This question came up during our faculty meeting: Do you have to be published to be considered a scholar? For what it's worth, here are my two lepta. To be a scholar is to be a thinker. To be a thinker is to be a researcher. To be a researcher is to be a writer. And whatever you think is worth writing is worth having somebody other than yourself read. Does that make any sense? So to answer the question: To me an unpublished scholar is an oxymoron. The main reason we get our doctorates is to learn how to become lifelong students of Scripture (the dissertation being the least important thing we will ever write/publish). So, when I graduated from the University of Basel in 1983, I set the following goals for myself: one book every five years and one journal article every year. The Lord Jesus has kindly allowed me not only to meet but to surpass these goals. And on top of everything else I maintain a website (which is the modern-day equivalent of the printing press in terms of its potential for mass communication). Is this onerous? Not at all. Jesus said, "My yoke is easy, My burden is light." So what can we ever complain about? Having said all this, do I consider myself primarily a scholar? No. A writer? No. A teacher? No. Perhaps the best expression to describe who I am is shepherd (Eph. 4:11). My goal is to be the best "pastor" (shepherd) to my students that I can possibly be by God's grace. And to do this I need to be the best scholar, writer, and teacher that I can be. But a personal, caring, loving, sacrificial shepherding of my students is always my highest priority.
Like I said, just my two lepta.
One more thought before I go. I mentioned the Internet above. Occasionally I'll hear some slighting remarks about "all those blogs out there that are ruining the church." I'm amazed that anyone could have such a negative attitude toward blogging or websites in this age of cybernetics. Let me put it this way: If I publish a book it may take 5 years for 10,000 people to read it. But if I publish an essay on my website it may take a week for the same number of people to read it. And these people live in India, Ukraine, Brazil, all over the world in fact. Get the picture? And all of this for only 10 measly bucks a month. The Internet is such an incredibly effective tool for publishing that I am shocked at how few are using it effectively. My advice to you if you are a fledging scholar is to start a blog, publish it regularly (constant updating and good content are the two keys to any successful blog), and watch what it will do for your writing skills as you begin that first book project. And if I can give you any advice along way don't hesitate to contact me. I am happy to "shepherd" my web audience as well.