What Is A Biblical Scholar?

Frequently I am asked by curious readers, what my credentials are in order to be distinguished as a Biblical scholar. This is a fair question understanding that most persons don’t really know what a Bible scholar is.

Dr. Roy Zuck and other noted scholars have defined a Biblical scholar in the following terms:

“A scholar is someone who has done advanced study in a special field. Therefore, a Bible scholar would be a person who has done advanced studies in the Bible, some perhaps going to seminary or graduate school. Perhaps a “Bible scholar” would be differentiated from a pastor, as the pastor’s primary job is to shepherd the church whereas a “scholar” may work in isolation, writing and doing research. A “Bible scholar” may also be differentiated from a theologian in that a theologian is working to put together a comprehensive system of doctrine whereas a Bible scholar may be content to simply clarify what the Bible says without trying to systematize it. 

Having said that, there is no authoritative, technical standard for what it takes to be a Bible scholar. Some who have never been to seminary but have studied the Bible extensively and availed themselves of good resources may indeed be genuine Bible scholars—they are students of the Bible. We would hope that every pastor and theologian would also be a Bible scholar. One would also hope that every Bible scholar would be able to use the knowledge acquired to minister to people.

Because of the wide variety of approaches to the Bible and the many attacks on the reliability of God’s Word today, it is often necessary to add an extra modifier to Bible scholar. Today, the church is served by many fine evangelical Bible scholars who believe that the Bible is God’s Word and seek to clarify the meaning of the Bible for the good of the church and to the glory of God. Unfortunately, there are many liberal Bible scholars, critical Bible scholars, and even skeptical Bible scholars who believe that the Bible holds no authority, being merely a book of literature or a historical record of the religious experiences of people in the past. These scholars often put themselves in the position of judging the Bible rather than the other way around.”

For personal reasons, I do not talk about my academic achievements, or family in a public setting. The former has to do with my aversion to the idea that one may hold up a Ph.D as an emblem of intellect by pride, but be devoid of genuine wisdom or humility. The later is a matter of security and one that I maintain to protect my loved ones.

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ~Galatians 6:14 (NKJV)

Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News. ~1 Corinthians 9:16-18 (NLT)

But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. ~Matthew 19:30 (NLT)