Baker Academic

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Who is the "Young" Theologian?

Last week I posted a quotation from the late Robert Guelich, "No young scholar should ever write a book about Jesus." This was taken from a recent public lecture by Marianne Meye Thompson (which I enjoyed greatly). She added to this quotation an addendum by Jimmy Dunn: "....or a commentary." (All by way of oral tradition, mind you.) So with the Dunn redaction, we have the following dictum:

"No young scholar should ever write a book about Jesus or a commentary." ~Robert A. Guelich / James D. G. Dunn

In a recent phone conversation with Leonard Greenspoon, I made the mistake of saying ".... but I wrote that when I was young" to which Leonard replied, "You still are young!" I agreed that because of my chosen occupation I am (at 40 years) still young. If, however, I had chosen a life in the National Basketball Association, I would not be considered young.

It all seems very arbitrary. Or at least it did until today. Today I was given a definitive number as I was reading Richard Rubenstein's classic, After Auschwitz. Rubenstein explains:
By the nature of the discipline, theologians remain young at least until their fiftieth year. There is simply too much to be learned, pondered and finally synthesized; hence early statements of the theological enterprise appear to be no more than prolegomena. (177)
So please check back with me in a decade or so. At that point I will have something synthesized.



  1. Dale C. Allison, Constructing Jesus. Memory, Imagination, and History (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic / London: SPCK, 2010: “when I undertook critical study of the canonical gospels, so many years ago ... my assumption was this: if an evangelist told a story about Jesus, we should be able to determine whether or not it happened ... I was, in retrospect, both vain and naïve. It was as though I were the master sleuth in a detective novel, imagining that I could, in each and every case, figure out what had actually transpired. In real life, however, many crimes go unsolved” (435-36).

    Some time ago there was a lecture of Allison's theological journey, delivered at Pittsburg, probably organised by Joel Marcus I think, on Youtube. Someone removed it ...

    1. These things are still typically removed\censored. Or you are ever allowed to see them. One way or another, by hook or by crook. Even to the present day. The old book and witch burnings are still with us to some degree.

  2. I must admit that I find this type of ageism kind of amusing. Especially coming from my other two disciplines where I'm "old" (IT) and mid career (psych).

  3. As a young and old writer I would confirm that ageism exists. Though I feel that age is a legitimate factor in some things.