The more advanced you get in your own research area, it seems, the further away you get from being able to have simple and mutually beneficial dialogues with scholars from other disciplines, let alone the average bible college student or informed layperson. AS I think about teaching in a seminary one day, I am trying to be more well-rounded and striving to reflect on issues and questions beyond the Pauline scholarly circle. If you are like me, this is hard because you want to have a specific focus. But, I have tried to broaden my horizons in a few areas. Thus, I have set a goal for myself that I would have one primary interest (Pauline theology), but also several secondary interests and a few tertiary interests. The goal I set for myself was to have
1. One OT book I try to learn more about and have a secondary interest in (provisionally I have chosen Exodus; also Isaiah).
2. One person or book from early Judaism to have a secondary interest in (provisionally Philo; perhaps also Dead Sea Scrolls and maybe Testament of Levi)
3. One moral philosopher from the Greco-Roman world to get to know better (I haven’t decided yet, but probably Plutarch)
4. One Patristic writer to get to know (as a tertiary interest; probably John Chrysostom)
5. One modern theologian to learn from (as a tertiary interest; right now I am reading through the Hauerwas reader)
6. One other NT book outside of Paul to interact with (right now I have done some work in 1 Peter and Gospel of John; perhaps I may like to dabble in Hebrews and Revelation).
What does it mean to have a secondary interest in these things? Well, when I see books available for review on these, I try to snatch them up if I can. When I write articles, I try to see if there are resonances in any of these. It is an intentional way of broadening my circle of theological conversation without it being overwhelming. In my thesis research I came to really enjoy reading Philo and I have provisionally included a chapter on Philo’s use of cultic language. When I finish my thesis, I may add in a brief section on how John Chrysostom interpret’s cultic language (in a “looking forward” section of my conclusion).
Lately, I have noticed that some of the most interesting articles and essays out there are attempts to let two worlds collide and see what happens, whether the gap is historical, theological, or in terms of previously separated disciplines.
Are others trying to do something similar? How has it worked?