What makes a good biblical scholar?
Lots of things, many of which have to do with self-awareness. In no particular order:
A good biblical scholar is committed to patient historical, literary and theological analysis of the text on its own terms.
A good biblical scholar doesn’t believe the old adage, “what I’m not up on, I’m down on.” They don’t think something isn’t important if they don’t know about it already and are open to learning from all comers. But he or she is not trapped by every new fad or methodology.
A good biblical scholar has a high boredom threshold and can chew on the same bone for years, if not decades. But he or she is also easily distracted and incurably curious.
A good (Christian) biblical scholar does not divide devotional from academic reading. He or she reads the Bible rigorously and as one who believes the apostolic witness to God’s work in Jesus Christ and lives their life as part of a local community of faith.
A good biblical scholar knows their limits and is a serial collaborator – with other biblical scholars and across disciplines.
A good biblical scholar is constantly making connections within and across the biblical texts. He or she loves the details as well as the big picture, both the trees and the woods.
A good biblical scholar reads widely to appreciate and learn from good communication – not just NT Wright and Lynn Cohick, but also from the likes of Tim Winton and Marilynne Robinson. He or she believes that the point of studying the Bible is for the benefit of others and knows that if they can’t communicate their findings there is little point in studying the Bible at a scholarly level.
Brian S. Rosner (PhD, Cambridge) is principal of Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the Pillar New Testament Commentary 1 Corinthians (along with Roy E. Ciampa), Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God, and most recently, Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity.