Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Indexing for a world class scholar

Two students here at IWU recently worked with me to do the author and sources indexes for James Dunn's forthcoming third volume in his Christianity in the Making series. This book is going to be fantastic!

First, insert my usual grumbling that the average New Testament scholar these days doesn't measure up to the historical knowledge of previous generations. As universities shut down their biblical studies programs, as theological interpretation rules the day, as ideological pockets of Christianity multiply their Bible training programs and democratize its meaning, hard core historical interpretation increasingly becomes the province of a small cadre of largely irrelevant scholars. This trend won't hurt the church much probably in the short term, although interpretation that doesn't keep at least an eye on the historical has a tendency to go off the rails (arguably what happened in the medieval Catholic church).

As I looked over all the historical sources that Dunn engages in this volume, I was reminded what you have to know truly to be a world class expert on the Bible. I leave this post with a small taste of the categories:
  • The books of the OT and the NT
  • The Apocrypha (Sirach, Wisdom, etc...)
  • Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (e.g., 1 Enoch, Aristeas, etc...)
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Philo and Josephus
  • Mishnah, Talmud, Rabbinic Literature
  • Apostolic Fathers (Clement, Ignatius, etc...)
  • Nag Hammadi and Gnostic Literature
  • New Testament Apocrypha (Acts of Paul, Apostolic Constitutions, etc...)
  • Early Christian Writers (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, etc...)
  • Early Greek and Roman Writers (Plato, Tacitus, etc...)
  • Papyri and Fragments (e.g., Oxyrhynchus papyri)
A good historical scholar of the New Testament will know what all these are and know the primary passages where they potentially intersect with the New Testament.


Himself said...

Thank you!
Denis O'Callaghan Ph.D., Th.D., D.Litt.

Jonathan H said...

Before I started my MA in biblical studies I read through Nijay Gupta's book on becoming a biblical scholar. He outlines several areas of study that all biblical scholars should learn. I've made it a checklist for my program -- unfortunately some of the areas you list above aren't in my program at all!