I spent Friday through Sunday in Washington, DC, at the Annual Meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature — and on Friday I was at the Evangelical Theological Society. Because I have been pondering Psalm 119 the last month or so, the Psalm came to my mind often throughout my time there (seemingly hourly — and not just when I was seeing if anyone had any good new commentaries on Psalms).
There are two sides to this coin of biblical studies.
One side is the Side of Privilege. We’ve been granted the grace of study, degrees and the not-to-be-taken-for-granted sheer grace of being offered a teaching position somewhere. Every year I go to such meetings and see folks who are talented, degreed, credentialed, talented, and still looking for a post. And there is mostly the privilege of constant study of God’s Word in the context of God’s People in order to develop and teach and write.
The other side of the coin is the Side of Temptation. The singular temptation of the academic life is mental pride, the thrill of knowing that becomes instead the power of knowing more, the joy of discovery that becomes instead the discovery of something new for the sake of the new, the comeraderie of scholars that becomes the insidious temptation of competition amongst scholars, and (sadly) the posture of dependence on God that can (sometimes) become the posture of God’s dependence on the knowing scholar.