Wednesday, April 10, 2013

knowing less and less

In his biblical theology, Charles Scobie reflects on the "massive amounts of new material produced by archaeological investigation, as well as the proliferation of interpretive methodologies and the seemingly endless output of secondary literature" in biblical studies. He laments, "This results in ever increasing specialization, so that many no longer consider themselves even OT or NT scholars but concentrate on a narrow area of specialization; in other words, biblical scholars tend to know more and more about less and less" (The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology, p. 27, emphasis mine).


This is uncomfortably true. You can easily become a "Paul" scholar or a "Gospels" scholar in New Testament, or an expert on "Law" or "Wisdom" or "Psalms" in the Old Testament. It's very difficult to stay abreast of all the scholarship on the whole Bible. Impossible, actually. But the Church needs the whole Word of God, not just a piece of it. That's why Scobie wrote his massive, 1000-page book. And that's why I'm glad I have to read it. Because when you spend your days staring hour after hour at one little bit of Scripture, it's helpful to step back and refresh your sense of the big picture.

In a way, I do know more and more about less and less. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know about other things. But that's not altogether bad. Realizing what we don't know is the first step to learning something new. And we have the rest of our lives to dig deeper.

1 comment:

  1. As always, such a helpful, insightful post, Carmen. I printed it out to share with my ABF when I teach next month.