True Scholarship is Humble

James Jordan is never afraid to throw a new idea on the table. As he says, “that’s my job.” But he’s also ever quick to remind his audience that what he has said is never the last word on a subject.

Brian Mattson writes:

Honest-to-goodness scholars are people who think, analyze, teach, and write in good faith.

Honest-to-goodness scholars are, by virtue of their own expertise, acutely aware of their limitations. Bono is absolutely right when he and U2 sing:

“The more you learn the less you know / the less you find out as you go / I knew much more then than I do now.”

The deeper one gets into a subject, the more one learns, the more difficult and mysterious the subject matter seems. This is because we are finite creatures trying to get a grip on a vast universe built by an infinite God. We “see through a glass darkly,” as St. Paul so aptly put it.

I often like to say that when I was 20 I was omniscient; it has been a long, downhill slide from there. Learning is a funny thing: we do accumulate knowledge; yet, at the same time, the amount of things to know, as well as the complexities of how our knowledge interrelates to other things, vastly increases.

This means that an honest-to-goodness scholar is, above all, humble. They are quick to acknowledge their shortcomings. They have an attitude that welcomes correction. They do not pretend that all their views are beyond challenge.

This also means that honest-to-goodness scholars are in short supply.

Brian then contrasts this observation with the career of another well-known biblical scholar.

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