Thursday, April 30, 2009

So you want to be a scholar?

I suppose this is a compliment to an earlier post, "Why a PhD?". D. A. Carson gave the following (excellent!) advice to those who might have an inclination toward scholarship at the conference, "The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor." [You can access video/audio of Carson's address and video/audio of Piper's address, both worthy of your time].

The following list is taken from my own notes.
  1. Don't just be a 'quarter-master' (i.e., scholar)
  2. Beware the seduction of applause.
    • It can come from an academic direction (academic peer approval vs. Divine approval).
    • It can come from the conservative constituency of your friends ("I'm more conservative than you are.")
  3. Fight with every fiber of your being the false dichotomy of 'devotional study' and 'objective study'.
    • Be devout in your most critical, detailed exegesis.
    • Never develop an upstairs-downstairs mentality.
  4. Never forget that there are people out there for whom Christ died.
  5. Happily recognize that God distributes different gifts to various pastor-scholars.
    • Rejoice even more at scholars who are more productive than you are.
    • Learn from those who have gone ahead of you to be strategic.
  6. Recognize that students don't learn everything you teach them.
    • Ask, "What do they really learn in terms of life-long commitment." 
    • They learn what I'm excited about. 
  7. Make the main thing the main thing - teaching students the 'how' not just the 'what' - don't just know what is right, but where in the Bible it comes from.
  8. Pray and work for a scholarly vision beyond that which is offered by publishers.
    • Don't get owned by publishers!
  9. Love the church.
  10. Avoid 'lone-ranger' scholarship.
    • Francis Bacon said, "Reading maketh a full man; speaking maketh a quick man; writing maketh an exact man." You want to collaborate with others who read; speak with them, and write in their presence.
  11. Be at least as interested in the work of others as your own.
  12. Take the work seriously but not yourself.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Gospel of Mark

I recently ran across a blog post by Dr. Mark Goodacre discussing his view that the Centurion's cry in Mark 15:39 is a sarcastic one, intending to say something like, as Dr. Goodacre put it, "Huh, truly this fellow as a son of God!"? This 'ironic' interpretation is supported positively in the article--that is to say that it doesn't seem to be Dr. Goodacre's purpose to offer criticism against the alternative (popular) view at this point.

Whatever the centurion meant, irony is present. That a centurion would utter a genuine confession that Christ is the Son of God carries a certain 'shock value' for the reader. Alternatively, that a centurion would mock Christ with sarcasm with an 'unwitting proclamation of the truth' (to use the words of Cranfield, St Mark, 460) is equally shocking.

There is little doubt that Mark loves irony. One example I enjoy is in Mark 6. After crowds are amazed at Jesus' teaching (6:2), Jesus is amazed at the unresponsiveness of crowds in his hometown (6:6). Mark weaves this theme of 'amazement' through his Gospel to create irony [See: Dwyer, "The Motif of Wonder in the Gospel of Mark," JSNT, 57 (March 1995), 45-59).]

The amazing rhetoric throughout the Gospel of Mark testifies to its unity in composition and (in my view) its veracity. In regard to rhetoric and narrative coherance, I have found Timothy J. Geddert's commentary on Mark to be helpful. It is by no means technical, but I have not found a comparable commentary that exposes the narrative coherance of Mark.

By the way, have you reflected on the content of the centurion's statement? Are you shocked? Isn't that what Mark intended? What did Mark hope his readers would leave his narrative thinking? Believing? Doing? Do you suppose Mark would be dissapointed in your response?