Book Review: E. Randolph Richards and Joseph R. Dodson, A Little Book for New Bible Scholars

Richards, E. Randolph and Joseph R. Dodson. A Little Book for New Bible Scholars. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2018. 116 pp. Pb. $9.00   Link to IVP Academic  

This new addition to IVP Academic’s Little Book series is an encouragement to fall in love with the noble calling of biblical studies. Previous books in the series include Kelly Kapic (for new theologians), Paul Copan (for new philosophers) and Josh Reeves and Steve Donaldson, (for new scientists). E. Randolph Richards is a veteran of biblical studies, having written many articles and books, including Misreading Scripture through Western Eyes and Paul Behaving Badly (both with Brandon J. O’Brien) and contributed to Rediscovering Jesus (with David Capes and Rodney Reeves). Joseph Dodson is a professor of biblical studies at Ouachita Baptist University and has contributed several books including The ‘Powers’ of Personification: Rhetorical Purpose in the ‘Book of Wisdom’ and the Letter to the Romans (DeGruyter, 2008).

Randolph Richards, Joseph R. Dodson, A Little Book for New Bible ScholarsRichards and Dodson believe the church needs quality biblical scholars who work with the biblical text, do quality exegesis, or produce material which illuminates the text of the Bible. In this book they offer advice to students who are working towards a career in academia. They point out bad exegesis dilutes and distorts the gospel and can actually hurt members of the body of Christ (49). A career in biblical studies may take the form of pastoral ministry or teaching in the majority world. The church needs well-trained pastors to provide biblical based answers to the sloppy and dangerous use of the Bible common among many congregations.

Some of the advice in the book is familiar. For example, Richards and Dodson encourage students to work on their own spiritual life, to be involved in church and community (don’t be a hermit), and to be aware scholarship can “puff up.” The call on biblical scholars is to serve in ministry (101) and take care of their heart (105). They warn new biblical scholars to avoid fads, citing the example of the resurgence of Reformed theology among younger Christians. Dodson sheepishly confesses he did devotions using the Westminster Catechism (he now considers himself a “recovering Calvinist”). The trouble is distinguishing between fad and a serious movement within scholarship, but that is for another book.

Perhaps the most important chapter in the book is their admonition to remember biblical studies is an “equal opportunity vocation.” Take a look around most sessions at national scholarly meetings (ETS or SBL); participants are mostly white and mostly male. Richards and Dodson want to encourage people outside western academia to become scholars and contribute to biblical studies. They quote Lynn Cohick at length on her career as a biblical scholar (82-3). But this section of the book wants to avoid putting scholars into pigeon-holes based on ethnicity or gender. A Latino does not only create a “Latino reading” nor should a female scholar’s work be considered “a woman’s view” of the text. If a person is contributing good scholarship then they should not be put into some subcategory (and potentially disregarded as only offering a female perspective).

The book includes a series of quotes from established biblical scholars. Many of these pass along advice the scholar received from an older scholar.

A Little Book for New Bible Scholars is an inexpensive book which would make an excellent gift to a student who is working hard at a biblical studies degree, whether in a Christian undergraduate program, seminary, or at Ph.D level. Older scholars reading this book will recognize some of their own advice to students and perhaps remember their first love for biblical studies.

Here is a short book trailer with Joseph Dodson:

 

NB: Thanks to IVP Academic for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

 

Evangelical Quarterly 1929-2011 Now On-Line

Evangelical Quarterly Digitisation

Rob Bradshaw at BiblicalStudies.uk.org has been scanning theological journals and other resources for many years, with more than 32,000 articles available for free download. He just added Evangelical Quarterly. As Rob explains on his blog,

The Evangelical Quarterly (1929-present) represents a tremendous resource for Bible students. It contains contributions from the best of 20th Century Evangelical scholarship, including G.W. Bromiley, I. Howard Marshall and F.F. Bruce. This morning I completed the digitisation of the back-issuesa project that I have been working on for over 10 years. Paternoster Publication’s archive of this journal was destroyed in the 1990s, so a complete set of scans has been sent to the current publisher. I would like to acknowledge the assistance of a number of UK Bible College who provided copies for scanning, including Highland Theological CollegeWycliffe Hall and Tyndale House.

Just browsing the table of contents, I can see many articles which are valuable for biblical and theological studies. One thing that makes this particularly important is that Evangelical Quarterly does not appear in the ATLA database in full text PDF. I have been occasionally frustrated by finding a pertinent article in EQ then not having access through the ATLA database. This new collection solves that problem.

Most, but not all all of the articles are online in PDF format due to Paternoster’s copyright policy: after one year the copyright reverts to the author, so he must contact each of authors of the 1500+ article individually for permission. If you are copyright holder and have not given your permission, contact Rob so he can add your article to this collection.

I want to thank Rob for making this database available. If you have not used his site, certainly visit it and see what is available. Leave a donation to help keep the servers running.

Last Call for the February Biblical Studies Carnival

Donkey Pick MeAaron White at Moisissumus Mose is making his final preparations for the February 2014 Biblical Studies Carnival, so this is the last call to throw a few links his way. Submit your favorite links this month in Theological and Biblical Studies to Brian and return to New Testament Exegesis to see his selections. As usual, at the first of the month there are usually a number of other specialized link collections to look forward to as well.

I desperately need volunteers to host in March (due 4/1) and April (due 5/1). Jeff Carter has May (due 6/1), but the rest of the year is wide open. If you have hosted a carnival in the past, consider

If you would like to host a Carnival on your site, please let me know via email (plong42 at gmail.com), or leave a comment below. Carnivals quite fun to assemble and are a great way to attract attention to your blog.

January 2014 Biblical Studies Carnival XCV

Carnival TImeBrian Renshaw posted the Biblical Studies Carnival XCV for January 2014 at New Testament Exegesis.  Brian has done an excellent job, including all the usual categories, but also a collection of book reviews and interviews. I appreciate his “New Blogs” section, since there a few I did not know before this carnival.  I am looking for volunteers for hosting future carnivals, so new bloggers take note – contact me via email or in a comment below and volunteer for an upcoming Carnival.  I think that Brian’s use of Google Docs to create a submission form for links was a great idea – maybe he can share his nerdish knowledge with future carnival curators.

In other Biblioblog news, Jim West offers a collection of firsts for his first carnival of the year. Brian Small has a nice collections of Hebrews Highlights for the month at Polumeros kai Polutropos, and when Abram K-J posts his Septuagint Soirée I will add a link here.

Aaron White at Moisissumus Mose will be our host next month, but I need volunteers to host in March (due 4/1) and April (due 5/1). Jeff Carter has May (due 6/1), but the rest of the year is wide open. If you would like to host a Carnival on your site, please let me know via email (plong42 at gmail.com), or leave a comment below. Carnivals quite fun to write and are a great way to attract attention to your site.

Final Countdown to the January Biblical Studies Carnival

keep-calm-it-s-the-final-countdownBrian Renshaw is making his final preparations for the Biblical Studies Carnival XCV for January 2014 at New Testament Exegesis.  He has countdown and an extremely impressive form for submissions. Submit your favorite links this month in Theological and Biblical Studies to Brian and return to New Testament Exegesis to see his selections. As usual, at the first of the month there are usually a number of other carnivals and festival, maybe a fiesta or a fête, and if we are lucky a gala or jamboree.

Aaron White at Moisissumus Mose will be our host next month, but I need volunteers to host in March (due 4/1) and April (due 5/1). Jeff Carter has May (due 6/1), but the rest of the year is wide open. If you would like to host a Carnival on your site, please let me know via email (plong42 at gmail.com), or leave a comment below. Carnivals quite fun to assemble and are a great way to attract attention to your site.

Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology

Rob Bradshaw over at Biblical Studies.uk has posted volumes 6-10 (2002-2006) of the now defunct Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology.  This journal was associated with the Caribbean Evangelical Association.  Many of the authors are associated with Caribbean schools, such as the Jamaican Theological Seminary and the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology.  (If either school needs someone to teach a short seminar on New Testament studies in late February or March, I would entertain offers!)

Articles in this journal have an interest in church and mission issues, such as the two-part article by Clinton A. Chisholm, “Afrocentricity & Black Consciousness: Challenges for Christianity.”  Other highlights include Earlmont Williams, “The Missionary Message of First Thessalonians,” CJET  7 (2003): 22-40; and in the same issue Erica Campbell, “Ecclesiastes: Mission in a Post-Modern / Post-Christian World,” CJET 7 (2003): 41-56.

All articles are available as PDF files and are readable on a wide variety of platforms.  The articles are posted with permission from the respective copyright holders. I downloaded several articles and sent them to my Kindle account for reading with the Kindle app on my iPod (see screenshot).

Once again, thanks to Rob Bradshaw for making this material available.