How do you do your research?

Prof. James D.G. Dunn (Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham) is probably one of those New Testament scholars whose books I have read most up through the years. I have never had any close contact with him, but have followed his career since his first book (Baptism…), and have both enjoyed and profited much from his research.

Now NIJAY GUPTA has similar experiences, and in one of his latest posts on his blog CRUX SOLA, he has an interview with prof Dunn, mainly concerning his ways of doing research.

I shall not repeat all of what he writes (you can read it for your self here), but I quote here one of the questions and answers that I found most interesting:

How do you approach research as a whole? Do you have a big-picture strategy? Do your research all at once, and then write? Do you do some sketching and reflecting on paper and then dig into research? Do you go back and forth?

My practice over the past 40 years or so has been to identify an issue or subject I want to write on, but to confine my reading to a few major works (to ensure I am alert to the main issues) and to work directly on the text(s) to draft out what seems to me to be the main concerns and arguments.   Only then, with a paper in first draft, do I go into intense study of as much of the main secondary literature as I can lay my hands on.   This may explain why in most of my writings most of the argument with other scholars comes in the endnotes.

There is a nice Literary biography and bibliography on J.D.G. Dunn here.

Reading more in Gupta’s blog, I see that he has also posted the same questions to a couple  other scholars; you can read about Michael Gorman, and  Michael F. Bird too.

Update March 4: Gupta now also has an interview with David A. deSilva

Update April 3: Gupta has now added interviews with Craig Blomberg, Helen Bond, and David Horrell.

Author: TorreyS


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