How much time do you spend reading/studying primary sources? Personally I find that many times I enjoy the primary sources more than I do some scholar's opinion. That is not to say that I don't read a lot of books by scholars on various people/events, I do. However reading the primary sources many times provides me with a perspective I otherwise would not have had. It also helps me to be somewhat critical of various theories/claims of some scholars. Whether I am reading something about early American history, first century Rome, or the historical Jesus, I love to get as much primary material as I can. Clearly there are much more primary sources for early American history than for the historical Jesus so some subjects are easier to get primary sources than others. In studying the historical Jesus you find that your most important sources are the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). They are the earliest and, unlike many of the Gnostic gospels, most realistic accounts of Jesus' life. Other sources on Jesus' life would be parts of Josephus and other ancient writers who either mention something about Jesus or give us details that help us understand the culture/time He lived in. So in this subject there is a limited amount of primary sources. In early American history, however, the primary sources seem almost endless (at least when compared to ancient history). From the Pilgrims, to Thomas Jefferson, to the Civil War, these people kept diaries and wrote books (etc) that give us their view of events (etc). Such first hand accounts are, in my opinion, beyond value when studying history. Books by scholars provide good summaries, or over-views, of historical events. Such books also help when doing detailed studies of a person/event because they give the reader a variety of details the reader might not otherwise pick up on. So I am not, in anyway, downplaying the importance of reading good scholarship on any historical person or event.