Note: This statement first appeared in Facebook. Dr. Campbell granted permission to republish it as a guest blog. Keith is a friend and Vice-President at Global Scholars, the ministry with which I serve. His comments deals with an anti-intellectual outlook encountered among evangelicals.)
URGENT PLEA! I recently had a conversation with a well meaning brother in Christ (I’ll call him “Joel”), a conversation that I’ve had at least a hundred times over the years. Joel-–– firmly, confidently and quite condescendingly––said to me that biblical scholars are worthless and a waste of time. All they do, he said, is sit around and discuss worthless things and confuse the “common Christian” (his words, not mine). They should spend their time doing more important things for the Kingdom.
Okay, I understand. Just like in any profession, there are those who don’t contribute much. Fair point. But, hear me well…very well: Joel, and 99% of Earth’s population, cannot read one word––NOT ONE SINGLE WORD––of the Bible without depending on scholars!
Seriously. Take the New Testament, for example. Your New Testament was transcribed from thousands of ancient parchments by scholars, and then translated from Greek into English by other scholars. This is no easy task. It takes a lifetime for one scholar to be able do this for usually just one book of the Bible. And, these scholars stand on the shoulders of literally tens of thousands of other scholars before them. Unless you can read Koine Greek in the original parchments of the first several centuries of the first millennium (or ancient Hebrew), you cannot read your Bibles without the help of scholars (including the Kings James Version and even modern Greek versions).
Besides being unable to read one single word of the Bible without the help of scholars, almost everything your Sunday School teacher and pastor mention on Sunday mornings (aside from most illustrations) comes either directly or indirectly from hundreds of thousands of scholars, throughout thousands of years, who spent lifetimes thinking, debating, and writing so that others can say these kinds of things in just a few simple, easy seconds, such as: (1) “There are four Greek words for the word ‘love’ in the New Testament….”; (2) “In the Roman world, crucifixion was considered the most humiliating ways to die.”; (3) “What this biblical word means is…”; and the list goes on and on and on and on and on!
So, here’s my plea. Please don’t dishonor good, Christian, Jesus- and Bible-loving scholars. In fact, thank them! Your ability to simply read the Bible depends on them.