Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Top 25 NT scholars, here is 25 - 1! With ammendments!!!

There's alot of guys I'd liked to have included, but they didn't make the cut: Ben Witherington, L.T. Johnson, Charles Talbert, C.F.D. Moule, John Knox, M.D. Hooker, Graham Stanton, Peter Stuhlmacher, Scot McKnight, Oscar Cullmann, John Meier, John Barclay, J.L. Martyn, J.A.T. Robinson, A. Thiselton, H. Cabury, Wayne Meeks, John Dom Crossan, etc.

Criteria for inclusion is:

(1) Has made a recognizable contribution to NT scholarship and (2) their works either have or shall endure the test of time. These include authors who are my favourites and one's that I think are influential (at least upon me).

25. Richard Hays

His book The Moral Vision of the New Testament is a classic. Similarly his work on narrative theology and his championing of the subjective genitive reading of pistis christou warrant a ranking. His 1 Corinthians commentary also challenges the consensus of a realized eschatology at Corinth (instead the problem was not enough eschatology).

24. Adolf Schlatter

Underrated German scholar who wrote some good NT Theology books (only now available in English). Apparently memorized the entire Gk NT and TDNT was dedicated to him!

23. G. Bornkamm

His book Jesus of Nazareth is the best of the 2nd Quest. His book on Paul is quite disappointing, however, he did pave the way for work on redaction criticism in Matthew.

22. T.W. Manson

British scholar who worked mainly on the Gospels and the Jesus Tradition and produced several notable works like The Sayings of Jesus.

21. I. Howard Marshall

Still a sharp evangelical scholar known mainly for his commentaries on Luke-Acts, Johannine Epistles, Thessalonians and also the Pastorals. Various other studies on the atonement, perseverance, biblical interpretation guarantee his legacy.

20. Gerd Theissen

In hindsight, leaving him out was a mistake. Works on sociology on the NT were significant, I have enjoyed his studies on the historical Jesus in particular.

19. Joseph Fitzmyer

Catholic scholar who has made contributions to study of the DSS, Paul (Romans commentary; Pauline Theology) and especially Luke-Acts.

18. Hans Conzelmann

His work on Luke changed the course of study and impacted ideas of Christian eschatology.

17. F.F. Bruce

Commentaries on Acts (English and Greek text) are still models of scholarship and how philology, Archaeology, theology and history all go together. Bruce was the pioneer evangelical NT scholar. My college, Highland Theological College, has even named a lecture series after him. His New Testament History is still the best NT history book around in my view (over Barnett and Witherington). So many smaller books as well which made scholarship accessible to lay people (watch out - I might send him up the list later).

16. Raymond E. Brown

One of the finest Catholic scholars of his generation. His work on Johannine materials is well known. More importantly his massive works: Birth of the Messiah and Death of the Messiah are classics.

15. Richard Bauckham

I like anything this guy writes. He has that uncanny ability to take stock standard assumptions of scholarship and show how tenuous they are. At the moment I'm closing reading his Gospel for All Christians and continue to be impressed. His various articles on eye-witnesses and the Gospel tradition, parting of the ways, Son of God, etc. are all worth reading and frequently cited. Studies in Revelation are classics for that area of study. One scholar I could handle be stranded on an Island with.

14. Joachim Jeremias

German scholar who was doing serious Jesus study when it wasn't fashionable any more. His views of Aramaic are a bit antiquated now, but his work on the parables, eucharistic words of Jesus, NT Theology are classics. I spent my Ph.D thesis trying to refute his book Jesus' Promise to the Nations. Both a learned and pious man.

13. C.H. Dodd

One of the great 'Chucks' of British scholarship (with Barrett and Moule). His realized eschatology was a corrective to Schweitzer/Weiss (though he went too far), his work on the parables is memorable as his work on tradition and interpretation in the fourth Gospel. Other books on the Apostolic message and Jesus as the Founder of Christianity are good reading. There is a limerick about him too:

There once was a man called Dodd
Who had a name that was exceedingly odd
He spelt, if you please,
His name with three D's
When one is sufficietn for God

12. C.K. Barrett

What can I say, commentaries on John, Romans and 1 Corinthians are still worth looking at today. Other stuff on the Jesus Tradition in the Gospels and the Holy Spirit in the Gospels worthwhile too. His Acts ICC commentary is the standard for commentary writing and he has some useful small books on Paul and other NT Themes

11. Ernst Kasemann

Iconoclast German scholar who was of the Bultmannian school, but still his own man. He single handed re-initiated the 2d Quest for the Historical Jesus (in Germany anyway), interesting interpretation of the "Righteousness of God", a great Romans commentary and his dispute with Stendahl is classic.

10. Martin Hengel

My favourite German scholar. His works on the Gospel of Mark, Judaism, Zealots, Historical Jesus, Paul, Septuagint etc, all good stuff.

9. James D. G. Dunn

Starting in the 70s Dunn was writing good stuff on the Holy Spirit, then he moved to Paul and was part of the vanguard of the New Perspective. Works on Christology, the Parting of the Ways, Pauline Theology, the Unity and Diversity of NT, and now a massive 'Christianity in the Making' project. Must meet this guy some day.

8. N.T. Wright

Probably todays leading evangelical scholar - his early work on Paul (Climax of the Covenant, Colossians) are good reads. His Christian Origins and the Question of God series changed the way I think about the NT, Jesus and God.

7. E.P. Sanders & Albert Scweitzer

I declare number 7 a draw!

Sanders' work on Paul, Jesus and Judaism makes him one of the most influential scholars of the last 30 years. At the root of Sanders I think was Schweitzer, and the Old missionary doctor himself deserves a place in the top 10 (my oversight) given his works on Jesus and Paul.

6. Rudolf Bultmann

Major works on Diatribe in Romans, History of the Synoptic Tradition, NT Theology, commentaries on John and 2 Corinthians, major studies on theology too. (Though I still think that he was primarily an existentialist and NT was just his medium).

5. F.C. Baur

The Father of modern NT study, his work on Paul set the benchmark of study, particularly his analysis of Galatians.

4. Origen

Early Church Father was a master of language, and erudite. Don't let his allegorizing put you off, he still knew how to wrestle with the text.

3. John Calvin

Though primarily a systematic theologian, Calvin still composed superb and timeless commentaries on nearly everybook of the NT except Revelation because, he said, 'I donnot understand it'.

2. J.B. Lightfoot

The Old Master himself, treat on textual criticism, his paraphrases of NT passages in Colossians and Galatians are still excellent to cite in Sermons. Translations of the Apostolic Fathers too.

1. Martin Luther

'Exegesis is learned from the Masters' says Stephen Westerholm and he correctly had Luther in mind. His discovery of the 'righteousness of God' changed the course of history.

And in the words of the great American philosopher, Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.


Patt said...

well done

Loren Rosson III said...

I'll be quite interested in seeing this one.

Ben Myers said...

And shame on you if you don't give Bultmann the number 1 place. ;)

J. B. Hood said...

Could you also say a few words about criteria for membership in the list? Influence, precision, innovation? And how would you define scholar?

It might be safer to make a list of the top 25 NT academics...

See you next week in Scotland.

Brandon Wason said...

You're the most daring blogger I know! I too look forward to the rest of your list.

TheBlueRaja said...

Nice. I'm waiting for the rest with baited breath.

TheBlueRaja said...

Unless I've unwittingly swallowed a tackle box that should read, "bated breath".

Michael Pahl said...

Hmmm... Already interesting choices, but evaluation of these selections has to wait until the whole list is completed. I'm looking forward to it!

Sean du Toit said...

But ya said ya weren't going to include Conzelmann?

And if Dodd doesn't make your top 10 list: may a thousand Dr Peppers flood your fridge! May your wife and children be converted to her drops of pure bliss...


Ben Myers said...

I was interested in your top 10 -- glad you didn't forget about F. C. Baur or Origen. But what about Luther's great nemesis, Erasmus? Did you just forget about him, or do you really think he's not among the top 25?

I'm glad too that Calvin was seated in a place of honour. And, incidentally, I don't think it's actually true to say that he was primarily a systematic theologian. He was primarily an expositor of Scripture, and the vast bulk of his time and writing was taken up with commentaries, not with doctrine. Even the great Institutio claimed to be nothing more than a handbook to facilitate the study of Scripture and of Calvin's commentaries.

Eric Thurman said...

Great conversation starter. Strong list, too, though Mark Goodacre was right about it being top-heavy with evangelical scholars. I'd add that it privileges conventional "historical critics" too much as well. What about Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza? Ched Myers? Richard Horsley? What about David Rhoads and those who pioneered "narrative criticism"? Maybe, from a post-post-modern perspective, newer approaches have yet to show their lasting significance?

Dave said...

Interesting list.

Strange how modern scholars occupy all the lower cases but there are only a handful of old ones but they are all top notch.

Its hard to compare those from different times, and yet its also hard to evaluate the moderns without the test of time.

Just one question: where you find that Calvin quote on Revelation? I'd be interested to know.

I remember once hearing DA Carson say he once heard FF Bruce once say that Calvin didn't write a commentary on Revelation because he was too good an exegete but didn't want to upset all his friends who thought that Babylon the great should be identified with the Church of Rome! Carson admitted though that he wasn't sure that Bruce wasn't being a bit tongue in cheek.

Rafael Rodriguez said...

wait a minute . . . where's James Crossley?!

Rob Bradshaw said...

Good list, but Was Origen a "Master of Languages"? I thought that it was generally held now that he was dependent on others for his knowledge of Hebrew in his work on the Hexapla.

Keep up the good work,


Alan S. Bandy said...

Very nicely done. Thanks for including Schlatter. Is the descending order indicative of the importance of each scholar? I would question if Luther should be ranked #1 (unless, of course, you are thinking in terms of dominating influence on they way generations of scholars have read Paul).

David Bielby said...

I would like to nominate Greg Beale for his breakthrough commentary on Revelation. The exhaustive documentation of the Danielic influence in Revelation overtakes all previous works on this climax of the scripture.

Kepha said...

Thanks for your list. I'm also glad to see Calvin listed so highly.But I think one reason why Calvin was such a great systematic theologian was because he was first and foremost a theologian of the Word.