I’ll never forget the day when I was sitting among other recently admitted post-grads at the University of Aberdeen in the presence of the I. Howard Marshall. Make no mistake about it: although we remained in our chairs, we were sitting at Howard’s feet.
Humbly and gracefully, Howard allowed us to ask him a number of questions. I think it was Mark Deneui who asked something like: “Out of the host of students you’ve supervised throughout the decades, is there one factor you’ve found that separates a great scholar from the rest?” Howard responded by checking things off the list. It wasn’t intelligence—all of his students had that. Neither was it a good work ethic—to be in a PhD program assumed that. Howard continued discarding the very qualities many of us considered set us apart: resilience, pedigree, proclivity to languages, and so on.
Finally, Howard came to his conclusion. We braced ourselves for it. We couldn’t wait to hear the opinion of one of the best New Testament scholars in the history of the academy. A quiet hush filled the room when Howard said that, throughout his tenure, the one trait that made a student emerge from the already extraordinary crowd was creativity.
~ Joseph R. Dodson, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Ouachita Baptist University