The *point* of this post comes near the end.
The first trade book that I wrote (that is, a book for a general reading audience, as opposed to a scholarly book for scholars) was Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, which appeared in 1999. I wrote several after that (including one that I like among my best: Lost Christianities), but it wasn’t until Misquoting Jesus in 2005 that I feel like I “hit my stride.” That was the book where I think I “figure it out” – that is, figured out how to write not for my colleagues in the field of early Christian studies or New Testament, and not for university colleagues in other disciplines, and not for 19 year old college students (the readers of my textbooks), but for average, interested, educated lay persons who don’t know the jargon or technical aspects of my field, or probably any academic field, but want to know what scholars are saying without feeling like they are being “talked down to” by a condescending intellectual.
That book was the first one where I decided to tell my own story as part of the academic story I was telling. It was a bit of a task writing the book. I had decided that scholars in my subfield of specialization within New Testament studies really needed to communicate with a broader audience that was almost *completely* in the dark about what it is those scholars were doing. But it was tricky, because that particular subfield is probably THE most highly technical subfield within the entire discipline – textual criticism.
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