Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Twenty Years of Biblical Scholarship

My collection of John Meier's four-volume series on Jesus A Marginal Jew  is now complete. Volume 4: Law and Love came out in 2009, nineteen years after Volume I: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, which was published in 1991, the year I entered college.

It occurred to me that reading through all four volumes of Meier's opus would be a nice way to mark my 20th year in Biblical Studies, but I hesitate for 3 reasons:

  1. It just won't happen. The text and endnotes of Meier's four volumes add up to a whopping 2792 pages, and he is not finished: I understand that volume 5 (on parables) is underway; volume 6 will apparently tackle Jesus' death. Much as I'd like to--and Meier is a fine writer--I don't have time this year to read that much in this area.
  2. At this stage, my research interests have more to do with the historical Jews than with the historical Jesus. Meier's extensive treatment of Jesus' Companions and Competitors in volume 3 and of Law and Love in volume 4 justify my purchasing the volumes, but for now I'll have to content myself with a periodic perusal.

3. Reading primary sources is more valuable than reading secondary sources. I wish, for example, that I had time to follow along with the students in this semester's Senior Humanities Seminar whose reading list includes Homer's Odyssey, Cicero, On the Good Life, Plato's Republic and Gorgias, as well as selections from Augustine, Lucretius, Seneca, Sophocles, and Isocrates.


Edith said...

20 yrs...wow! O.k. I don't have any more funny or wise or anything words to say. Like the pictures though.ma

Steve said...

Looks like you are passing your appreciation of Meiers onto your children or child...LOL.