Re: What NT scholars need to know (addenda to Krentz)

From: Edgar M. Krentz (
Date: Fri Jun 28 1996 - 10:32:12 EDT

To Greg Carey's response to Edward Hobbs on Krentz. I have only one
reaction--found at the end of this posting.
>This comment concerns me. First, Edward's right. Three years isn't nearly
>enough. But second, it seems to go against the spirit of Edgar's post. As I
>understood him, Edgar was saying that twenty or thirty years wouldn't be
>enough, either, and I agree.
>My third reservation worries me most. Four years before the dissertation, not
>counting languages, and with a 3-year theological degree (which, when Edward
>did it, would have included far more in language and exegesis than current
>degrees)--well, assuming we got started right out of college, we'd all be 32
>years old before we could leave school! (And Edward didn't include
>contemporary literary and critical theory.) Given current career prospects,
>that seems a lot to ask. Who pays for all this? What about our families?
>I might add that no other humanities field requires as much for the PhD as we
>do already. To the requirements in Classics, we're adding material in
>early Christianity, and the ANE. Yikes!
>None of the above is intended as whining. I love to learn! But what strikes
>me, as one PhD candidate in one top-flight NT program, is that what I know
>isn't nearly the same as what other people know. I recently had a talk with a
>prominent HB scholar who did his work at Harvard. He said I should know more
>languages. (I have Hebrew, classical and Koine Greek, German, French, and run-
>to-the-dictionary Latin.) When I asked him how often his teaching and
>employed his Akkadian and Ugaritic, he said, "Not yet." Then I asked how much
>my background in literary and rhetorical theory would help, and he admitted
>that it would be extremely valuable.
>No way am I a better scholar than my friend! I'm merely saying that only a
>handful of scholars--including the faculties at Chicago, Vandy, and other
>places--are truly competent in the array of methods that are out there.
>Sorry for the long post. Thanks, Edward!
I still have a lot to learn, e.g. I do not know Coptic [wish I did] and so
cannot claim first hand knowledge of the Nag Hammadi texts. I think that I
will do that when I retire.

I came from a different generation. My father preached German every Sunday
in a Lutheran parish until I started HS and I was raised partly bi-lingual.
Before I began seminary I had five years of Latin (HS & college), five
years of German [with ability in German conversation], and four years of
Greek. In seminary I added Hebrew and translated the entire GNTY by
graduation--writing out my own vocabulary lists along the way. I used
German throughout my seminary education. Bauer's Lexicon, BDF and Kittel's
TDNT was not yet out in English; I had to read German to use the tools I
wanted--to say nothing of another grammar of the NTL Radermacher.

I have sympathy with today's students. American secondary and collegiate
education usually leave us linguistically impoverished. And that means that
Americans begin graduate studies far behind their European peers. You are
pretty far ahead of many in that respect, Greg. Now OU POLL' ALLA POLU.That
Greek proverb says that retaining language is like Chinese water torture. a
little bit each day and you'll have it.

I don't think Edward Hobbs and I disagree in our responses to you. We each
simply reflected where we came from and what we learned along the way. Keep
at it and it will be there!

Edgar Krentz <>
Luthran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615
Off: 312-256-0752 H: 312-947-8105

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