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Scholarly Work and the “Blogosphere”

July 28, 2014

I’ve been puzzled in recent days by some readers whose comments suggest that they expect that sound scholarly analysis of serious historical questions can be conveyed persuasively in blog-postings and/or replies to comments.  There seems to be some notion that they shouldn’t have to read books and articles, plow through the data, etc.  So, they ask a question; I respond briefly and point them to some book or article for fuller and more adequate discussion; but then the responses sometimes suggest the folk posing the questions really can’t be bothered.  Yet they often seem to have firm opinions on the issues involved, challenging me to dislodge them to their satisfaction.  So, I think it’s well to try some clarification of things here.

Scholarly work intended to have an impact on the field isn’t done in blogging.  The amount of data, its complexity, the analysis and argumentation involved, and the engagement with the work of other scholars that forms an essential feature of scholarly work all require more space than a few hundred words of a blog-posting, or a few paragraphs of blog-comment.  So, it’s rather unrealistic (not to say bizarre) for some commenters to assume otherwise.

This particular blog site is intended to disseminate the basic results of scholarly work (particularly my own) to a wider public, directing anyone interested in further study to the publications where matters are discussed more fully.  Of course, I can’t expect that the “general public” will necessarily have read my publications or those of other scholars in my field.  This blog site, therefore, is intended to alert interested readers to developments and to the publications where they can follow up matters.

I get the impression now and then that some readers can’t be bothered to read these publications.  That’s their choice.  The puzzling thing is that some, nevertheless, have firm opinions on the issues involved, and want to engage them in blog conversations, but can’t be bothered to do any serious work of studying what’s been patiently and laboriously published by scholars who’ve devoted much time and effort to the matters.

So, to underscore the point here:  Blogging (at least this blog site) is for disseminating basic results of scholarly work, and alerting interested readers to publications where they can pursue matters further.  But if you do want to engage the issues, you’re just going to have to do some serious reading . . . in books, and articles, and in the original sources on which scholarly work is based.  The Internet and the “blogosphere” hasn’t really changed that.

(As some of the recent comments that have triggered this posting query matters about earliest Jesus-devotion, I’ll point to a previous posting in which I tried to summarize some of my own work over the last 25 years or so:  here.

 

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43 Comments
  1. “And we have NT manuscripts as early or even earlier than the Tosefta statements in question, and in NONE of them do we have any indication of the use of YHWH in references to God. So, whatever motivated the statements in Tosefta, it doesn’t seem to have been actual instances of NT writings with YHWH in Hebrew characters.”

    Yet those mss. use the nomina sacra, which we know wasn’t in the original writings. It was a later scribal practice. IMO, we simply can’t know based on the data currently available that some form of the divine name wasn’t in at least some Christian writings. We don’t know that it was and we don’t know that it wasn’t, but for me the fun is in laying out all the pieces of the puzzle and contemplating their potential import on the various and fascinating questions.

    As for the date of composition of the Tosefta, it’s true that it was a bit later, but I think it may be reasonable to assume that the stipulations regarding the treatment of the divine name in Christian writings wasn’t invented for the first time when the Tosefta was written. Rather, the Tosefta may simply formalize a tradition that was known about for considerable time.

    As you say, however, it may be time to end this thread. It’s been interesting and illuminating, and I want to thank you for interacting with me about this to the extent that you have.

    • Sean: Yes, the nomina sacra *forms* of the words are likely a secondary development (the origin of which I’ve proposed), but these are abbreviations of *those words*, not other words. You can’t use that argument. But, yes, PLEASE, let’s let it go. It’s tiresome to argue over pure speculation without any hard evidence for it.

  2. johntancockjt permalink

    Yes the key issues I am trying to get to the bottom of to answer this guy are. 1. Is there any evidence that yhwh or something similar was in the originals of the nt documents? 2. Would Jesus or the early Christians have read out Yahweh or something similar when reading the ot. 3. Is there any evidence that the use if nomina sacra psticularly ‘KS’ was hiding where previously the Tetragrammaton was in the text ? He Also states that no manuscripts until the third century used kurios they only used nomina sacra. , he sees this as evidence that yhwh was removed from the text .

    • There is no indication that anything but “kyrios” appeared in NT writings in references to YHWH (e.g., OT quotations). The NT writings clearly show that at a very early point (well before they were written) early Jesus-followers ascribed to Jesus devotional actions and claims that were otherwise reserved for God, seeing Jesus as given to share in the divine status and name.
      As for your final sentence I don’t know quite what you mean: manuscripts of what texts? Jewish ones or Christian ones? The “nomina sacra” are exclusively an early Christian scribal practice, on which see the chapter in my book, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins.

      • “Rather than speculate about why this or that Tosefta text says this or that about early Christian writings, how about simply examining early Christian manuscripts? If you do, you don’t find any NT writings with the tetragram written in Hebrew characters. Let’s do evidence-based inquiry and analysis.”

        Because, IMO, what was written in the Tosefta IS evidence of what was going on in relation to the divine name in written documents around the period when the NT writings were being copied and re-copied, etc. Given the emphasis placed on the divine name in the OT, and given the retention of the divine name in those documents up until the very time when the NT writings were being composed, the wholesale replacement of the divine name with surrogates in written documents becomes a rather fascinating historical event. Whatever taboos emerged over the utterance of the divine name, the Jewish scribes were faithful to retain it in written form. We know this high respect for the name still existed in Jesus’ day because some scribes actually wrote the name in Hebrew characters in an otherwise Greek language document. So what happened back then? Different proposals have been offered, and obviously some still feel that George Howard was on to something, while others would choose to ignore indirect evidence and base their conclusions primarily on what appears in the later mss.

        BTW, I haven’t suggested that the divine name appeared in the NT in Hebrew characters. I don’t know whether the name appeared in Christian writings in any form, and I don’t think anyone knows with certainty that it didn’t, either. It may have, and if it did then it may have appeared in the form that Tov considers representative of the earliest stage of the LXX transmission.

        In any case, if one grants the assumption that the Tosefta was referring to Christian writings — and there is some disagreement about this, but if one grants that assumption for the sake of argument — then I’m still curious why you think that anyone would have stipulated the cutting out of the divine names from those writings before burning them unless it occurred in at least some of them? It seems much more likely to me that there would have had to have been known instances of the appearance of the divine name in the referenced writings. You consider this speculation, which is fine, but consider it attempting to draw reasonable inferences from the available data.

      • Yes, well, Sean, all I urge is that we check our hypotheses with extant evidence. And we have NT manuscripts as early or even earlier than the Tosefta statements in question, and in NONE of them do we have any indication of the use of YHWH in references to God. So, whatever motivated the statements in Tosefta, it doesn’t seem to have been actual instances of NT writings with YHWH in Hebrew characters. I think this thread has now been exhausted.

  3. Thanks for this Larry! Required posting on every biblical studies blog!

  4. Larry, one can explore a subject very well with a blog. The writings attributed to Josephus is a good example. Also one can change it if necessary, unlike a book.

    Secondly, I find that many books written by academics are not worth the paper they are printed on.

    • Geoff: Yes, you can “explore” something in a blog, but it’s not suitable for trying to establish something sufficiently to make it accepted in critical scholarship. Oh, and if there are some scholarly books that are faulty, there is likely a whole lot more of amateurish, ill-informed-but-opinionated, and self-promoting ignorance on the Internet and in blog sites by people who’ve never established any basis for giving them the time of day.

  5. Greg Matthews permalink

    Good points. I for one am just happy that some scholars are willing to engage with the public via a blog!

  6. Donald Jacobs permalink

    What I have read:

    The first book of yours I read was “One God, One Lord”. I read it from cover to cover about 12 years ago, and have revisited various sections since. I enjoyed the book a lot, but I was a bit puzzled that it seemed to present various Jewish antecedents of “Jesus devotion” only to go on to insist that the phenomenon was in fact unprecedented.

    Next I read “Lord Jesus Christ”, not from cover to cover, but most of it, I would say about 80%. The bits I found interesting were about your view of the historiography from Boussett down to the new “conservative” (not your word!) scholars dominating today, and the bits about prayer, other devotional practices, nomina sacra, John’s gospel and the apostolic fathers. I found it interesting that you referenced Rodney Stark on the origins of religions, because he is another scholar whose many books I’ve mostly read.

    Then I read “At the Origins of Christian Worship” which was interesting, but covered the same stuff really, with a sort of devotional tone unlike your other books. Then I read online somewhere that you are a conservative Pentecostal Christian. But I knew you were quite liberal in some of your views (you don’t believe that Paul wrote the later Pauline letters for example), so the story isn’t as simple as that.

    By the time “How on Earth Did Jesus Become A God?” was due to be released I was a bit of a fan and I looked forward to getting a copy. The Amazon release date kept getting pushed back, and I asked in various shops (including, I recall, a devout Christian bookseller in Dundee who was somewhat scathing of the title) until I finally got a copy from Borders in Glasgow. I was a bit disappointed in this book in the end, because I was under the impression is would be a monograph but it actually consisted of discrete articles, some of which I had already read, not resulting in a sustained line of argumentation.

    Later I looked forward to the release of “Early Christian Artefacts” but waited for it to arrive from Amazon this time. This is probably the book I enjoyed most because it touched on topics I find most interesting, having years previously read C H Roberts, Robert Kraft, Skeat, Turner, Metzger and others on palaeography, nomina sacra, and codex: “Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt” was one of my favourite books.

    I bought your book “God in the New Testament” a couple of years ago but I’ve only skimmed through it so far. I also read small bits of your commentary on Mark in the library after you mentioned it on here. I never got around to reading your early book on textual criticism although I have thought it would be interesting to do so.

    I’ve also read around 20 of your articles in journals and edited books on various topics such as the nomina sacra, textual criticism, monotheism, Paul and so on.

    In the meantime other books I read that touch yours most directly include James Dunn’s book “Did the Early Christians Worship Jesus?” Which I thought was an effective rebuttal of some of your arguments. I read Maurice Casey’s “From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God” after noting your engagement with it and found his narrative compelling. And I read David Trobisch’s “First Edition of the New Testament” whose alternative explanation of the origin of the nomina sacra I enjoyed. More recently I read a number of books by James Crossley who situates your work within a general conservative trend in biblical and religious studies, which was a bit of an eye opener, as it explained some things I had wondered about ever since I first read “One God, One Lord”. I tried to read Kyrios Christos a few months ago when I saw the new edition with your introduction, but I found it too hard going.

    I arrived at this blog after having read a substantial proportion of your work already. I like your clear style of writing and your liberal use of footnotes so was glad to find this blog. By now I have read many of your core arguments restated in multiple books and articles, although there are new angles and topics from time to time.

    • Gee, Donald. You get a door-prize for being such a committed reader! I still find it annoying that you seem to need to attach labels to people (e.g., “conservative,” “liberal”, et alia), as I fail to see what it adds to understanding anything. If someone clearly presses a priori premises that don’t arise from data and require an ideological starting point, fair enough. But I’m not one of those, and I’m not aware that anyone has successfully argued that I am. In any case, continue reading!

      • Donald Jacobs permalink

        I have continued to read! Yesterday I went back and read some of “God in New Testament Theology” because it’s the one book of yours I’ve got that I haven’t read yet, and I encountered a point that I think reflects on blogosphere interaction.

        In the earlier post “Ehrman on Jesus: Amendments” I commented that in calling Jesus divine Ehrman appeared to be arguing that the earliest Christians believed in Jesus’ pre-existence rather than that he was “fully divine”. You replied:

        “I don’t know what you mean by fully divine. Is that like being “fully pregnant””?

        Yet on page 99 of “God in New Testament Theology” you use the phrase “fully divine” in countering Maurice Casey’s position, and in footnote 7 on page 129 you state:

        “”Fully” and “genuinely” divine here are my attempts to refer to the question of whether Jesus was treated as “divine” in the way that “God” is and not simply as a heavenly being such as an angel.”

        Which was precisely the sense in which I was using the term. So why chide a blogger for using a phrase exactly as you have done in a published work?

      • Donald: Sorry for the confusion. “Fully” divine is used on p. 99 reflecting Casey’s distinctions. It isn’t really my term. In the footnote I explain that so far as I’m concerned “fully” divine means being treated the way “God” is treated, and so I don’t find Casey’s distinctions valid.

    • I agree with professor Hurtado that “fully divine” and “fully God” are odd expressions. They remind me of American advertisers who regularly exclaim that some extra they offer is “absolutely free”. There isn’t any obvious difference between “free” and “absolutely free”, but such expressions create an emphasis that the seller’s hope will get people to buy.

      Unfortunately, such usage has become so popular that even highly-skilled Greek grammarians use them, e.g. the Netbible offers this (highly biased) translation of John 1:1c:

      “the Word was fully God”

  7. johntancockjt permalink

    I am in deep discussion with an educated Jehovah’s Witness ( they do exist!!). On the subject of ‘Jehovah’ in the nt. He is saying the nomina sacra are evidence that the divine name had been removed from the nt. Also that all early lxx mss contain yhwh in Hebrew characters and later ones have kurios this he says indicates the divine name was removed . Are you able to point me in the right direction of scholarly articles dealing with this stuff?? I love ur blog btw!!

    • Sounds like your JW friend reflects a theory put forth by George Howard: “The Name of God in the New Testament,” Biblical Archaeology Review 4, no. 1 (1978): 12-14, 56. His basic contentions were that (1) in earliest Greek “OT” manuscripts YHWH stood in Hebrew characters, and that only later was it rendered by “Kyrios”, and (2) that the nomina sacra commenced with abbreviation of “Kyrios”, which in turn led to some confusion, whereby the term was applied to Jesus as well as to God.
      He’s almost certainly wrong on the origins of the nomina sacra. See, e.g., my discussion in my book, The Earliest Christian Artifacts, 95-134. I support Colin Roberts’ proposal that it likely commenced with an abbreviation of “Iesous”.
      As for the earliest handling of the tetrammaton in Greek biblical manuscripts, several scholars have argued that it was initially translated as “Kyrios” and then in Roman times in a “re-Judaization” move, the practice began of writing it in Hebrew characters. See, e.g., the following:
      Albert Pietersma, “Kyrios or Tetragram: A Renewed Quest for the Original Septuagint,” in Studies in Honour of John W. Wevers on His Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. Albert Pietersma and Claude Cox (Mississauga: Benben Publishers, 1984), 85-101;
      James R. Royse, “Philo, Kyrios, and the Tetragrammaton,” The Studia Philonica Annual 3 (1991): 167-83;
      Martin Rösel, “Die Übersetzung der Gottesbezeichnungen in der Genesis-Septuaginta,” in Ernten, was man sät: Festschrift für Klaus Koch zu seinem 65. Geburtstag, ed. Dwight R. Daniels, Uwe Glessmer and Martin Rösel (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1991), 357-77.

      • It’s been some time since I researched this issue myself, but I remember reading somewhere that Emanuel Tov — a giant in the field of LXX studies — disagrees with Pietersma about the proposal that KURIOS was original, and, if memory serves, proposed that IAO may have been the original term used for the divine name in the LXX. I think you may have alluded to this here in a past blog entry, but you may have merely mentioned that some favor IAO rather than naming Tov directly.

        Do you know whether Tov has published anything in response to Martin Rösel?

      • I don’t recall any place I’ve read where Tov engaged Pietersma’s proposal. I’d welcome anyone supplying any such reference. I also don’t have a reference to any response to Rösel from Tov. That would be welcome too.

      • Donald Jacobs permalink

        Tov argues against Pietersma and for the originality of IAW in the LXX in his essay, ‘The Greek Biblical Texts from the Judean Desert’ in “The Bible as Book: The Transmission of the Greek Text” edited by Scot McKendrick and Orlath O’Sullivan (2003), in particular on pages 112 and 113. Tov is of course a massive scholar in LXX studies, so I think it’s fair to say Pietersma’s view is far from unchallenged.

      • Donald, Both Pietersma and Tov are “big beasts” in LXX studies and I wouldn’t want to get into a pee-ing contest with either one on the topic. But, to be clear, Tov’s disagreement with Pietersma is specifically over what may have stood originally in Greek biblical MSS. He supports Pietersma’s case that the use of Hebrew characters for YHWH in Greek biblical MSS is likely a secondary development.

      • “I don’t recall any place I’ve read where Tov engaged Pietersma’s proposal.”

        It came back to me that it was a Hebrew lecturer in Oslo who mentioned on b-greek that Emanuel Tov gave a lecture (Piertsma was present) and stated that Piertsma’s thesis is incorrect. Ironically, your name is mentioned as well:-) Here’s the link:

        http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/test-archives/html4/1998-09/27824.html

        As for Tov’s view that ΙΑΩ is original, I’m still trying to locate my own reference material about this, but Daniel McClellan mentions it here:

        https://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/%CE%B9%CE%B1%CF%89-in-the-septuagint/

      • I found one place where Emanuel Tov addresses Albert Piertsma’s thesis. On pages 20 and 21 of the article found at the link below, he favors Skehan’s view that ΙΑΩ “reflects the earliest attested stage in the history of the LXX translation” (p. 20) as being “more plausible” (p. 21).

        http://www.emanueltov.info/docs/papers/23.Greek.2008.pdf
        As a final point, I should clarify that when I say that Emanuel Tov rejects Albert Piertsma’s thesis, I’m referring specifically to Piertsma’s view that KURIOS was the original term used for the Divine Name in the LXX. Tov seems to agree with Piertsma that the presence of the Divine Name in either square Hebrew characters or paleo-Hebrew characters is a later practice.

        I finally found the reference from my own library, which is the same article to which I provided a link, but which appeared in “The Bible As Book: The Transmission of the Greek Text, edited by Scot McKendrick and Orlaith O’Sullivan, published by The British Library and Oak Knoll Press (2003), p. 97-122. I had trouble finding it because I was looking for a book by Emanuel Tov, rather than a multi-authored book.

        Even if Tov is correct this obviously wouldn’t prove that the Divine Name appeared in original NT writings, but I currently favor Tov’s view in any case.

      • Yes, thanks for that reference to the Tov essay, which I read some time ago, but had forgotten it. As you note, Tov’s specific disagreement with Pietersma is over what stood as the “original” form in YHWH was rendered into Greek MSS of the “OT”. Tov favours the view that it was IAO, but agrees with Pietersma that the use of Hebrew characters for YHWH in Greek MSS is a secondary development.
        In any case, it’s clear that by the lst century CE, “kyrios” was the “qere” (the oral enunciation of YHWH in Greek), whatever stood in the Greek biblical text.

      • “In any case, it’s clear that by the lst century CE, “kyrios” was the “qere” (the oral enunciation of YHWH in Greek), whatever stood in the Greek biblical text.”

        That seems to be the consensus view, yet some have argued that use of the divine name continued, at least to some extent, among Jews around Jesus’ time. For example, see:

        http://judaicaukrainica.ukma.edu.ua/ckfinder/userfiles/files/JU_2_2013_Vasileiadis.pdf

        BTW, the author seems to agree with George Howard that the divine name may have appeared in the original early Christian writings. I don’t know whether Howard and Vasileiadis are correct or not, but back when I researched these issues something occurred to me: If the divine name was included in early Christian writings (particularly NT quotations of OT material that contained the divine name), is it possible that the reason it was replaced with surrogates was purely pragmatic, i.e. to preserve the writings from the book-burning efforts that apparently took place back then?

        Vasileiadis and others have noted how Christian writings were confiscated, the divine names cut out and preserved, and the rest of the writings burned. Is it possible that the early Christians came to believe that by replacing the divine name (in whatever form) with KURIOS, their pious Jewish opposers might be less likely to feel motivated to burn the documents? As far as I know, I may be the only person this has occurred to, and I certainly don’t want to be seen as someone floating a hair-brained theory! I mention it only because it occurred to me and I’m not sure why it hasn’t apparently occurred to anyone else, at least that I know of.

      • Sean: Thanks for the reference to the article by Vasileiadis, which I hadn’t known about. It reflects an impressive amount of research, but the main point seems to be to trace how YHWH has been rendered down across ca. 2000 yrs, not particularly to cast any original light on LXX matters or how the name was handled in the setting of earliest Christianity. On that, he seems (unduly and simplistically) dependent on Howard, and seems not to know the critiques levelled against him. Just a couple of critical notes here:

        We know from, e.g., Josephus and Philo, that Greek-speaking Jews (or at least those approved by these writers) did use “kyrios” for YHWH. Second, the NT writings also reflect this. There may well have been a variety of practices, but this was among them.

        In his discussion of “Early Christianity and the Use of the Tetragrammaton” especially, he’s clearly out of his depths (esp. pp. 10ff.), a lot of pure speculation (e.g., that the “heavy burdens” of Matt 23:2 = the prohibition against pronouncing YHWH). Also, the Tosephta wasn’t written at the end of the 2nd century! And I know of no references to Jews actually burning Christian books, with or without the Tetragrammaton in them. And among Jews who don’t pronounce YHWH there is still talk of honouring God’s name, so the latter doesn’t require people pronouncing YHWH. Contra Howard, there is every reason to doubt that the Tetragammaton originally appeared in NT quotations of the OT. And 2 Tim 2:19 rather obviously refers to invoking “the Lord Jesus,” not to pronouncing YHWH. Etc.

      • Thank you for your comments. About this:

        “And I know of no references to Jews actually burning Christian books, with or without the Tetragrammaton in them.”

        I was referring to this from the Tosefta:

        “The books of the Evangelists and the books of the minim [thought to be Jewish Christians] they do not save from a fire. But they are allowed to burn where they are, . . . they and the references to the Divine Name which are in them.”

        This same work apparently quotes Rabbi Yosé the Galilean, who lived in the first and second centuries of the common era (according to Wiki), as follows:

        “one cuts out the references to the Divine Name which are in them [the Christian writings] and stores them away, and the rest burns.”

        When I read about this in an article I wondered why anyone would cut out the divine names in a collection of writings and burn the rest. The only answer that came to me — which obviously doesn’t make it the only answer, or even the likeliest answer — is that some pious folks felt that the teachings of the early Christians taught theological error, and found it offensive that the divine name was used in such worthless writings.

        Has anyone discovered or postulated a plausible reason why this document burning effort was undertaken, and why divine names were cut out before the documents were thrown into the fire?

      • Sean: What I meant is that I don’t actually know of any evidence that Jews actually burnt Christian Gospels or other texts. The statement in the Tosephta isn’t evidence of it. It’s only a rabbinic statement and these are often somewhat theoretical, more concerned with legal matters than with actual actions.

      • “What I meant is that I don’t actually know of any evidence that Jews actually burnt Christian Gospels or other texts. The statement in the Tosephta isn’t evidence of it. It’s only a rabbinic statement and these are often somewhat theoretical, more concerned with legal matters than with actual actions.”

        Why would such a theoretical notion occur to them though unless they were aware of Christian writings that contained the divine name? They went to the extent of actually specifying a process for dealing with the presence of the divine name in Christian writings, and this seems unlikely (to me, at least) if surrogates were universally used in place of the divine name.

      • Sean: Rather than speculate about why this or that Tosefta text says this or that about early Christian writings, how about simply examining early Christian manuscripts? If you do, you don’t find any NT writings with the tetragram written in Hebrew characters. Let’s do evidence-based inquiry and analysis.

  8. I think many people think this is “a hobby” for you, when in fact, it is hard work and involves serious commitment of time. I confront this mostly with my kids who are on the internet for hours a day and sometimes wax eloquent about some theory they have come to believe especially about some Biblical topic. When I tell them a solution that I have formulated from my years of formal and informal study on the topic, they react the same way you have described. Their “scholarship” is “a mile wide and an inch deep”. =)

  9. Amen and Amen! As I’ve said for years, books are for research and blogs are not.

  10. Larry, along with the others already here, I value your blog. It is informative, points me in the right direction, and makes helpful suggestions.

  11. I fully agree with your contention. I value blogs like yours because they point me to resources I would not otherwise be aware of. While I am not a scholar in the sense of holding an academic post, I work in a ministry context (a public university) where “sound-bite” answers just don’t cut it. I also try to review the works I read, not so that others don’t have to do the work, but so that they can discover work that would be useful to them.

    At the same time, I also realize that none of us can study everything and in this case, blogs like yours, and other review publications are helpful in being conversant about work being done that we don’t have time to do, as long as we are honest about that and humble in not claiming more for ourselves than is warranted.

    Very glad to have found this blog!

  12. Mark permalink

    Here’s my favorite “Who needs books when you have the Holy Spirit!” How about this one “Who needs books when you “The Book!” I think that says it all.

    • I think, for some, the equivalent is “Who needs books when you’ve got the Internet?”

  13. Well said, Larry!

  14. Well said! There will always be people who want to vent or rant without bothering to work at understanding the background of issues/events. In the classroom they are the ones who show their basic ignorance. Keep up the excellent work, both here and in your books, which I love.

  15. Brian permalink

    Very good Larry🙂

  16. JRMV - Jose Martinez-Villamil permalink

    Thanks for your blog. It is really appreciated.

  17. mvpcworshipblog permalink

    Dear Professor Hurtado,

    The most useful service that blogs by scholars like you provide to pastors like me is pointing us in the direction of books and articles that we might want to read.

    I have heard several other pastors make this observation and, in light of this posting, I wanted to share that with you.

    Respectively,

    David A Booth

  18. Larry Burton permalink

    Extremely well said.

  19. Absolutely agreed on the intention of a blog, in fact its a great tool to be able to interact on scholarship in a less formal way than journal articles and subsequent responses, and on a higher frequency than academic conferences.

    However, I suspect that the trend towards smaller content lengths has impacted more than merely the blogosphere. Fewer people are reading entire books anymore, let alone in a single sitting, and preferring to read summarised cliff notes, or even just perusing the abstract of a journal article rather than the article as a whole. Perhaps the pinnacle of this is Twitter, attempting to reduce complex ideas and arguments to 140 characters (although the exercise to express the Gospel in a tweet, and for that matter any large argument, can be useful to discern the core of the argument).

    Perhaps C.S. Lewis’ old essay ‘On Reading Old Books’ needs to be republished with an addendum ‘On Reading Whole Books’…

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