Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ad Fontes

Stephen Carlson at Hypotyposeis has a good blog entry on starting out in biblical studies and not getting carried away with secondary literature without first spending time in the primary stuff first. A good tip for all young players.

I remember reading an interview with I. Howard Marshall in Themelios some years back and, in particular, I remember Howard being asked what advice he would give to younger scholars and students. His reply was that young students should try to make the primary sources their mistress! Ever since I read that I’ve tried to balance the amount of primary and secondary literature I’ve consumed – all the more important when considering that a Ph.D should be immersed in primary source documents.

The habit I’ve formed is to read two NT chapters and one OT chapter a day; and if possible, do the NT readings in Greek.

In between books I also try to read at least one document from either the DSS, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo or Apostolic Fathers. My primary source readings in the last rotation have included Tobit, 4Q521; Migration of Abraham, Against Apion, and now I’m reading the letters of Ignatius in the Apostolic Fathers.

It is not hard. You can read 4Q521 or 4QMMT in about 10 minutes. Even reading Josephus’ Antiquities book 18 is nice afternoon read as well.

My aim has been to cultivate habits like this in the hope that it will enable me to become a more effective scholar and teacher.

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