Thursday, May 28, 2009

I like being a generalist

Michael Bird and Craig Keener have an excellent article on the SBL forum about why we need "generalist" scholars in biblical studies. The topic resonated with me as I've been having a difficult time facing the prospect of specializing for the dissertation. My interests have always been broad and wide-ranging. I guess that's what happens when you're a history major studying everything that happened from the beginning of time up to the recent past.  Part of the attraction of studying Hebrew Bible was that it ties in with so many of my other interests.  Here's a list of my general interests in order of importance.  Because of the nature of my program, I'll have to specialize near the top of the list.
1.  Hebrew Bible: Pentateuch (esp. Genesis and Deuteronomy), Job, Isaiah, and Psalms.
2.  Early Biblical Interpretation: inner-biblical exegesis, Dead Sea Scrolls, rabbinic literature, New Testament, Targum, Peshitta, LXX
3.  Northwest Semitic epigraphy and paleography (Aramaic, Phoenician, Ugaritic)
4.  History of ancient Israel & the ancient Near East
5.  Israelite religions in the context of religions in the ANE
6.  Religious Studies (History of Religions, Sociology of Religions) - especially Judaism, Christianity, and Islam from origins through the Middle Ages.
7.  History of the Classical World: ancient Rome
8.  History of Biblical Interpretation: medieval Jewish and Christian interpretation, Reformation
9.  Bible Translation & Translation Studies
10.  Biblical Theology
And that's just the Bible-related list of interests. Now if only I could narrow things down enough to specialize for just a few years . . .

Other bloggers on this topic: Charles Halton; Nijay Gupta; Mark Goodacre; Pat McCullough


  1. I'd appreciate it if you could avoid Job, since I'd like to specialize in that at some point, and it'd be helpful if I had at least one more option in that area. ;-)

    Seriously though, good luck with the search for a topic.

  2. Funny you should say that . . . one of my potential topic ideas involves Job. What else are you interested in? I'm always looking for more ideas . . . ;)

  3. doubt. Good luck either way though, even if you do end up writing something concerning Job. At least I'll get something to read out of it. ;-)