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Bart’s personal comments and reflections.

Autobiographical. Metzger and Me: Serving as his Teaching Assistant

THIS IS A CONTINUATION OF MY RECOLLECTIONS OF MY TIME WITH BRUCE METZGER, MY MENTOR AT PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY FOR SEVEN YEARS (BOTH MY MASTERS AND PH.D. DEGREES) In addition to studying with Bruce Metzger for seven years, four of them as his PhD student, I also served as his teaching assistant on a number of occasions. Teaching assistants normally help with the teaching of a large lecture course. Sometimes that means meeting with groups of students regularly – once a week – for a discussions section dealing with aspects of the course. And always it means helping with the grading, or – even more commonly – doing all the grading! The professor then lectures, gives assignments, directs the course – and the T.A. (= teaching assistant) does all the grunt work. It’s part of the training. Metzger tended to have large courses for the MDiv students (Masters of Divinity is the basic degree for training to become a minister; MDiv students already have a college degree) – because so many of the students revered [...]

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 [...]

Autobiographical: Metzger and Me. The Seminar on the Canon

THIS RETURNS TO MY SERIES OF POSTS ON MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MENTOR BRUCE METZGER. EVENTUALLY, MANY POSTS FROM NOW, I'LL GET BACK TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION: WHAT HE THOUGHT OF MY MOVE AWAY FROM THE FAITH. THAT'S WAY DOWN THE LINE. I return to the early years of my relationship with Bruce Metzger.   That graduate seminar that I took with him, my first semester in my PhD program, was exhilarating, and in some senses life changing.   To be sure, most of the work we did for the seminar was difficult and detailed.  Every week we had to translate from Greek or Latin an ancient “canon list” – that is, a list of books that this or that author thought should be considered canonical scripture – lists and discussions of canon from Origen, Eusebius, Codex Claramontanus, Athanasius, and so on.  One of the students in the course, as it turns out, was a Greek orthodox priest studying for a PhD.  He obviously knew Greek extremely well, better than any of us (except, of course, Metzger).  [...]

Autobiographical. Metzger and Me: Beginning the PhD Program

HIS IS A CONTINUATION OF MY POSTS ON MY RELATIONSHIP WITH BRUCE METZGER, MY MENTOR. When I entered the PhD program at Princeton Theological Seminary, my relationship with Bruce Metzger deepened significantly. At the time, the New Testament program at PTS was one of the best in the country. The faculty teaching the PhD students were all brilliant scholars; all of them except Metzger were principally known for their work in exegesis (the interpretation of the New Testament) and biblical theology (trying to explain the meaning and significance of the text for the individual Christian and the life of the church). None of them, apart from Metzger, was widely published and known outside of scholarly circles; but within scholarly circles they had a very high profile indeed. My main professors in the program were, in addition to Metzger, Chris Beker (a somewhat wild but truly genius interpreter of the writings of Paul), Paul Meyer (one of the deepest readers of texts I’ve ever known), and David Adams (a junior faculty person who had a brilliantly [...]

Autobiographical: Metzger and Me. My First Work on the Text

QUESTION: Hey Bart, I know you studied under Bruce Metzger and my question is how did he feel about your skepticism toward the trustworthiness of the N.T?   RESPONSE: Bruce Metzger and I had a long and very close relationship.  I was his student for seven years and his research assistant for the New Revised Standard Version (he was the chair of the translation committee) for a couple of years.  He directed my masters and PhD theses; he helped me break into publishing; he worked to get me into editorial positions for journals and monograph series; he guided my research until I struck out on my own.  I dare say I was closer to him than any student that he had in his four decades of teaching at Princeton Theological Seminary.   He became a kind of father figure for me.   He was a great New Testament scholar and a great man. I first heard of Bruce Metzger when I was in college studying Greek.  My Greek professor at Wheaton, Gerald Hawthorne, knew that I was [...]

At the Beach (3): Thinking Yet More of Books

As with a lot of scholars, books seem to make up my life. Books I’ve read, books I’ve studied, books I’ve revered, books I’ve scorned (my favorite professor in graduate school used to say: “Any fool can write a big book. And many have!”). There are also the books I’ve written and books I’ve edited; books my relations have written and edited (e.g., my brother, a Latin scholar at Kent State University; and Sarah, whose books are amazing for their erudition); books my friends have written and edited. Nearly all my friends are scholars. And all of them have written books. (My one really close friend who is not a scholar is Robert Miller – and he is my editor for Oxford University Press! He happens to live in Chapel Hill, and we have been close for many years; his wife Silvia is an editor as well –at Routledge Press in NYC when I first met her, and now at UNC Press in Chapel Hill). To access the rest of this post, log in as [...]

2020-04-03T19:41:47-04:00May 29th, 2012|Reflections and Ruminations|

At the Beach (2): Reflecting on Books

One of my favorite parts of the beach (in addition to the walks, the eating, the drinking, the talking, the sleeping) is thinking about books. The novels I’m reading, the books I’m writing. The books I learn about from Sarah and Dale. What I pick up from these two is really something. Sarah in particular is a voracious reader; I’ve never met anyone or seen anything like it before. This week she is reading through the novels of Elizabeth Taylor (not the American actress! The British novelist, who wrote twelve, evidently amazing, novels). And the nice thing about Sarah is that I almost never can read a book she hasn’t read. This week I was devouring Vanity Fair. Oh yes, she was examined on it for her Alevels (back when she was, like 17, before heading off to read English at Oxford. And yes, she can still talk about it….) Among other things, since this beach holiday always comes at the end of the school year, I spend some time thinking back over what I’ve [...]

2020-05-27T16:26:19-04:00May 27th, 2012|Book Discussions, Reflections and Ruminations|

Personal Reflections: At the Beach

I have decided to make some personal posts about the things I’m up to and doing, especially, but not exclusively, as they relate to Christianity in Antiquity. I’m seeing this as a kind of public diary/extended-twitter sort of thing. I’m not sure if it’ll be of any interest to anyone. If not, well, no one has to read it! I’ve spent the past ten days at the beach with two of my best friends. One of them happens to be my wife, Sarah; the other is Dale Martin, one of the country’s top New Testament scholars, senior professor at Yale, who years ago introduced Sarah and me when he (and Sarah) were both teaching at Duke. Sarah lived across the street from Dale in Durham, I lived in Chapel Hill. (This was 1996.) Dale thought we might be interested in each other, and introduced us, thinking it might lead to a wild weekend. He had no idea that it would turn out like this. For the rest of this post, please log in. If you [...]

2020-04-03T19:42:23-04:00May 26th, 2012|Bart’s Biography, Reflections and Ruminations|

Personal Reflections Page

I have decided to include a new category on my blog (available for members only) for personal reflections. This will give me a chance to talk about things that are happening in my life. Most of the time there will be a close, or, well, more-or-less close, tie in to the themes of the rest of the blog: the study of Christianity in Antiquity. But these comments will be more personal in nature. At this point, I’m imagining it to have more of an “extended-twitter” feel to it. I can understand that some people may simply not be interested. To those people, let me say: Don’t read these posts! For anyone who is interested, feel free to ask me about anything I post, and I will be happy to elaborate.

2016-02-05T22:57:21-05:00May 25th, 2012|Public Forum, Reflections and Ruminations|

What Do Tectonic Plates Have To Do With Suffering?

I have always found it interesting that when I talk about how there can be suffering in the world if there is a good God who is in charge of it, someone will tell me that it is all because of “free will.” I think most of us – not Sam Harris, of course, or some others, but most of us – think that there is such a thing as free will, that our actions are not completely determined for us but to some extent (not completely! Or even nearly completely) we can decide what to do (we can’t decide to walk on the ceiling without special equipment; most of us can’t decide to understand the general theory of relativity; and so on. But we can decide whether to cross the street, or go to a movie, or punch our neighbor in the nose). Moreover, most of us would agree that a good deal of suffering happens as the result of humans exercising free will. Your own broken nose may be because your neighbor was [...]

2020-04-03T19:46:20-04:00April 23rd, 2012|Bart's Debates, Reflections and Ruminations|
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