Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bird's Top 25 NT Scholars

Like others, I have enjoyed Michael Bird's Top 25 NT Scholars and of course the fun of it is to be impressed, outraged and amused, not necessarily in equal measure. The real problem, I suppose, is doing the list across 20 centuries. I can't even begin to think about how Origen compares with C. K. Barrett, or how Luther can Calvin compare with Bultmann and Käsemann. So I will only comment on the moderns. I suppose I'd want to see Bultmann and Sanders a bit higher; I think the list is a bit evangelical heavy -- Wright too high, Howard Marshall and F. F. Bruce I'd delete. I think I like the idea of Bauckham making it, but I'd push down a few places. Of Michael's honorable mentions, I'd promote one to my 25 -- Gerd Theissen. There are some absentees who don't even make it to Michael's honourable mentions, and who would make my list, viz.:
  • John Dominic Crossan
  • W. D. Davies
  • Helmut Koester
  • Michael Goulder
  • Wayne Meeks
  • Nils Alstrup Dahl
  • Krister Stendahl
  • Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
  • Dale Allison
  • Christopher Rowland
  • Bruce Metzger
  • Bart Ehrman
All of those have in some way broken new ground and have stimulated the imagination in such important ways that they deserve a place on the list above those very fine scholars Michael does mention, but who have not quite changed the landscape.

Update (Sunday, 23.16): Doug Chaplin comments on Metacatholic. He also wants to see Theissen and Meeks there.


Stephen C. Carlson said...

Westcott and Hort have to be up there too. Everybody is still using their text (basically) of the NT.

Christopher Shell said...

I suppose I would also use the test of time as a criterion. For example there are scholars (did anyone mention Bultmann) who stimulate the imagination continually, yet are proven spectacularly wrong. By any reckoning, truth and accuracy must rank higher than stimulating the imagination. Overuse of the second criterion would lead to promotion of mavericks, often justly, and also often unjustly.
But the 'stimulus of imagination' criterion is also highly important: geniuses, people who can think outside the box, precious people who dont just accept the prevailing paradigms. If one were to relegate e.g. Bruce and Marshall (and various other Scottish/Irish Celts, Crossan excepted?), it could be for lack of originality. Yet lack of originality can sometimes mask sane judgment and flight from over-promotion of one's own new ideas. So Bruce might just get back in.

Michael F. Bird said...

Fair enough comments. Esp. guys like Ehrman, Crossan, etc. I knew I wouldn't please everyone :-) Feel free to compile your own list! I like Christopher's comments, sometimes sobriety counts just as much as innovation.

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Going with the test of time approach H. Alford and H.A.W. Meyer both continue to cited. They were neither existentialists nor post-structuralists so for some dull reading but for the same reason their insights are still valuable whereas existentialism is a fossil and post-structuralism is becoming overripe.