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Strange Questions with Smart Scholars

Welcome to Strange Questions with Smart Scholars (and Zondervan Academic Staff) series! We have brought together several of our authors and Zondervan Academic staff for one of the most important and interesting blog series of the Fall 2020 academic conference season. 

Over the next three weeks during the annual ETS and SBL/AAR conferences we will be sharing their answers to five strange and fun questions. Let’s meet our interviewees. We're sure their bios will be much more distinguished than their answers.

George Athas is director of research and senior lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs in The Story of God Bible Commentary series.

Michael Bird is academic dean and lecturer in theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia and author of Evangelical Theology and What Christians Ought to Believe, among numerous other titles.

Aimee Byrd is a speaker, blogger, podcaster, former coffee shop owner, and the author of Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Sam Chan is a public evangelist with City Bible Forum in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Evangelism in a Skeptical World and How to Talk About Jesus (Without Being That Guy).

Katya Covrett is executive editor for Zondervan Academic. She has acquired more books than most people have read in their lifetime.

Stan Gundry is senior vice president and publisher for Zondervan Academic and Editor-in-Chief for Zondervan. He is the author of What the Shop Manual Won't Tell You: Studebaker Avanti Restoration and Maintenance.

Nijay Gupta is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary. He is the author of 1 and 2 Thessalonians in the Zondervan Critical Introductions to the New Testament series.

Dana Harris is associate professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and author of An Introduction to Biblical Greek Grammar.

Fred Sanders is professor of theology in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He is the author of The Triune God in the New Studies in Dogmatics series and also co-editor of the Los Angeles Theology Conference series.

Let's get to the questions.

1. If you could be in a band with one theologian or biblical scholar, whom would you choose and what kind of music would you make?

George Athas: Origen. The band would be called Hexapla, and we would produce “future lounge” sounds.

Michael Bird: Irenaeus and Karl Barth in a bluegrass band.

Aimee Byrd: This question makes me sad because I can’t think of one theologian that plays the harmonica. I’m sure there’s one out there. That’s who I’d choose. But I have noticed some play the banjo. Eugene Peterson played. If I had the talent, I’d go bluegrass.

Sam Chan: Michael Bird. He is a fellow-Aussie. But he was also in the military. So he’s one bad dude. I reckon he knows 100 different ways to kill me with his bare hands. We would make gangsta rap. Michael can be the lead singer. I would be the eye candy in the background just nodding my head to the beat.

Katya Covrett: You know you can’t ask me to choose just one theologian or biblical scholar. I will pick one of each. And it will have to be Fred Sanders and Erin Heim playing classical brass, Irish rock, and John-Williams-meets-Danny-Elfman superhero music—with a subtle Waltons leitmotif (just for Fred)—all in perfect perichoretic unity. (Lest it be misunderstood, we are very much not like the Trinity.)

Stan Gundry: I would choose my brother Bob and we would play the classic Gospel songs in Tabernacle Hymns #4. In our high school and college days Bob was superb pianist in the style of Rudy Atwood and I was good enough as a trombone soloist to tour with my college choir and a college male quartet. If we could just recover those now-lost skills, we would both enjoy playing Gospel songs in the style of the Gaithers.

Dana Harris: The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews! The music would be great, sweeping symphonic pieces with definite influences from the joy of Guantanamera!

Nijay Gupta: Chris Skinner and I would do some folksy guitar stuff, would love to get Richard Hays in on that!

Fred Sanders: Scott Swain, and we would make punk covers of REO Speedwagon and Air Supply.

2. People would be surprised to learn that you enjoy reading ___________

George Athas: Science fiction.

Michael Bird: American food cookbooks.

Aimee Byrd: Children’s books.

Sam Chan: BBQ books. Ever since my trip to Texas, I’ve been trying to reproduce the perfect hickory-smoked beef brisket.

Katya Covrett: Harry Potter—in fact, I am the biggest HP addict there is.

Stan Gundry: I enjoy reading aloud to Pat almost every evening—we enjoy history, biography, wholistic approaches to health, and the recent spate of political books. But these books may not surprise anyone. What might surprise many who do not know me well is that I enjoy reading technical information about Studebaker automobile restoration and maintenance in club magazines and on internet forums. It might also surprise you to know that I have successfully self-published (for some reason Zondervan Academic did not want it; the pity for ZA) on Studebaker Avanti restoration and maintenance and that I am licensed by the State of Michigan to do mechanical work on pre-1973 automobiles.

Nijay Gupta: Popular Mechanics and Costco sale catalogs

Dana Harris: The Bible in French (honestly, I don’t know – my reading is very eclectic)!

Fred Sanders: Bad poetry. The worse the better.

If you'd like to ask a follow-up question or discuss/debate, please see the Twitter thread. Check back Tuesday, December 1 for the next round of Q&A.

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