertation topic, I had never even heard of such a thing, and I was a doctoral student in New Testament. For reasons such as these William Faulkner, the famous novelist, was not too far off the mark when he once said that a writer’s obituary should read as follows: “He wrote the books, then he died.”1 Yet while scholars are much maligned (including in this very chapel, where most references to commentary writers in recent memory according to one unscientific survey have been negative), most of us would agree, and many a wife of a scholar would attest, that while it’s often hard to live with them, it would also be difficult to live without them. What would pastors do without commentaries, or Bible students without Bible study helps, study Bibles, and reference works? We may not always realize it, but we are indeed indebted to the work of text critics, Bible translators, Hebrew and Greek scholars, and many other laborers in the Lord’s scholarly vineyard. For this reason I am not ashamed to identify myself before you today, aware of the many negative stereotypes attached to this label, as a scholar, in my particular case a scholar specializing in the study of the New Testament.
My topic today is “Currents in Contemporary New Testament Scholarship.”2 For us scholars it is sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees, immersed as we are in teaching (and in some cases, administrative) responsibilities, participation in scholarly societies, and various scholarly projects of our own. However, sabbaticals come around only once every seven years, and I submit we should not wait that long to see our work in proper perspective. For many of you who are called to the
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