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Autobiographical. Metzger and Me: My Dissertation Proposal

THIS IS A CONTINUATION OF MY REFLECTIONS ON MY RELATIONSHIP WITH BRUCE METZGER, MY MENTOR. SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE ASKED WHAT HIS VIEW WAS OF MY LEAVING THE FAITH. I’LL DEAL WITH THAT DOWN THE LINE. (AS IT TURNS OUT, IT’S VIRTUALLY A NON-EXISTENT PART OF THE STORY….)

In graduate school different professors have different approaches to evaluating and grading term papers. Some professors are completely anal about it and insist on correcting every mistake, rewriting every sentence, and reformulating every idea. Not many are that way, thankfully, since doing all this takes an enormous chunk of time (and a very large ego). I never had a professor like that, but I have known some over the years. Others make extremely judicious and helpful comments, sometimes at great length. My teacher Paul Meyer was like that at Princeton Seminary. The comments he made on our papers were in depth, always on target, and superior in quality to any of the scholarship we read all semester in the class. Meyer never published much himself – he threw himself into his students instead; we always threatened to extract his comments from our papers and to publish them as articles for him.

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Autobiographical. Metzger and Me: Serving as his Teaching Assistant
Autobiographical: Metzger and Me. The Seminar on the Canon

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    jimmo  July 14, 2012

    Wonderful story, Bart. Dr. Mertzger seems like a true educator and a very honorable man. My high school German teacher was like that, and after 30 years I still have contact with him. I have read parts of Dr. Mertzger’s “The Canon of the New Testament” and the tidbits you have written about him, and my impression of him is that he strove for the truth, regardless of any preconceptions. I am curious as to what you would say about that.

    In the words of Jefferson Starship, “In my world, teachers get paid more than baseball players.”

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 14, 2012

      My view is that we all have preconceptions, including the great Bruce Metzger. But yes, he was a seeker after truth (even if he seemed to know the truth before he started seriously seeking!)

  2. Avatar
    Jacobus  July 14, 2012

    I find your autobiographical posts on your relationship with prof. Bruce Metzger very interesting, as the rest of those reading your blog, I will be lying, if I say I can’t wait to hear how he reacted towards you leaving the faith, even if it is non-existent.

  3. Avatar
    jasha  July 15, 2012

    Dr. Ehrman,

    From a non-Christian, secular perspective, I find the idea of doing “original research” on Theology to be a bit odd; I’m not even sure how one would approach such a thing. But it did get me thinking about the relationship between the missions of textual/historical study (what wrote what, and when?) and Theology (what should we believe?) and how these might relate to each other. Are you aware of any times where, as a result of new understandings brought out through textual criticism, any significant Christian church has decided that they were mistaken about something or other and needed to change some aspect of their theology? Just curious.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 15, 2012

      Ah, you should read some theology then. It would not be what you expect. Real theologians are serious thinkers, some of them absolutely brilliant, by any standards you want to apply. (two key examples, my cross-town colleague Stanley Hauerwas at Duke Divinity School and my wife’s personal idol, Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury; both of them — especially Williams — are in a different league from us mere mortals….)

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