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Monday, June 01, 2009

Special or General?

I refer of course to the SBL Forum piece Michael Bird with (q: what's the difference between 'with' and 'and' in a partnership?) Craig Keener and much discussed on blogs. I have nothing to add on what's best, who's wonderful etc but maybe I will add a different comment on, well, some concepts of 'general'.

The NT isn't very big really but it is made big, so to speak, by the sheer amount of scholarship and no doubt it will become increasingly difficult, or increasingly bigger, as more and more gets written. But is being an expert in Paul, Jesus, and something else in the NT very general in terms of primary source material studied? I just don't know and it will depend on definitions etc but it seems this debate could further place NT studies in a ghetto. I mean, couldn't we define a generalist as someone who could do interesting things beyond NT and couldn't a specialist be someone who could do things on Paul and Jesus. Well, it's all definition I suppose.

An analogy: Shakespeare studies. Are specialists those who focus on Hamlet while generalists can cover tragedies AND comedies AND poetry? No doubt there are plenty of experts on some very precise detail - there always are and I can appreciate that - but this analogy makes NT studies seem a little odd, at least to me. Though not having anything like enough experience of Shakespeare studies, I imagine there's loads written - there certainly was when I was when I was an undergraduate. But I have been at conferences where scholars can move from Shakespeare to Beckett to whatever without it at least seeming unusual.

Perhaps reception history could change these matters. If people want to look at themes and texts through the ages, then that would require something beyond mere specialism...right...?


Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

Become a theologian - they dream all day long.

June 02, 2009

Blogger Colin Toffelmire said...

Seems to me that one of the things that makes biblical studies so odd is its fascination with one particular group of texts. Your example of the Shakespeare scholar is a case in point. Such a scholar probably thinks of him/herself as some kind of literary critic who has a particular interest in Shakespeare. You hear a lot less about literary critics who have a particular interest in the Dtr History, or functional linguists who happen to work with ancient Hebrew. Many other academic disciplines seem to focus upon a methodological point (or points) of entry into the world, and apply that methodology to multiple sets of data. Biblical scholars start with a set of data and then apply a multiplicity of methodology to that data. Probably there are other disciplines that do this as well, but it is a little odd in any case.

June 02, 2009

Anonymous steph said...

All specialists are generalists as well if they're any good. People at the top intellectual end of churches are obviously generalists - like Burridge and Jim. :-)

June 05, 2009

Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

On 'and' and 'with':
'And' implies equal partners; 'with' implies that the first-named is the main player and the second a sidekick whose input was less. E.g.: Biblical Interpretation by Robert Morgan with John Barton (or is it the other way round?).

June 05, 2009

Blogger Jason said...

Well, whatever the case, I say you are generally special, James. If not especially general.

June 08, 2009

Blogger Jason said...

Oh, and sell Ronaldo for 100 mil pounds, buy Ribery and then some.

June 08, 2009

Blogger N T Wrong said...

Review Dale's new Jesus book. Go on.

June 09, 2009

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June 10, 2009

Anonymous The Penguin Press said...


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June 11, 2009

Blogger Geoff Hudson said...

And the original NT is very much smaller than the extant version, by the time you have taken out all the editorial, that is all that has been fabricated

June 23, 2009

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed Jones said,
For a rconsruction of "Christian" Origins which takes account of the anachronistic character of the term "Christian" while being representative of the thought of three of arguably our most authorotative criticcal historical theologians, take a look at: R. Joseph Hoffmann - wordpress. This is an archive of Hoffmann essays. Scroll to essay titled "Why the Historical Jesus is Important" - 6 Comments. Comments !&5Contain the Hoffmann letter. Disregard my Comments 2,3 and 4.they are reactions to a 4 day delay in publishing Comment 1.
It might just be worth your while.

June 30, 2009

Blogger Ed Jones said...

Ed Jones said:

Oops! Correction to my 7:10 PM Comment: The name of the Hoffmann essay should be: "The importance of the Historical Jesus".

September 20, 2009


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