A Problem with My Textbook

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Writing any kind of book whatsoever is really difficult.  But each *kind* of book is difficult in its own way.  I tend to write three kinds of books: scholarly works for scholars (not for general consumption!); popular trade books for broader audiences of intelligent adults; and textbooks for college kids.   As I’ve repeatedly said, I’m now finishing up my new textbook on the Bible for introductory level classes.   The audience is, basically, American 19 and 20-year olds.   And I’m finding it hard!

There are several things that are just inherently hard for this kind of thing.  It is hard to take something that can so easily be made dull and lifeless and make it interesting and even intriguing.  It is hard to write at the right level so that the readers are treated like adults but not too much knowledge is assumed.  It is hard to take complicated ideas and concepts and make them simple and understandable enough for 19-year-olds who may be having the first introduction to the subject matter ever.  It is hard to write with both a good sense of humor and a sense of distance between you, the author, and the reader….

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A Problem with My Textbook (For members)

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Comments

  1. David Dalgleish  September 21, 2012

    I thought your “misquoting Jesus” book was good for a mass audience, and I thought Marcus Borg’s ” Reading The Bible Again for the First Time” was excellent as well. Type-face, breaking-up paragraphs, headings etc. help make a book easier to read.

  2. Just Sayin'  September 21, 2012

    I still don’t understand why you just want to write for AMERICAN 19 & 20-year olds? Wouldn’t you like your textbooks to be used in, say, Canadian colleges also?

    This seems to be a peculiarly American way of thinking — “I’ll write for students in my own country only.” I haven’t come across it anywhere else; profs in other places simply write textbooks for (English-speaking, or whatever language) students!

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  September 21, 2012

      Good point. I don’t know if my textbooks are used in Canada or not.

      • Adam  September 22, 2012

        As a Canadian this does not offend me. I think it’s important to have a general group/culture in mind when writing and by doing this I don’t think you exclude others…

        Ehrman’s NT Intro textbook is well-used by seminaries in Canada. It is also used for undergraduates at public universities. I know from experience that a few of the seminaries federated with the University of Toronto use it for their NT intro classes as well as other mainline seminaries elsewhere.

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