Friday, October 15, 2010

Boring book titles and interesting books

Sean Winter comments that one of the greats, E. P. Sanders, confessed to dull book titles.  But of course if you are E. P. Sanders and you write a book on Jesus and Judaism, then that combination automatically makes the book interesting.  Ed Sanders is one of the only scholars who combines expertise in New Testament scholarship with genuine expertise in early Judaism, so if anyone should write a book called Jesus and Judaism, he should.

It occurs to me as another element in this discussion that there are some books that have titles that degrade in translation.  Hans Conzelmann's brilliantly appropriate title Die Mitte der Zeit (The Middle of Time) was translated into the terribly dull and generic Theology of St Luke.  As it happens, though, it is a very boring book, perhaps the most boring influential book written in our area.  Legend has it that one of its early reviewers said that he only knew that he had come to the end of the book because there was no more of it.

1 comment:

Ken said...

At least for academic books, I prefer titles that give me some idea of what the book is about to those that are exciting or provocative. Of course, may academic titles these days are in the form (exciting title): (descriptive subtitle).