NT Scholarship

From: Greg Carey (CAREY@rhodes.edu)
Date: Wed Jun 26 1996 - 17:18:37 EDT

I'm a PhD candidate in New Testament at Vanderbilt who teaches religious
studies in a liberal arts college. Today I ran a survey of Web pages from
various PhD programs, and I have a question: What should a NT scholar know?

If you look at Chicago, NT scholars need to know ancient Greek and Roman
history, culture, religion, a literature. They need to read the NT in the
broader context of early Jewish and Christian literature, at least up to
Augustine. Their languages (if I remember): Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Syriac.

Brown is a little different. Greek and Roman culture is still important;
Hebrew much less so. The northern part of the Mediterranean is the big deal.

Duke seems to be a little more theologically oriented.

Claremont? You'd better know Nag Hammadi, so read Coptic, too.

Lancaster? The history of interpretation, popular and scholarly, is an
emphasis there. You should know art history, lectionaries, theology, and the

At Vanderbilt, the emphasis is more toward literary and cultural studies. In
addition to ancient contexts (mostly northern Mediterranean), you learn method:
literary theory, the Bible in global context, social theory, and so forth.
Most folks finish with just Greek and Hebrew.

The above are all charicatures, but there's some truth to them. So what should
we know? We have Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts, the wider scope of early
Christian history and literature, the history of interpretation, literary
theory and method, and biblical interpretation in global context. Oh, and
those languages. (Does Derrida count as a language?) Obviously, no program is
doing all that. It would take, IMO, at least three years of coursework to
prepare PhD students for all this stuff. And it's all legitimate.

What do ya'll think?

Greg Carey 901-726-3977
Department of Religious Studies carey@rhodes.edu
Rhodes College
Memphis, TN 38112 USA

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