Friday, February 9, 2007

A Humbling Experience While Researching

It was not always this way, but now after having written and published for magazines, journals, and books, while doing research, it is not unusual to come across my published materials in books or journals or magazines that I read. This week I had an occasion to read an article in a very recent issue of a scholarly journal on the New Testament concerning the same crucial passage in one of Paul's letters on which I had published a sizable and significant article several years ago, an article that derived from my work on my dissertation. As I read the recent article, I observed that the author showed no knowledge of my research and gave no indication that she had accessed my article, even though it is indexed in all of the major scholarly indexes of journal articles.

Well, it was humbling that the author showed no indication at all of having any knowledge of my essay. Humbling as that was, however, it was even more humbling to reflect upon an experience that I had within the past year. I received notification that an essay I had submitted for publication in another scholarly journal for biblical studies had been rejected because I did not show that I had interacted with a particular essay that had touched upon the same passage on which my essay was based. This reflection gave me pause to be humbled further to realize that not even the referees of the journal in which the woman successfully published her essay knew of my ignored, forgotten, not cited, and not even mentioned essay.

Some have said that scholars write things that only other scholars read. Perhaps this is true. However, an corollary may also be fitting: Scholars write things that not even other scholars read.

Update: Humbled again. Today, as I was continuing to research in the area that I addressed in my dissertation, as I revisit that work to update my files with a view to possibly publishing some essays, I came upon another essay that was sort of a twist on the title of my dissertation, "The Cross and the Curse" whereas my dissertation is title, "The Curse of the Law and the Cross." Again, this essay shows no awareness of neither my essay published in 1989 nor my dissertation completed in 1991. What is particularly disconcerting about this essay is that the first segment offers "A History of Interpretation of Galatians 3:13." How thorough was the research that supported this summary of the history of interpretation. The odd thing is that my essay is even available on the internet,
here and listed here. Once again, I'm humbled.