Thomas W. Hudgins is author of the Topical Line Drive volume Those Footnotes in Your New Testament. He was interviewed about his doctoral work and dissertation on the Complutensian Polyglot by Peter Curry at Evangelical Textual Criticism.
Tuesday night I had the privilege of interviewing Robert Martin, author of The Caregiver’s Beatitudes. He had some very important things to say not just about being a caregiver, but about the way the church should function.
Here’s the video:
5:42 PM Since I have just published another book (The Authorship of Hebrews), I thought I would share with you few thoughts on the writing and reading of books:
1) The books I write are getting shorter and shorter. “Less is more” is becoming more of a reality and less of an old truism for me. You don’t need to know everything about a subject to understand it. In fact, innumerable facts are often a detriment to understanding. Above all, I try to avoid writing in such a way that might imply that thinking on the part of the reader is unnecessary.
2) I want my readers to become active participants in my book’s ideas. Some will read for information. “What does Dave think about this or that?” Others will read more for their own personal understanding of the subject, with the hope that something they read will shine some light on the facts they already know. Some of us are so guilty of abecedarian ignorance that we have to start with the simple ABCs. Our goal is simply information. Eventually, I hope we can read books preeminently for the sake of understanding.
3) Whenever I read a new book I always read it through from beginning to end in one sitting and without pondering the things I don’t understand. I find I have a much better chance of understanding a book on second reading after I’ve already gained a bird’s-eye-view of its contents.
4) As for speed of reading, my golden rule is a simple one. I read a book no more quickly than I can read it with satisfaction and comprehension. I can generally skim a book on my first reading. This gives me some idea of its form and structure. I am thus prepared to read it well the second time around. I can always tell whether a book is a “good” book. A good book is one that is always over my head in some sense. It forces me to think, to stretch, and to pull myself up to its level.
5) As for marking in books, I do so religiously. My pen is my best friend in reading a new book. Whether underlining major points or placing an asterisk in the margin or circling key words and phrases, I try to read consciously and interactively.
6) My new book, like most works of non-fiction, is chronotopical. It deals with things as they exist or occur in a particular time and place (hence the term “chronotopical,” from the Greek words for time and place). My book is the product of my own personal history. It traces how my thinking has evolved since I first began teaching in 1976. I have tried to write in a way that exhibits unity, clarity, and coherence. Whenever possible I have told the reader what the questions are and the answers that are the fruits of my own study. But the reader must not expect me to do the job all by myself. He or she must meet me halfway. My goal is a “meeting of the minds,” a reciprocal benefit that depends on the willingness of both reader and writer to work together.
7) Finally, the heart of my new book lies in the major affirmations and denials I am making, and the reasons I give for so doing. You may or may not agree with all of my propositions, but I hope you will not miss their meaning. I think I’m simply verbalizing what we all know to be true, though I might perhaps state things in an unconventional way. “2 + 2 = 4” and “4 – 2 = 2” are different notations for the same arithmetic relationship — the relationship of 4 as double of 2, or 2 as half of 4. The same conclusion is forced upon us regardless of the proposition being made.
In the end, the best readers are the most critical. They make up their own minds on the matters the author has discussed. I invite you to read my latest book and engage me in these issues.
(For the Kindle version of the book, go here.)
9:16 AM Say, got a minute for some reflection? Today I want to think out loud with you about “hypotheses.” As a proponent of the Pauline authorship of Hebrews, all I can do is offer a hypothesis that I believe is consistent with the facts. This does not, of course, prove my hypothesis. That is a different matter altogether. Just because something is possible or even plausible does not make it probable. How, then, do I deal with this issue? You’ll have to wait for the published book to see. All I can say here is that an author who defends a hypothesis must be prepared to be judged by the evidence. The estimation of probability is left completely to the reader. The one thing readers must not do, however, is prejudge the matter. Snap judgments are never acceptable. It is a correct critical judgment we are after.
This is true even when a scientific test is applied, say, to the Synoptic Problem. In this case, we know two things: 1) There is abundant documentary evidence from the earliest centuries that Matthew is our first canonical Gospel; and 2) a critical examination of it discloses a high probability of truth. It is therefore not sufficient merely to dismiss this evidence as naive. To put it differently, in trying to discredit this “second-hand” knowledge, the skeptic assumes that he or she knows better than, say, an Origen or a Eusebius. Such a conclusion causes the devil’s advocate to point out the utter subjectivity of that position. (See the discussion in my Why Four Gospels? The Historical Origins of the Gospels.) The trouble here is an unexpressed antihistorical bias that vitiates an objective consideration of the data. Who among us has never violated the elementary canon of historiography by neglecting contrary evidence?
In short, I submit that my work on Hebrews is a closely-argued hypothesis. But it remains a hypothesis. At no time should the reader take a vacation from healthy skepticism. The one thing I hope you will not do is prejudge the matter.
(From Dave Black Online, August 17, 2013. Used by permission.)
10:28 AM And now a word to my students. Hope you all have been enjoying your semester. I’ve been perusing the discussion of Hebrews in several standard introductions to the New Testament. They almost all say the same thing.
1) Paul could not be the author because the language of the book is different from Paul’s in his letters. Question: Did you actually compare the language yourself? I did, and I came away with a completely different conclusion.
2) The author of Hebrews says that he only heard the gospel from those who received it from Christ. Ergo, Paul could not have the author. This objection, of course, is based on 2:3, a verse that is capable other explanations favoring Pauline authorship (explanations that are hardly ever mentioned).
3) In these textbooks Origen is usually misquoted. His words “… who wrote the epistle, in truth God knows” are assumed to mean that he took an agnostic position relative to the question of authorship. This is, of course, the selfsame Origen who consistently cites the letter as Paul’s.
4) Finally, some textbooks argue that the Western church rejected Pauline authorship. Clearly this is a misreading of the external evidence. The epistle was admitted to be Paul’s by the Councils of Hippo (AD 393) and Carthage (AD 397), as well as in the lists of canonical books set forth in their canons. These canons speak of thirteen epistles of Paul, and then add, “[he wrote] another one to the Hebrews.” In addition, Hebrews was received as Paul’s by Hilary (AD 354), Lucifer (AD 354), Victorinus (AD 360), Ambrose (AD 374), Philaster (AD 380), Gaudentius (AD 387), and Rufinus (AD 397). The tradition in the West that there were thirteen epistles of Paul clearly meant thirteen that bear the apostle’s name. In fact the fifth Council of Carthage in AD 419, at which Augustine was present, reckoned fourteen epistles as Paul’s, without any further qualification.
Students, I have no problem with rejecting Pauline authorship, if your conclusions are based on all the evidence as well as on a personal examination of the data. If this is a topic that interests you, I encourage you to read my book The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul when it is released next month.
(From Dave Black Online, September 5, 2013. Used by permission.)