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Is there a Doctor in the House?: An Insider's Story and Advice on becoming a Bible Scholar Paperback – September 10, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ben Witherington III is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world and has written over forty books, including The Brother of Jesus (co-author), The Jesus Quest, and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. Witherington has been interviewed on NBC Dateline, CBS 48 Hours, FOX News, top NPR programs, and major print media including the Associated Press and the New York Times. He was featured with N.T. Wright on the recent BBC Easter special entitled, The Story of Jesus. Ben lives in Lexington, Kentucky.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (September 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310493021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310493020
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #450,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bible scholar Ben Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

Witherington has also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell. A popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has also led tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

Witherington has written over thirty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications, and is a frequent contributor to the Beliefnet website.

Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, Witherington has been seen on the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Reformed Credobaptist on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
Ben Witherington III has written a helpful little book on what it takes to be a world-class scholar in Biblical Studies. My wife laughed when she saw the book's subtitle, "An insider's story and advice on becoming a Bible scholar," and quipped that only someone like me would ever read a book like that. She's probably correct in her assessment that this book's subject matter is probably going to appeal to a very small section of Christian readership. However, in reading the book I discovered that there is actually quite a bit of material that would be interesting to those who are not planning on apply to the University of Durham's PhD program next fall.

In the first chapter, Witherington gives a brief introduction to what it means to be a biblical scholar. Biblical scholars are said to be General Parishioners ("G.P."). They have to acquire a well-rounded knowledge base.

In chapter 2, the subjects of choosing a school, program and mentor are discussed. The cost of a program is upwards of $100,000, and will take up to seven years to complete. The pros and cons of study overseas as versus in the United States are laid out as well. Witherington also has a helpful discussion on "find your voice," that is, the ability to sift through material and to humbly arrive at well reasoned conclusions that are your own.

Chapter three is a call to original languages and sources. This is perhaps the most outstanding (and difficult) element of becoming a biblical scholar. True scholarship in the field of Biblical theology requires at least a working knowledge of seven languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, English, German, French, and Latin. The first three are the languages of the Bible; the last four are languages of secondary scholarship.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mark Stevens on August 31, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was plesently surprised when I recently switched on my Kindle to find Ben Witherington's guide to becoming a Biblical Scholar had arrived. In short, it is a great read for anyone thinking of undertaking Doctoral study in the field of Biblical Studies field. Over the years I have become increasingly concerned by the amount of seminary students who begin their studies planning to be pastors and end up wanting to be scholars. Every one of them should read this book!

In honest and conversational style Ben details his own journey through the various stages to become a renowned scholar and writer. The book is easily read in a day and covers what it really takes to become a scholar (and believe me it is a hard slog). Ben doesn't pull any punches. He isn't going to let you off with only your Greek. He wants you to master Hebrew, Aramaic, theological German and even French! He discusses how to choose the right school and the right supervisor and he advocates the need to go beyond a grasp of the languages and to a well-furnished understanding of historical context (secondary literature).

Perhaps the two most compelling chapters in this small work are the final two on the character of the scholar and the sacrifices required of those wanting to follow this calling (and in Ben's mind it is most definitely a calling).

The chapter on character is personal and challenging. In it Ben shines. I have never read about the need for the academic to possess Christ like character in their field before. It was refreshing to read. I have seen Ben in action on more than one occasion and his teaching is comprehensive and well presented. In many ways he is a Scholar/Minister. But I have also witnessed him behind the scenes.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Tell on November 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was eager to read this book as soon as I heard about it. As a pastor who struggled to discern whether my calling was in the church or the academy, I was eager to hear this "insiders" take. And the book is a fun, compelling read, by a great scholar whom I respect, and a prolific and skilled writer. The book is a quick read, and filled with personal stories of Ben's own journey through academia. In some places the book reignited old desires for academic pursuit, and in other places it made me glad to have chosen a path in the church.

My only real complaint was the lack of new insight. And I say this for the sake of those at the beginning of their potential academic careers. The points Ben makes are those which you will learn from anyone who has done Ph.D. work. If you're considering an academic career in Biblical Studies and you don't already know the importance of original languages, primary sources, context sensitivity, literary nuance, etc. then you're in for a real shock. But if you've done a few hours of online research about doing a Ph.D, then you know the importance of those things. One of the blessings of the proliferation of blogs is that you can find many blogs written by those engaged in, or having just completed, doctoral studies, and eager to dole out advice. Nevertheless, the book is a fun read, makes you feel like you're sitting down with Ben to talk over coffee, and definitely must be read by those considering academics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nate J on June 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Witherington's book is a concise, articulate introduction to the world of Biblical studies. His premise is simple: if you are truly called to be a biblical scholar, know what you are getting yourself into, buckle up, and commit yourself to doing good scholarship in service of the church. However, before attempting to climb into the world of biblical studies, examine yourself because, "not many of you should presume to be teachers...because teachers will be judged more strictly." This is an arduous path to which few are called.

Admittedly, Witherington presents a slightly rosier picture of Biblical studies from what many Ph. D. hopefuls have heard from forthright professors. Still, I suspect his work will be a shock to the systems of recent undergrads who are expecting a linear path to their favorite professor's position. The truth is, with the proliferation of adjunct position and the glut on the teaching market, those full-time posts likely won't exist in a few years from now.

Witherington's hopeful tone is a welcome reprieve from job-market naysayers, and his exhortation to those who truly sense a call is refreshing. As his own story is a testament to, God does often make a way, even in the wilderness of the job market. Just know that God does not always make a way, and one should always think of being a pastor or teach overseas, even after grad school.

BW III ends every chapter with a pithy poem about his own life as a teacher - I found these to be surprisingly meaningful. His pen has a deft touch and his diction is economical but enjoyably clever. I suspect that few NT scholars could write such a polymathic book; indeed, it mirrors the Bible itself in its many genres.

A great read for anyone who has recently been bit by the biblical-studies gadfly. Enjoy, and may God bless you in this endeavor!

-Nate
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