I have been dealing with some of the criticisms that classmates from my college days at Moody Bible Institute have leveled against me. The reason this thread started is that I had decided to say a few words about my Moody experience here on the blog. I didn’t really finish that, but word got out among my former peers (I’m on a listserv that some of them hang out on) and several people made remarks about it. I’m not sure they knew I was reading their comments. (!)
One comment was that I was in danger of judgment on the Last Day. I’ve already said a couple of things about that. Another was that I write my books simply in order to become famous. This post will be the second one on that. The third, which I will also deal with in a couple of posts, is the claim that I have led so many people astray (harming them, the truth, and reality as we know it).
First let me finish with the view – held not only by more former Moody friends and acquaintances, but by a lot of people – that if an author has bestselling books, he is probably writing them simply to become rich and famous.
I already pointed out that my desire all along, from the time I was in college, through graduate school, into my teaching and early publishing career, was not to sell lots of books to non-scholars. I, frankly, wasn’t interested in writing for non-scholars. I wanted to produce scholarship for scholars. And I had chosen the most narrow, circumscribed, technical field of scholarship on the New Testament market to do that – the painstaking study of the surviving textual witnesses (mainly Greek) to try to establish the “original” text of the New Testament.
Even within that mind-numbing subfield of New Testament research, I had chosen one of the more arcane sub-sub-fields, the analysis of Patristic citations of the New Testament to determine how the text had come to be changed by scribes over the centuries. My plan had been to pursue that for time immemorial. This was something I had trouble even *explaining* to a non-scholar, let alone convincing anyone that it was interesting and worth buying a book about. I had no interest even in trying.
But as I indicated, an editor at Oxford convinced me to write a textbook on the NT for a college audience. I finally, reluctantly, agreed. And I am SO glad I did. It was a terrific experience.
As it turns out, I had a real advantage in writing for 19-20 year olds.
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