I’ve been referring to the reactions that I received from my former classmates at Moody Bible Institute about some of my posts about what my experience was like there. Some of them, as I indicated, warned me of future judgment. Others made some a rather belittling comment: that I have written my books simply because I have wanted to become famous.
My sense is that nothing I say would ever change someone’s mind if that’s what they are already inclined to think, but I do want to say something about the matter from my own perspective.
When I started out in my publishing career, I had no idea at all of becoming well known and that certainly was not a goal of mine. Very, very far from it. My goal was to be a widely respected scholar among New Testament scholars; I wanted to become a world-class expert on the Greek manuscript tradition of the New Testament. I had no idea at all of reaching out to the general public in anything I wrote. I never planned to write a book that would be suitable for the shelves of Barnes & Noble. Quite the opposite.
As I’ve said before on the blog, my training was in technical areas of New Testament studies. Most of my graduate courses involved exegesis – that is, interpretation of various biblical books. But my real interest was in the field of textual criticism, the field that takes the surviving textual witnesses (Greek manuscripts, ancient translations into languages such as Latin, Syriac, and Coptic, and quotations of the New Testament in the writings of the church fathers) and uses them to determine (a) what the original text of the New Testament, as written by its authors, actually was and (b) how and why it had become changed over the centuries.
My dissertation was an unusually detailed and mind-numbingly detailed analysis of the quotations of the Gospels in the writings of the fourth-century church father Didymus the Blind. When people tell me “I’ve read all your books,” I sometimes ask them, “Did you enjoy Didymus the Blind and the Text of the Gospels?” Say what?
My goal after that …
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