On Being a Bibliogian©

Bibliogian Biblical Scholar

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works.Tweets at @peteenns.

Slide1The English language cannot contain what I do.

So, by the power vested in me by the Internet, I hereby invent a new word, Bibliogian©. Anytime you use it footnote me and send me $1.

Theologians, church historians, and philosophers have their own words. So why can’t I?

Hi, my name’s Tim and I’m a philosopher. My name’s Susan and I’m a historian. My name’s Ruprecht and I’m a theologian. 

Hi, my name’s Pete and I’m a Bib. . .  uh . . .

Bible guy,

Bible person,

I do Bible,

biblical scholar.

You see my dilemma. And if you don’t, you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

I don’t like using the noun “Bible” as an adjective. Noun modifiers make the grammar gods unhappy. Plus it’s cumbersome and as I said I want my own word, which is the entire point of this post.

Using the adjective “biblical” generates it’s own problems.

Calling myself a “biblical guy/person” sounds like I am trying to assert my orthodoxy when what I am after is a job description. “Biblical scholar” fails because, not only are we back to 2 words (where I want 1) but it’s pretentious:

Hi, my name’s Pete and I’m a biblical scholar. You’re not. Do not approach me, speak my name, or make eye contact.

Someone who “does” philosophy is a philosopher, but I have a feeling “bibler” won’t catch on. Say it 10 times fast.

The closest we “Bible people” have to our own word is “biblicist,” but that sounds awkward. A typist is one who types; a stylist is one who styles hair. A biblicist is one who bibles (?!).

Another problem with “biblicist” is that it suggests biblicism, which I want to avoid at all costs—like going to a Cher concert.

Biblicism is the tendency to appeal to individual biblical verses or collections of apparently uniform verses from diverse contexts to give the appearance of clear, authoritative, and unimpeachable solutions to what are in fact complex interpretive and theological issues generated by the fact that we have a complex and diverse Bible.

What I do as a “Bible guy,” etc., is to not do that and try to teach others not ever to do that, either.

Plus “biblicist” could be misheard as “Baptist,” and even though “some of my best friends are Baptists,” I don’t want to be one (and they don’t want me, either).

So biblicist won’t work. We need our own name with -ian at the end, and Bibliogian© is the perfect solution.

Bible + logos (the study of) + ian (one who does that, and with formal training).

This is a great word and I hereby humbly force it on you. Say it 100x and it will stay with you forever.

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Pete Enns is a bibliogian, and his two most recent bibliogical books are The Sin of Certainty and The Bible Tells Me So[See? Rolls right off the tongue.]

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