Being Trained To Interpret Texts

In some rather surprising and ironic ways, I think my training in a particularly obscure and technical aspect of New Testament studies made me *more* qualified to write books for a general audience than most of my colleagues and peers.   Almost everyone I knew in my graduate program was interested almost exclusively in two areas of academic research: exegesis and New Testament theology.   I was interested in something that most of them did not care about in the least: textual criticism.  Let me explain the difference before discussing why an interest in the *least* reader-friendly field helped make me better able to make scholarship *more* reader-friendly. “Exegesis” is the technical term used for the science and art of interpretation of texts.  It may seem obvious to you that interpreting a text is a simple matter.  You read what it says and you understand it.  No problem, right?  Wrong.  In fact interpretation of texts is a highly complicated affair and requires both well-thought out methodology and rigorous discipline.   We spent many years – hard years of [...]