Who are the next “big names” in biblical studies?

Jill has posed an interesting question in the comment to another post, asking who might be the “big names” in biblical studies in the next 15-20 years.  I would like to pose this question to my fellow bibliobloggers, and ask also why that person.  Who is the next Brueggemann?  Childs?  Tov?  Crenshaw?  Alter?  Hays?  Etc.

To get the ball rolling, I have a couple initial suggestions (one offered by Jill with which I agree wholeheartedly).

1) David Carr: his Reading the Fractures of Genesis is a monumentally important volume, not simply for its synthesis of synchronic and diachronic approaches (although I would still argue Carr is largely doing genetic work) but also in that it marks a return to a full-length discussion of the biblical book which set what would become the documentary hypothesis in motion, and it shows how far we have come since.  While I disagree with much of what I read of Carr (for instance, his article that unity and Isaiah are incompatible), his voice has become a foundational one for how biblical scholarship has thought about some of its important questions.  He is still relatively young, and I think his star will only continue to rise.

2) Nancy deClaisse-Walford: her work on Psalms (Reading from the Beginning and A Song From Ancient Israel, as well as a forthcoming new ICC commentary which she is co-writing) has carried the late Gerald Wilson’s theses forward in meaningful ways.  Also, her emphasis on reading the final form of the Psalter–the emphasis on the question of the Psalter’s ‘shape’–is an important one and seems to be the direction in which Psalms scholarship is moving.  She is also a Baylor Ph.D. and wrote her dissertation under Bill Bellinger, who is supervising my dissertation–hopefully that bodes well for me!

3) Kenton Sparks: perhaps little known, but his God’s Word in Human Words has made a big splash, as has his Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible (which I review here).  ATSHB is sure to become a standard reference work in the field.  He has also authored an earlier volume on Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Israel.  He is perhaps the ‘dark horse’ of those I list here, but I do think if he continues to produce the quality he has thus far he has a good chance of becoming a big name.

4) Douglas Campbell: on the NT side of things, one of my former teachers at Duke is already getting some deserved attention for his work on Paul (The Quest for Paul’s Gospel and his most recent massive tome–over 1000 pages!–The Deliverance of God published by Eerdmans).  While his overall reading of Paul is quite eclectic and to some eccentric, his analysis of the history of Pauline scholarship and the problems with previous conceptions of Paul’s ‘center’ (inasmuch as such a thing exists!) are important.  Evidence of his success can be seen in that his Deliverance of God has a session devoted to it at SBL in New Orleans.

Who would you add to this list, and why?  Who is the next legitimate ‘big name’ in biblical studies?



10 thoughts on “Who are the next “big names” in biblical studies?

  1. Jill says:

    Thanks for posting this John. I was orginally thinking of people a little younger. The 30 or early 40s. I certainly agree that Steiz and Carr chave a great reputation. What about people more at the assistant professor level (like Douglas Campbell as John mentioned).

  2. John Anderson says:

    Jill: Sparks is still young (see his picture on the Eastern University website). DeClaisse-Walford is in her 50s, but she also completed her Ph.D. in 1995, which I guess is ages ago when judged against my young life.

    I have already discussed Douglas Campbell. You mentioned Portier-Young at Duke, another one of my teachers. She is a student of Jim Crenshaw and did her dissertation on resistance ideologies in the face of Antiochan persecution, I believe. It is being published soon if I remember correctly. She has done much work in the intertestamental literature (Tobit, etc.), and also works in Genesis, though she’s not published on Genesis yet to my knowledge. She has a keen mind, though, and I would not be surprised if she became another significant name. Also at Duke, Kavin Rowe (a newly minted Duke Ph.D.) has been hired on in NT, and seems to have made a big splash already. He is one of the editors of Richard Hays’ festschrift.

    Rob: Good to hear Dr. Chapman’s name. Yes, he was another of my teachers at Duke, and I still keep in touch with him sporadically to this day. He is a great scholar and hilarious to boot. As a student of Childs, he will no doubt be appreciated by those who continue to advance the canonical method.

    Who else should be added?

  3. Nick Norelli says:

    I’ll say Michael Bird on the NT side of things. He’s well versed in NT, Christology, Historical Jesus, Reformed theology, and I’m sure a number of other areas. The frequency with which he publishes articles and books is on par with Origen, Ben Witherington, or Jacob Neusner! I think he’s definitely one to watch.

  4. John Anderson says:

    Jim!!! This blog has just received an instant bump with your presence (or something!). Seriously, glad to see you weighing in.

    Who would you suggest? Outside the western hemisphere, how about . . . Konrad Schmid who is still relatively young and has done some seminal work in the Pentateuch. Perhaps Jan Christian Gertz? I’m sure there are others–I will think. But I don’t want to dominate the list myself . . . who would you suggest, Jim? And why?

  5. Michael says:

    I second Mike Bird. His output (and the quality of that output) is phenomenal!

    Also, he is a gem of a guy. Very kind, willing to help out those not nearly as far along as he is.

    That Bird is going to fly.

    (Please excuse the cheese at the end.)

  6. Rob Reid says:

    I would like to throw Warren Carter in the hat, though he is established, I think his presence in the academia is going to increase exponentially and surely his student’s as well 🙂

  7. John Anderson says:

    Michael: My apologies. I have tried very, very hard, but I simply cannot . . . cannot forgive such cheese. Sorry. ha!

    Rob: Hmmm, do I sense a bit of self-promotion there? If so–good. Anyone that knows me should realize I am not beyond self-promotion. As academics, we all have a bit of an ego. Glad to see your comment; keep at it!

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