JGC: Who is smarter? I’m happy, and not scared, to answer that. It is indeed too obvious: the American one, you know, the dude with the facial hair.
Who would I (other than the aforementioned) model myself on? I’m going to give a predicable answer here, I afraid: no one (is that allowed?). There is too much chaos and unpredictability, and difference from the scholarly contexts of the past, to even consider modelling myself on any particular scholar. There are also new things to be done and trying to emulate the past can be a hindrance. Certainly there are people who have traits I like but they are usually human traits I like. I also worry that concern for modelling one career on another leads to too much adoration of famous scholars which I really don’t like. Thinking about it, the question could have been reversed: if you could criticise one scholarly career which would it be?
I could, and maybe should, point to those scholars (in religion) for whom I have some admiration, particularly those who have stood up against dominant scholarly orthodoxies. There are some scholars I won’t mention in case they read this but I have great admiration for some contemporary scholars who have taken some serious abuse for criticising (and criticising rightly, I think) powerful ideological trends at work in scholarship. I’ve also been promoted to look at JAT Robinson again in recent weeks and there were elements of his career I found particularly interesting. I liked his unpredictability and when Britain was facing some aggressive positions on anti-immigration and racism in the late 60s he wittily stood up against this trend (apparently saying immigration officers wouldn’t let Jesus into the UK at the Second Coming). These days, there are plenty of liberal types who will tell us how much they love multiculturalism and how Jewish their Jesus is (in both cases, there are always limits and implicit superiority) but Robinson did it before it was so fashionable.
Having said all that, I really, really wish I had invented NT Wrong.