Joshua Jipp on “What makes a good Biblical Scholar or Theologian?”

A few things come to mind for biblical students who want to be scholars and teachers:

1. Work hard to know the primary sources that give us windows into the ancient world/world of the Bible.

2. As you do that, make sure you don’t get lazy or give up time reading the Scriptures (and when appropriate, in the original languages).

3. Work to know the history of biblical interpretation. But situate your work and your thoughts with respect to the primary texts first!

4. Don’t be afraid to be creative! Pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Read, think, and ask questions that have existential/ethical significance. In other words, don’t just stay in Bible-land all the time.

5. Related to #4, being a biblical scholar requires a lot of hard work and discipline, but devote yourself as best as you can to committing yourself to your family, friends, church, etc.

~Joshua Jipp, Associate Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

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Tavis Bohlinger

Dr. Tavis Bohlinger is Editor-in-Chief of the Logos Academic Blog and Creative Director at Reformation Heritage Books. He holds a PhD from Durham University and writes across multiple genres, including academia, poetry, and screenwriting. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three children.

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  • Your comments, Joshua, fit well with something I’ve said throughout my career as a pastor. Scripture scholars, theologians, etc. need to be involved in churches, and pastors need to be thoroughly involved with scholastic study of scripture and the world. On both sides, we must engage in the best thought (original languages, the scriptures, the world community and the local community and what each is discussing). Then we can teach or preach something worthwhile in the place where we live and serve the Lord. Discipline is required, but not at the expense of our family life.
    Thank you!

  • Thank you for this article. Humility is very much needed in both learning and loving the ways in which God teaches us.

  • I think our Apostle Paul said it best: 2 Ti 2: 14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
    15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
    17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,
    18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
    19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

    Indeed, possibly a medical term Hippocrates may have coined, to be sure a spreading insidious disease that characterizes the Word of God as ‘Bible-land’. Our pastorates and societies have such a problem with just their ability to orient to reality these days, much less function in it.

Written by Tavis Bohlinger