Scholars Who Have Influenced Me Most

Inspired by a recent post by Chris Tilling on ’20 enjoyable books to read’, I thought another approach would be naming the scholars who have been most influential to me (and which books are especially good). This is not an exhaustive list nor is it in any special order.

Let’s start with the Durham posse

1. James D.G. Dunn – why? The New Perspective, of course! But, also his work on the Holy Spirit. In terms of commentaries, his Romans (WBC) is fantastic, but I am also very pleased with his Galatians (BNTC) and Colossians (NIGTC). Where to start? His new The New Perspective on Paul (Eerdmans 2008). Also, I will never be the same after reading his ‘Paul’s Understanding of the Death of Jesus’ in the FS for Leon Morris entitled Reconcilation and Hope (1974).

2. John M.G. Barclay – why? Amazing work on ethics in Galatians with insight into the flesh/spirit dichotomy. Also, his Jews in the Med. Diaspora is quite good. Where to begin? Probably with his Obeying the Truth (published thesis on Galatians). Some of his articles/essays are really excellent – check out the interesting interaction and critique of the New Perspective in ‘Neither Jew nor Greek: Multiculturalism and the New Perspective on Paul’ in Ethnicity in the Bible (1996).

3. Stephen Barton – why? He has done some influential work on the use of social-sciences and NT theology. Check out especially his Life Together: Family, Sexuality and Community in the New Testament and Today. He has also written on ethics and NT- good stuff (he is also my primary supervisor). For Gospels, he edited the Cambridge Companion to the Gospels and has written a nice little book The Spirituality of the Gospels.

4. Francis Watson – why? He has done some interesting work on theological hermeneutics, sociological aspects in Paul, ethics, and more. The recent revision of his thesis is fantastic, though he goes down some very unusual roads sometimes with his interpretation. Overall, though, his argument is cogent. Check out Eerdman’s Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles: Beyond the New Perspective. In person and in this book he convinced me that pistis christou should be read as an objective genitive rather than a subject (whereas I previously leaned towards Hays).

[NOTE: I had originally forgotton Tom Wright  – my apologies to the bishop.  Add him in here, and I would recommend (1) his Colossians commentary (Tyndale) and his Romans commentary (New Interpreters) and (2) his little book called What Saint Paul Really Said.  Also, the New Testament and the People of God is really good for background-y kinds of research in early Judaism; that makes more than 20 scholars, so I guess my list is  a bit bloated now!]

Now on to the other Durham

5. Richard Hays – why? Do I really need to answer this? His work on intertextuality, ethics, and community, of course! Where to begin? Tough one. I would say Conversion of the Imagination and/or Moral Vision of the NT.

The next few have influenced me just through good old-fashioned solid exegesis and clear and reasonable commentary writing

6. Ben Witherington III – check out his Conflict and COmmunity in Corinth. Also, in terms of introductory materials, he is almost unmatched in terms of accessible history of scholarship in both The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest. Also, his NEw Testament History is a fun read and great to use as a textbook for NT intro.

7. Gordon D. Fee – why? Certainly his research on the Spirit, but also see his excellent commentaries on Philippians (NICNT), 1 Corinthians (NICNT), as well as newer work on Galatians. Where to begin? Try his Paul, the Spirit and the People of God. If you are up to the challenge, try his new Pauline Christology – it will probably earn the title ‘magisterial’.

8. I.H. Marshall – why? Good solid scholarship from an evangelical perspective. Where to begin? Try his New Testament Theology. Check out, also, his Beyond the Bible. Did you know he is working on a Romans commentary for the Two Horizons? As a fellow Arminian/Methodist, I am interested in his perspective on Romans. Also see his new Aspects of the Atonement (Paternoster).

Other scholars who have influenced me in smaller ways

9. Markus Bockmuehl – good, critical, but reasonable scholarship. His Philippians commentary (BNTC) is one of the best. Though I read it just recently, his Seeing the Word (about the past and future of NT scholarship) was really impacting. Check out also his work as editor and contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Jesus (he writes on Resurrection).

10. Richard Bauckham – Though his work has been largely in Revelation and the Gospels (especially John), I was very impressed with his work on Christology in God Crucified – a must-read! Also his Theology of the Book of Revelation is the best short intro to that mysterious and fascinating NT text.

11. Beverly Gaventa – her commentary work (on 1-2 Thessalonians, and also on Galatians) is commendable. I would read her Our Mother Saint Paul. She is good on Paul and Apocalyptic.

12. Joel B. Green – excellent work on narrative theology; also his new commentary on 1 Peter is very engaging, eloquent, and takes the discussion beyond stagnant controversies of the past.

13. David Horrell – His work on social aspects in Corinth is commendable. But, his work on ethics in really impressive – check out his Solidarity and Difference. He is now working in 1 Peter. I am going to review a new introductory guide to 1 Peter – more to come.

14. Jerome Neyrey – A member of the context group that I admire greatly. His work in honor and shame (especially in Matthew) was very formative for me. ALso, a really nice chap.

15. David deSilva – also has done work on social-sciences. Check out his Hope of Glory and Honor, Kinship & Purity. Also a good exegete with invaluable work on Hebrews. His NT Intro textbook is absolutely the best out there. I would use it in a heartbeat.

16. Stanley Hauerwas – You must read the Hauerwas Reader.

17. Craig Keener – why? Especially good on how and why to use ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman sources. Also very enlightening on the issue of women in ministry.

18. Richard Longenecker – need I justify? His Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period is a classic; his commentary on Galatians (WBC) is always worthy of consideration in exegesis. He is currently working on a multi-volume commentary on Romans. I have interacted with him a bit. Nice chap.

19. Michael Gorman – He is not a prolific author, but his works thus far have been weighty. Where to start? Cruciformity, though his textbook on Paul is the best thing out there for an intro to Paul’s theology.

20. Oh, where to end? I guess I will cheat and call it a tie among Stanley Porter (I suspect his new commentary on Romans [Sheffield Phoenix] will be excellent), Craig Evans (his research guide to Ancient Texts of the New Testament is invaluable), Greg Beale (with his work on the book of Revelation and intertextuality; his short commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians is quite good), and Stephen Fowl (try his commentary on Philippians).

It would be fun to hear from other bloggers (on their own websites and/or in the comments below) regarding their favs.

41 thoughts on “Scholars Who Have Influenced Me Most

  1. Great list. No women, though? BTW, I’ve been working through 2 of Barton’s books, the one you mentioned and another. Durham seems like a place I’d like to study some day, and particularly under a fellow like Barton. Any thoughts? I’d love to speak w/you via email about it if so. 🙂

  2. Michael, Beverly Gaventa is a woman!

    Nijay, great list! I studied with Gordon Fee at Regent College and now work with Richard Hays at Duke. They are both great people.

    Anthony LeDonne is a friend of mine who did a Ph.D. in New Testament at Durham recently.

    I thought of many others you didn’t mention of course but yours is a good list and you know many I do not. Here are others to throw in the hopper of consideration: C.K. Barrett, F.F. Bruce, Doug Moo (Wheaton), Scott Hafemann (Gordon-Conwell), Scot McKnight (North Park), Tom Wright, E.P. Sanders, Bruce Winter.

    There will be others some conservatives will want to mention: D.A. Carson (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary). Wayne Meeks would be mentioned by many others. There is no end to the listing!

    And a new generation of younger faculty are friends: Richard Beaton at Fuller, Rikk Watts at Regent College, Douglas Campbell and Kavin Rowe here at Duke, and Ross Wagner at Princeton.

    grace and peace,

    Andy Rowell
    Doctor of Theology Student
    Duke Divinity School
    Durham, North Carolina

  3. Yes, Beverly Gaventa is a woman and I am sorry there are not many others. It is not that I don’t admire some women writers. I guess I could have added M.M. Thompson (Fuller) for her excellent work on John’s Gospel, though I have not read her work in depth. I also enjoy the work of L. Ann Jervis on Romans and on the problem of evil and suffering.

    As far as chaps like Barrett and Bruce – surely they have had a massive influence on NT scholarship, but I can’t explain in detail what they have contributed to my thought. They are, as it were, the exegetical foundation for a great deal of scholarship. let’s leave it at that. And, from my own interactons with Kingsley, he is a warm and pastoral man with a deep love for the church.

    As far as the ‘new guard’ of scholars, certainly I am impressed with people like Simon Gathercole and eddie Adams. As for some of the ‘conservatives’, sadly I have become concerned with the dogmatism coming out of some evangelical circles who oust people like Peter Enns. But, I appreciate fair and level-headed conservatives like Craig Blomberg and David Garland. OK, enough said.

  4. Oh, did I leave Kasemann of the list? Oh, dear – let’s add him as 21. Read his PERSPECTIVES ON PAUL.

  5. Hi Nijay,
    I did a somewhat similar post here. As your list reflects your Arminian/Methodist background, my list reflects my Calvinist/Presbyterian theological education (but I grew up United Methodist!). I’m headed to Durham this summer to start an NT PhD (with Francis Watson as supervisor), I’m sure we’ll probably meet someday in the not to distant future.
    Ben D.

  6. i should probably state that i wasn’t meaning to have a condemnatory statement here, i was asking genuinely. in other words, i wasn’t asking out of a sense of shock or frustration. again, i was really wondering if there were no women on the list. alas, you had gaventa, which i now recognize. just thought i should clarify.

  7. Danny,
    Good question. When I was at Gordon-Conwell, they were kind of building up the NT department with younger scholars. So, though I was strongly influenced by Roy Ciampa and Sean McDonough, they have not written much. I did have on my list Roy’s supervisor (Brian Rosner) and Sean’s (Richard Bauckham). I also enjoyed studying with Douglas Stuart, but I just had him for Intermediate Hebrew and Aramaic – not really that impacting on my theology directly (though very much so indirectly).

    I guess I could have added Scott Hafemann. His 2 Corinthians commentary in the NIVAC is really excellent. But, keep in mind that Gordon Fee used to be a Gordon-Conwell – that should count for something! ALso, Ben Witherington did a bit of teaching at GCTS.

  8. Thanks, Nijay. I’ve had the privilege, as an editor, to work with three of those you’ve listed and so I thought I would echo the good things you said about them.

    Michael Gorman’s textbook on Paul that you mentioned is, I think, his recent Reading Paul, the topselling title in our Cascade Companions series. This was one of my first editing projects. You are right; it is one of the best intro to Paul’s theology.

    I also would echo your assessment of Ben Witherington’s handling of introductory materials. I am now in the middle of copyediting a volume by him for our Companions series on NT Rhetoric. He is very good at many things, especially introducing readers to complex subjects in accessible ways.

    And, finally, later this summer I hope to have a manuscript from Steve Fowl for the Companions series on Theological Interpretation. My own book on Theological Interpretation dealt with Fowl’s approach to the subject over against Kevin Vanhoozer’s approach. So, I am pretty excited about the Companion Fowl is delivering to us.

  9. Chris,
    Thanks for the update on these scholars. Actually, the Gorman book I was referring to is ‘Apostle of the Crucified Lord’ (Eerdmans) which is a longer intro to Paul and a fantastic resource.

    I have not read his ‘reading Paul’, but perhaps Cascade could bless me with a copy to summarize for my Pauline bibliography on my blog! 🙂

  10. Some have been a bit shocked that I didn’t list NT Wright. Now that I think about it, he probably should be somewhere in there. I must confess that I have not read Jesus and the Victory of God, though many people have recommended it. I guess, pardon my frankness – I find Wright a bit longwinded in his writing. I really like a lot of the stuff in the New Testament and the People of God, but I find it so dense (that is, too dense). But, his little volume on WHat Saint Paul Really Said is concise (for Wright) and very useful for the beginning student in Paul. Yes, add him in there under Durham. My apologies to the good bishop.

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