Thursday, November 25, 2010

Publish and Perish: Of Making Many Books

A few years ago, I asserted that the blooming Biblical Studies publishing industry--with its multiplied commentary series--is a sign of cancer rather than health. No doubt my view has some connection to the fact that I have not yet published any books of my own. If I were a Ben Witherington III with a commentary on every NT book to my name, I would presumably have a higher opinion of the industry.

As time goes on, I grow more comfortable with differences in gifting and ability. Some folks have a way with words, seem naturally to be prolific, and to write things worth reading. How many average composers does it take to make a Tchaikovsky, about whose 1812 Overture he wrote ". . . I have written two works very quickly . . . . The overture will be very loud and noisy, but probably has no artistic merit, as I wrote it without either warmth or love"?

Biblical scholarship is not--or should not be--a competition. So more power to the Wrights' and the Goldingay's. Nevertheless, instead of a Chesterton, I would rather take as my ideal the late great C.F.D. Moule, who published his first book at 40. And I like this description of Canon John Sweet: "He was equally clear that there were too many books in the world; and accordingly he himself wrote sparingly, and only when he had something to say."

1 comment:

Jeremy Myers said...

Bishop Moule published his first book at 40?! Yikes, I better get writing if I want to meet that goal...