What makes a book academic?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by evangelist6589, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. evangelist6589

    evangelist6589
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    It seems that different seminaries disagree on what books are graduate level and what are not. Books like the following I would place at the graduate level.

    The Gospel According to Jesus
    ReckLess Faith
    Charasmatic Chaos
    The Serpent of Paradise
    Has God Spoken?
    Desiring God
    A Ready Defense

    So what is your view on this? Some books in my library I would not consider academic, but some are used in seminaries regardless of my view. The book "Share Jesus Without Fear" is my best example.
     
  2. Crabtownboy

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    Were they peer reviewed prior to publication?

    Did the author conduct a huge amount of research prior to writing?

    Are they well footnoted?

    Do the books contain an index?

    What is your criteria for a book being considered academic?
     
  3. mont974x4

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    I think there is a difference between graduate level and academic. In my opinion a book is academic when it is dry reading, as opposed to a more personable read. A book is graduate level if it requires the reader to engage in a deeper thought process in order to assimilate the information. A book can be graduate level with or without being academic.

    The only two books on your list I have read are Desiring God and A Ready Defense. I have enjoyed them both and refer to them on occasion. I was challenged more reading Desiring God, but Piper has a way of doing that.
     
  4. Amy.G

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    It cures insomnia. :laugh:
     
  5. mont974x4

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    You obviously have not heard me preach. :laugh:
     
  6. JonC

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    Personally, I wouldn’t think of these as academic. For example, while I enjoy reading MacArthur’s material, have found him insightful, and I enjoy his sermons – he is not an “expert” in the academic field. He is primarily a pastor, without the academic training in a specific field of study to be considered academic. I would think that his works could be used in reference to pastoral experience, perhaps church leadership and organization, that type of thing – but not as a source for interpretation or translation, Church history, etc. I have used MacArthur in a graduate paper, but as an example of contemporary preaching – not as a source.

    I’d view the other books about the same. While I like “Share Jesus without Fear,” it was far from academic. That isn’t taking anything away from the book, its purpose and author simply does not meet the criteria. Academic resources are those which the authors you present would perhaps source in their books.


    And yes, they are the ones that seem to cure insomnia. :)
     
    #6 JonC, Mar 8, 2012
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  7. mont974x4

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    Might I suggest that there is a difference between scholarly, which would likely include these attributes, and a book that is academic?
     
  8. Tom Butler

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    And the book must have been written by someone who sports a beard and smokes a pipe.
     
  9. padredurand

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    ....and sells in the bookstore for $450.00.....
     
  10. mont974x4

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    I have a beard and don't smoke. Is that why my book is not obscenely over-priced?
     
  11. padredurand

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    Depends whether your tweed jacket has elbow patches or not.
     
  12. evangelist6589

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    Strange. We used MacArthur's books (some of them) in the seminary I attended as a outside reading assignment, or as the main book used for the tests in some courses.
     
  13. evangelist6589

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    Graduate level and undergraduate level are different. But yes I think you nailed it here.
     
  14. JonC

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    I also used MacArthur’s books (some of them) in seminary. I recall two courses where this was one of the main books as well. I thought both were very good books, and I enjoyed the course. That does not make them “academic” in my view. MacArthur’s books, in my opinion, are written more from the perspective of a pastor than one objectively analyzing the issues - which is as it should be, and is not taking anything away from the books.

    But, I may have misunderstood your question. I was taking it to mean “academic” in terms of using the books as a source in writing a thesis, research paper, theology, etc. – not that they can’t or shouldn't be used in an academic setting.
     
    #14 JonC, Mar 9, 2012
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  15. Greektim

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    Probably the intended audience will determine much of that. I'm surprised the books you listed ended up in seminary classrooms, unless there were many others to go with them.

    Another criteria is if the book was intended to be a textbook. None seem to fist your list that I noticed. They are mostly easy-answer apologetics for lay readers and maybe undergrad.

    But I might have a critical opinion since I think evangelical education has been greatly dumbed down.
     
  16. govteach51

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    I had the good fortune to take a couple of grad classes in history after seminary, one of my professors was Ralph Wooster. Dr. Wooster has written extensively on Texas, the Civil War and Nazi Germany. ( He was an enlisted man in WWII and had interviewed many of the German Generals/Colonels after the war as a member of an Army Historical Unit.)
    One of the classes I took was a 500 level class simply called "Nazi Germany." At the time there was a huge debate if "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William L. Shirer was academic BECAUSE, it had been a best seller, and it was written by a non-academic. Wooster was shocked that people didn't find it academic. Shirer was in Germany before and during the war, and actually knew many of the Nazi leadership. He said there was a certain jealousy of people who saw serious books written outside of academia as threats.
     
    #16 govteach51, Mar 9, 2012
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  17. glfredrick

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    The issue is akin to the difference between a general practitoner and a specialist in the medical field.

    Academic books are written to convey a high level of scholarship, which is often ensconsed in extreme technical language of the field, in biblical studies with precise theological dialog and original biblical languages, with no apology made if the reader cannot follow or keep up the pace of the writer. The work is to inform, challenge, and to advance the cause of the writer.

    Popular level books on the other hand can share almost the same information, but they are written to be understood by virtually anyone who picks them up and pursues the content. Assumptions about the level of skill of the reader are often made, and care is taken to explain difficult concepts. The work is to convey a certain idea, which can be informative or not, and the work does not often advance the cause of the writer as much as it conveys things that the writer has discovered already into the general populace.

    Then, there is fiction, which is what SOME writings in both camps ends up being, whether intentional or not. The Jesus Seminar comes to mind right away...
     
  18. JonC

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    In my experience MacArthur was a required reading along with another who held a different perspective. (I remember having to read MacArthur and Rick Warren and contrast their views regarding the Church, for example). I also recall not being able to use systematic theology textbooks as source materials.
     
    #18 JonC, Mar 9, 2012
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  19. DaChaser1

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    I tend to see those books as being written at a highly techical level, that they would be exploring in much greater detail some doctrine of the faith, or practical application of such!

    examples would be college levels are the Surveys to OT/NT, while Seminary would be the full Introductions to OT/NT!

    systematic theology college would be the edited versions, while Seminary levels full books of say Grudem/Erickson!
     
    #19 DaChaser1, Mar 9, 2012
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  20. jaigner

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    Academic books are written by scholars and are peer-reviewed.
     

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