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What Do We Call It? Coming Up with a Book Title.

I am at a critical juncture in my current writing project, and thought I could provide an update on my progress over a few posts.  Today I talk about titles As I earlier indicated on the blog, I am tentatively calling the book:  The Triumph of Christianity: How the Followers of Jesus Destroyed the Religions of Rome.   I’m not sure what the final title will be – this is just what I’m working with for now.   The main title (Triumph of Christianity) is pretty secure, I think.  It is what I proposed to my publisher (Simon & Schuster) when I first floated a prospectus of the book before them to see if they were interested in publishing it, and they were (and I think are) enthusiastic about it.  The subtitle is simply the best I could come up with.  I rather like it, but I’m not sure they will. Titles are complicated affairs, as I’ve mentioned (a long time ago) on the blog.  For an *academic* book (that is, a scholarly book written for scholars), [...]

Titles for Trade Books, Like Misquoting Jesus

In my previous post I discussed the strategies behind giving a title to a scholarly book.   When it comes to trade books, written for popular audiences, it is a different ballgame altogether.   Whereas scholarly books are meant to sound erudite and learned, or if  they are meant to be “clever” then only clever to those on the academic inside who catch the allusions, trade books are meant to be witty and intriguing for a general reader, and a sign that the book will be really interesting and about something that the reader wants to learn more about.  In the best cases, the reader – a non-scholar – should read the title and think, “Huh, I’d like to know about that!” or “Huh, I wonder that that’s about.”   The trick is to be able to grab a reader’s attention without being overly sensationalized, and that’s a very fine line indeed. It’s hard to know whether a title will accomplish its task or not.  I thought my last book “How Jesus Became God” would be a real [...]

2020-04-03T16:36:30-04:00August 29th, 2014|Book Discussions|

Titles of Scholarly Books

In my previous post I talked about how I chose a scholarly-sounding title for my scholarly book on the use of literary forgery in the early Christian tradition.   All of the titles for my scholarly books are ones that I’ve chosen, and they are all meant to signal that the book is … scholarly. A number of my scholarly titles have been very straightforward – informative but not scintillating (and not meant to be scintillating).   My first attempt at a title was for my dissertation, and I realized afterward that there was a bit of a problem with it.   I wrote the dissertation at Princeton Theological Seminary under Bruce Metzger, who was (and is) without peer, in my opinion and everyone else’s, as the leading NT textual scholar America has ever produced.   It was an amazing and humbling experience working under him.   I was his final doctoral student, and he and I became very close. The dissertation topic was one he suggested to me.  It involved combing through the newly discovered Old Testament commentaries of [...]

2020-04-03T16:36:37-04:00August 28th, 2014|Book Discussions|
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