A colleague and I had a fascinating discussion today over whether there was anyone in the field currently alive bigger than Walter Brueggemann. Now, of course I am entirely biased here, but if I can put some objective criteria on it: name recognition, publications, response from the scholarly community, longevity. By what metric does one measure such a thing?
We tossed around a few names, none of which really resonated . . . . John Collins was the closest we could come up with, but even that didn’t seem the same. There are a number of scholars who would be strong contenders but are no longer living: Gerhard von Rad or the recently deceased Brevard Childs. We could adduce plenty of ‘up-and-comers’ (i.e., David Carr in Pentateuch or Nancy deClaisse-Walford in Psalms) or formative folks in various subdisciplines or faith perspectives (i.e., Frank Moore Cross in ancient Near Eastern studies, John Goldingay or Bruce Waltke in conservative circles, etc.).
On the NT side of things we were able to come up with several such names: NT Wright, Bart Ehrman, Ben Witherington (for the latter two the criteria was largely publication output of scholarly and popular volumes, while with Wright I think you again have the notriety of the name . . . I wonder if Wright even would rival Brueggemann. But that is a question for another day).
So, make your case. Who is the biggest, most significant living name in OT scholarship, that fits the criteria expected to go along with such an accolade? Or, put another way . . . . can anyone beat Brueggemann? I’m not convinced anyone can, but I’m curious what names are suggested. And why. I am particularly interested in what suggestions other scholars would advance, but I welcome all submissions.