The Best Advice You Can Give A Student

Is to tell them that they aren’t ready.  They aren’t ready to publish a book.  They aren’t ready to write for Vetus Testamentum or New Testament Studies.  They aren’t ready because they haven’t read enough.  They haven’t thought enough.  They haven’t discussed enough.  Their ‘new insight’ is actually old news and it’s already been said better long before they were conceived.  And they would know it if they had read enough, and thought enough, and discussed enough.

We do students no favors when we encourage them to publish before they’re ready.  We only set them up for rejection, discouragement, and disappointment.  Further, if they do publish then we have set them up for scorn and mockery.

Academic honesty matters.  And it’s ok to honestly admit that lacking the prerequisite preparation and maturity do not make for happy writers.

Students, do your research.  And that means taking the time and making the effort to do it.  And then, when you’ve matured, do publish.  We joyfully await your insights (and not the insights recycled from predecessors whom you don’t even know existed).

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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8 Responses to The Best Advice You Can Give A Student

  1. How does this reconcile with the need to publish to even be considered for a teaching post?

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  2. John C. Poirier says:

    Some students obviously *are* ready to publish. Your advice only holds in certain cases.

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  3. John C. Poirier says:

    My first thirty or so articles appeared (in places like JBL, NovT, VT, JSNT, NTS, HTR, JQR, JJS, JSJ, etc., etc.) while I was still a student. Now that I have my degree, I don’t see anything in those pieces that was only half-cooked.

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  4. John C. Poirier says:

    I was in a Ph.D. program at the time.

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    • Jim says:

      that’s quite different than an undergrad or even a master’s student. still- too many students think they are ‘entitled’ to being published because they have some ‘new idea’ which is just old rubbish. which, were they more widely read, they would know. and reading takes time. and effort. so i’m going to stand by my statement clearly understanding that for every rule there’s an exception.

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