Blogger of the Month for July 2006
Brandon Wason and Jim West Interview Dave Black
Editorial Note: Dave Black is the author of the weblog atDaveBlackOnline(http://www.daveblackonline.com/blog.htm).
BW: Thank you, Dave, for agreeing to be this month’s featured blogger. I’d like to start off by asking how you became involved with blogging and why you chose to begin your own blog.
DB: First, if I may say so, thank you very much indeed for this honor. I stumbled upon blogging quite by accident. I had already been publishing my essays at Dave Black Online. When I saw that I could add musings of a personal nature by blogging, I jumped on the bandwagon. Today my blog receives more hits than my homepage – a case of the tail wagging the dog if ever there was one.
BW: Please tell us about your background. Where were you raised and where did you complete your course work?
DB: I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. My grandparents had emigrated there in 1912 from Montana. (Smart move, if you ask me.) I grew up at Kailua Beach on the windward side of Oahu. During my school years I “majored” in surfing, sailing, and volleyball. After high school I studied music at the University of Hawaii before moving to the “Big, Big Island” to enroll at Biola College as a Bible major. Its graduate school, Talbot School of Theology, granted me an M.Div. in New Testament in 1980. Then it was off to Basel, Switzerland for my doctorate under Bo Reicke.
BW: Why did you choose to study biblical studies, and how would you describe your journey of becoming a professor?
DB: The choice was easy; the journey less so. I fell in love with Greek as a senior in college. Then I was hired to teach Greek while studying for my masters. I knew that I needed a doctorate if I wanted to teach full time, so I went through my list of questions: Get a Th.D. or a Ph.D.? Study in a seminary or at a major secular university? Stay here or go abroad? I felt the Lord leading me to study in a European university, and I was ultimately accepted both at Tübingen and Basel. I chose Basel for several reasons, not least because I could sit at the feet of such scholars as Reicke, Barth, Cullmann, Schmidt, Lochman, and Wyss. After my graduation in 1983 I began teaching full-time and have been doing that ever since.
BW: Mark Goodacre recently wrote on his blog that he generally avoids relating personal information but surprisingly “had more comments and enthusiastic responses” when he detailed his travel diary from Birmingham to Durham. Your blog is the reverse of Mark’s and focuses more on the personal activities. What do you find to be the advantages and disadvantages (if any) of having a more personal blog?
DB: I try not to compare my blog with anyone else’s. I love Mark’s blog. It’s vintage Goodacre. If my blog is hopelessly personal, it’s not because I have a “philosophy” of how blogging should be done, but simply because I am incurably eclectic. I would go crazy writing only about theologoumena because theology is only one small part of my life. Unlike my home page (where I publish my essays), my blog is nothing more than a diary of happenings in my life, from my latest baby goat to my latest book review in Novum Testamentum. The surprising thing to me is that others find any of this interesting.
BW: Which blogs do you frequently read?
DB: Many biblioblogs, of course, and many obscure blogs as well. I always try to visit the blogs of my students (examples include The Assembling of the Churchand MatthewMcDill.com ) and blogs by people who take the time to write me.
JW: Much ado has been made recently on several biblioblogs about the issue of inerrancy. How do you understand that concept? Why?
DB: Good questions. I’d say that my belief in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture is the driving force behind all my teaching and writing. The words that I read in Greek, for example, are 100 percent human. But they are also 100 percent divine and therefore preserved from error. This is, I suppose, classic “verbal, plenary” inspiration – every word, everywhere. But to this I would add: not only are the words inspired, but also the tense, voice, mood, verbal aspect, presence (or absence!) of the article, word order, etc. I see my job as unpacking as much of this information as possible while at the same time not reading into the text what the Holy Spirit never put there in the first place. I will be the first to admit, to my everlasting shame, that I have failed many times at this task. The Scripture asks, “Who is adequate for these things?” Not me. Gladly, “our sufficiency is of Christ.”
JW: Will you be providing papers in advance of the SEBTS meeting on Mark’s Long Ending?
DB: Possibly. I’m quite sure the papers will be published in book form afterwards. That said, any presenter who would like to provide copies for those in attendance is free to do so. That’s what I’m planning on doing.
BW: What are your current research interests? Are you presently working on any books?
DB: As you know, the byline to my website is “restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations.” These two themes continue to be strong interests of mine. In the fairly near future I hope to publish a volume called Unleashing the Church. I also hope to complete a 600-page work that compares the style and diction of Hebrews with the Pauline epistles, showing (in my eyes, at least) that the former epistle is sui generis with the latter corpus. I am also revising my little book on the Gospels as well as my beginning Greek grammar. Now you know why I have so little time for blogging!
BW: What advice would you give to a student just starting to learn biblical Greek?
DB: Rejoice, for your rewards are great! Learn to understand how the language works, not just how to memorize long lists of paradigms and principal parts. Apply what you have worked so hard to acquire. The only way to do this is by reading your Greek New Testament daily. Take it to church with you, and to chapel services. Teach and preach from it if you can. Because Christian education is “likeness education” (Luke 6:40), find a teacher who is passionate about the language. Consider going on for a doctorate in New Testament. We could always use more grammarians and textual critics.
BW: What books have been most influential to you and which books would you recommend to younger students of the New Testament?
DB: I assume you mean books other than the Bible. There are many, but three come to mind: The Christology of the New Testament by Oscar Cullmann (for a superb discussion of the person and work of the One whom we serve), Markus Barth’s two-volume Ephesians commentary (for a model of how to do exegesis – just read his section on Christian marriage), and Steve Atkerson’s Ekklesia (for insights into the New Testament pattern of church life).
JW: Do you have any plans to return to Ethiopia for extended work?
DB: Yes, indeed. My wife and I hope to return to the persecuted province of Alaba in December. We will travel into the villages and come alongside the congregations for encouragement and training. In several of these villages we have already begun building meeting halls. We are also very excited about the possibility of digging wells at every rural church site, with a simple sign that would read something like, “Jesus is the living water.” Everyone in the community, Christian and non-believer alike, would have access to safe drinking water as well as exposure to the love and compassion of the Lord Jesus.
BW: Lastly, are there any interesting facts about you that our readers would otherwise be unaware of?
DB: Only that I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world. O, there I go again – getting personal!
BW: Thanks again, Dave. I’m very confident that our readers will find your answers interesting and helpful. I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July!
DB: Thank you, Brandon and Jim, for the wonderful service you render by publishing Biblioblogs, and thank you for honoring me with an interview.