Jack of all Trades and Master of None: The Case for "Generalist" Scholars in Biblical Scholarship
by Michael F. Bird and Craig Keener
- Andrew for Z Academic
Young scholars beginning their careers in biblical studies may have to decide if they are to pursue a career as a “specialist” in one particular field like Pentateuch, Prophets, Paul, Petrine literature or be a “generalist” with expertise across a whole Testament, Second Temple literature, and often even rabbinic and early Christian writings. The attraction to the specialist track can easily be identified: (1) It is easier to master the primary sources of one specific area; (2) secondary literature in our guild is growing exponentially and it is impossible to keep up with the scholarly developments in more than one field; and (3) in terms of career prospects it is easier to develop a research portfolio, and thus secure tenure and promotion, if one sticks to one field of research. That said, the generalist track should also remain a viable and fruitful avenue for scholars to pursue as careers. In this short piece we will present a case for the value of generalists in biblical studies, that is, for the scholar who is “jack of all trades, but master of none.”
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