Kudos to John Byron and Joel Lohr on editing a nice new little book called I (Still) Believe: Leading Biblical Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship (Zondervan, 2015). This book contains short autobiographical essays by respected scholars such as James D.G. Dunn, Walter Moberly, Ellen Davis, Patrick Miller, Beverly Gaventa, Gordon Fee, Richard Bauckham and Morna Hooker (18 total).
As far as I know, none of these scholars blog (am I right, John?), but if they did, this is the kind of thing readers might like to know from them – how has scholarship affected your faith and vice versa?
I was going to blog through the book, but Ken has beat me to it, so I will leave that task in his capable hands. Instead, I will just say – get the book!
A few quick observation: I have read several of the essays and I noticed a trend whereby few of these scholars had their faith rocked by critical scholarship. Where there had been waves and low-points in faith, it seems more triggered by “ugly politics” in academia. More than a few said that their parents and/or church had a rich enough faith to help them engage questions and doubts honestly and maturely. This is a great challenge to our churches to recognize this need.
Secondly, I noticed how few of these scholars grew up wanting to be scholars! Most of them talk about stumbling into biblical studies.
Thirdly, several scholars talked about how they were inspired by some of their own professors. And for me, it is the same. I would say teachers who have had a deep impact on my vocation (especially modeling authentic, passionate, and engaging teaching) have been Dr. Steven Nimis (classics, Miami University), Dr. Sean McDonough (Gordon Conwell), Dr. Gary Parrett (Gordon Conwell), and Prof. John Barclay (Durham). I also want to throw in there Dr. Gordon Fee – while I never studied with Fee (sadly), I used to listen to his lectures on audio tape when I commuted to downtown Boston to teach adjunct courses after I graduated from Gordon Conwell. By the way, Fee’s essay in I (Still) Believe is entitled “Scholar on Fire” – and it is an apt description. What passion!
Anyway, it is interesting to read this book in a time when some leaders and critics within SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) are suspicion of confessional scholarship. I have the humble privilege of serving on the board of the Institute for Biblical Research, an affiliate of SBL, and I believe that we try to demonstrate that evangelicals can bring a lot to the table of academic scholarship. So, the stories in this book (and I should mention that most are not evangelicals) remind me that biblical scholars do not have to be ashamed of or hide their faith.
I hope you get the chance to enjoy these stories.