On the heels of the publication of How Jesus Became God, written for a broad, general audience, rather than for scholars, and in light of my previous post in which I indicated that some scholars are very sniffy about this kind of publication and think that it is “only” a popular kind of book, I was going to devote this post to my view of scholars in relationship to popular, trade books. As I was outlining my points in my head, I realized, Wait a second! I’ve said all this before. Not on the blog. But in a very different context indeed.

In 2011 at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature there was a very large session devoted to such things. The panel presenting papers was John Dominic Crossan, Amy Jill Levine, N. T. Wright, and me. The audience was all biblical scholars, maybe a thousand of them? The following is what I said in my talk about scholars publishing for a popular audience.


We as biblical scholars need to be informing the public about what we do. Many of us are public servants, supported by tax dollars of hard working people in our broader communities. Those of us in that boat should not ignore these people. Moreover, all of us – state employees or not — are members of these communities, and we have a responsibility to them.

But there are two points I want to stress about this move to make scholarship more widely available to the average person in the pew and on the street:

This is not something that every scholar can do and it is not something that every scholar should do.


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