You Tenured to me? Bart Ehrman’s brilliant insights into academic life for outsiders


Here’s a link to something anybody interested in becoming an historian or an academic scholar in the humanities of any description should read – the full post requires membership of the Bart Ehrman Blog to read, but trust me, it’s worth it just for the posts Ehrman puts out over a weekend!

Before the first ‘original’ post of the day, I’d like to make use of the astonishing number of followers which¬† HistoryJack appears to have acquired (in excess of 300 according to the hosting site!) to share and promote the work of one of my favorite historians, Professor Bart. D. Ehrman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Being a non-classicist and previously unlearned in theology or religious history, I owe a tremendous debt to Dr. Ehrman for his popular texts which open up Biblical Studies and particularly critical scholarship in New Testament Studies to outsiders and laypeople. His New York Times bestsellers *Misquoting Jesus* and *How Jesus Became God* were two books which drew in this previously modernist-only history student into the dizzying world of modern biblical scholarship.
What makes Ehrman one of my favorite scholars – I’ll be doing a more lengthily post soon explaining why I’ve selected Ehrman and his own blog as model for my plans with HistoryJack – is that unlike other great historians and philosophers whose best work remains isolated in the walls of academe and buried in impenetrable technical prose, Ehrman has allotted vast quantities of time the past two decades to bring the findings of modern New Testament Studies to the public in accessible and enjoyable formats. His trade books and public debates have probably done more to advance biblical literacy and knowledge of the basic methods used by New Testament historians in recent years than the collective fruits of America’s vast industry of televangelism and Hollywood religious epics (I’m looking at you, Mel).
In the blog post above, Ehrman details what people should expect on the dreaded yet coveted Tenure Track at American universities. He discusses the roles new scholars are expected to play at both ‘research’ and ‘teaching’ colleges and how the system has changed during his career. For undergrads who have sought out information about graduate careers themselves, this is a vital insight from someone with decades in the field of research in a highly specialised subject (God forbid I should try to master Ancient Hebrew, Classical Greek, Koine Greek, Coptic and Aramaic to name the essentials) and who has an impressive record of communicating complex scholarly topics to the general public.
So get on over to the Bart Ehrman Blog, sign yourself up and get ready for some of the best biblical scholarship and history popularisation out there!

Hello! The Inaugural Post of the HistoryJack Blog!

Greetings to everyone!

Perhaps you are visiting this blog for the first time or revisiting after many years of subscription; I have to consider the teleology of the blog and foresight is important even if the use of history for futurism is bunk. This inaugural post will detail what I am aiming to accomplish with this blog as a venue for historical inquiry, discussion and public debate on matters of interest to myself and what I hope will consist of a much wider community of history enthusiasts within the academic world and without.

This blog has been established as a hub for my historical ideas and perspectives on everything from advances and changes in the Philosophy of History, to education policy (particularly regarding school and college History curricula!), to reviews and commentaries on newly-published books and articles, to art, culture, science and much else! Politics and its intersection with History is an inevitability – G.R. Elton’s hope and vision of an objective divorce between the historian’s personality and their investigation is long the way of the dodo and the telegram – so excerpts and interactions with political blogs will be a common occurrence here. Some of the finest contemporary political commentary comes from historians and history graduates – most notably from Professor Sir Richard J. Evans in light of the recent heated debates over British school history curricula, as well as the visible, celebrated and often controversial insights of Sir David Starkey, Niall Ferguson, Mary Beard and the late Eric Hobsbawm. And who could forget that Owen Jones went from being a 2007 Oxford MA History postgrad to being voted the Fabian Society’s “most influential left-wing thinker of the year” in under four years?

The areas of historical interest that I will be focusing most of the blog’s attention upon for the foresseable near future will be broadly as follows:

  • Controversies in Biblical Studies and their intractable relationship to debates in the Philosophy of Religion as well as cultural conflict between religious apologetics and the ‘New Atheist’ movement.
  • Public understanding of History and the role of historians in increasing access to historical inquiry and methodology in addition to traditional transmission of received knowledge via popular history books and broadcast media.
  • History and education, particularly school curricula in Britain, the United States, Japan and post-conflict states including the Balkan nations. Memory Studies and the relationship between education authorities and political institutions will be a subject of particular curiosity – what role does the teaching of history itself at school and higher level play in historical memory?
  • Historiography and proposed solutions to methodological fragmentation and over-diversification of History as an academic field.
  • Multimedia projects, esp. YouTube videos expanding the blog’s capacity for reaching people interested in history and the role of historiography in the modern world.

This, in addition to commentary on current affairs and culture will be taking up the majority of space on this blog if my intentions for it are effectual in any way!

So thank you kindly for your interest in the blog and I hope that upon revisiting this post, my first tentative step into the blogosphere, it will be with a hindsight informed by many fruitful and insightful postings. Any suggestions, criticisms or advice that you think could help this blog in these early days will be greatly appreciated. Once things are off the ground and reaching a steady altitude, please feel free to share the blog far and wide!

Thank you most humbly and welcome to the HistoryJack blog!