The Intellectual Habits Of Great Thinkers. Interested?
I am still somewhat perturbed about Huizinga’s biography of Erasmus and its lack of information on Erasmus’ intellectual and study habits. Truth be told, that is why I read the book (though secondarily to get more information on his editions of his Greek New Testament).
I am quite interested in the intellectual habits of those who have shaped the study of ancient history and its documents, be that those in biblical studies, classical studies, or Christian history. Obviously it involves a lot of time studying, but a lot of study alone does not a great thinker make. There are particular study habits, research habits, personal traits and other things I am sure that takes someone from bookworm to significant thinker. In many cases I would imagine it is luck (or, more properly, a smiling providence). In some cases it is surely all hype. But on average I would imagine that there is quite a bit more to it than just luck and hype.
I am not really on a quest for how someone becomes a famous scholar; I hope I am not that vain. I am more interested in personal development. I want to be a better thinker than I am. If that leads to fame and notoriety that’s fine, but that’s not my goal. I would like to see the habits of smart men and compare them to mine to see if I am just completely off base or if some tweaking needs to be done.
So I now have a question for you, my dear readers: Do you care? I am thinking of doing something, but it would turn out so much better for me and for everyone else if I had some audience participation, and it is this. I would like to compile a list questions about intellectual habits, backgrounds, qualities, etc. that I could ask various scholars about their private study lives and how they got where they are. The ultimate goal would be to publish them on the blog in some fashion for the benefit of all.
I am not interested in this being a scholar-worshipfest. I would not be asking for autographs (okay...maybe a few :) ), what their favorite food was, or for a lock of their hair that I might build a shrine. These would be pragmatic questions. "Hey scholar X, you are recognized as an authority on Y. How did you get there?" "What is it in your background that helped you?" "What would you look for in the habits and traits of those who would replace you when you’re dead?"
I would also want help from you in picking the people. And I would want people from different disciplines. Hearing from ten textual critics and NT scholars would be good for me, but not as beneficial for everyone. And having more would be beneficial to us all as we should not limit ourselves too narrowly.
And finally, I have the equipment to do audio. Would anyone want audio interviews, or just text?
I am going to SBL this year. Unlike last year, I have the money already (enough to pay for my plane, food, and hotel), so Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise I will be there. If there is enough interest I would try to interview folks there since that is the largest meeting of scholars in the fields that I and most of my readers would probably care about.
Anyway, thoughts? Please shoot me an email, give me a call on my cell (contact info for both can be found here), or leave a comment if you have any thoughts. What say ye?