I am quoting a bible commentator for a paper I am writing, and was wondering if I should say, "One scholar says..." or if I should just stick with "One commentator says..."

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    I’m voting to close this question because it belongs to another site, possible Academia.SE. I think you should follow the convention of writing a research paper. You probably can use the person's name. If the commentator has a MA/PhD degree from an accredited college, then "scholar" is appropriate. In either case, you need to have a footnote that shows the book you cited. Jul 3, 2021 at 23:04
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    Examples (from Carson's commentary on John): 1) Barrett writes, ‘That the synagogue had already at that time applied a test of Christian heresy is unthinkable’ (p. 361). For Martyn, as we have seen (cf. notes at the beginning of this chapter), this verse becomes the critical justification for his detailed ‘two level’ reading of the chapter. 2) Another scholar observes that in the feeding of the five thousand there were originally five little loaves of bread. 3) Many contemporary commentators think of vv. 15–23 as a fundamentally different unit from what precedes ... Jul 3, 2021 at 23:21
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    From the examples above, the pattern seem to be: 1) use the person's name when quoting; 2) use "scholar" when the name of the scholar is not important in this context, for referring to non-commentary work; 3) use "commentator" when the name of the scholar is not important in this context, for referring to commentary work. Jul 3, 2021 at 23:23

1 Answer 1


Are Bible commentators considered scholars?

Only if they possess the required intellectual baggage so to speak.

In other words, some biblical commentators are scholars, while others are not! Check their credentials!

If the commentator has a M.A. or better yet a Ph.D. or a Th.D. degree from an accredited college (seminary), then "scholar" is appropriate. In either case, you need to have a footnote that shows the book you cited.

As the name suggests, Biblical scholarship is obviously related to the Bible. Scholar comes from the Latin word schola, meaning a school, and this word denotes a learned person within a particular discipline. By this simple definition, a Biblical scholar is a person who is learned in the Scriptures. Is this all that there is to Biblical scholarship? Based upon this elementary definition it would appear that there are Biblical scholars all throughout the land in various churches. After all, the local church as the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15) is instructed to teach “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Furthermore, those within the local church are instructed to “commit” the same doctrine to “faithful men” (2 Tim. 2:2) and to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Biblical scholarship is usually designated through the use of various academic degrees. Some of the more prominent degrees include the Master of Divinity (M.Div.), the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), and the Doctor of Theology (Th.D.). Although the specific hourly and writing requirements may differ, the attainment of any one of these degrees usually demonstrates that an individual has mastered certain areas of theology. Obviously, the more degrees that an individual holds indicates a higher level of scholarship. - What is Biblical Scholarship?

Wikipedia explains the academic perspective as follows:

The Master of Divinity has replaced the Bachelor of Divinity in most United States seminaries as the first professional degree, since the former title implied in the American academic system that it was on a par with a Bachelor of Arts or other basic undergraduate education even though a bachelor's degree previously was and remains a prerequisite for entrance into graduate divinity programs. The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada accredits most Christian schools in North America and approves the degree programs they offer, including the M.Div.

The M.Div. is a significantly more extensive program than most taught (as opposed to research-based) master's degrees. In the United States the degree usually consists on average of 90 semester hours, as opposed to the usual 36 or 48. Ordination in most mainline Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church thus requires seven or eight years of education past high school: the first four in undergraduate studies leading to a bachelor's degree (which may or may not be in a related field) and then three or four years of seminary or divinity school education leading to the M.Div..

The M.Div. stands in contrast to the Master of Arts (MA) in theology and Master of Theological Studies (MTS), the usual academic degrees in the subject (which tend not to include "pastoral" or "practical" courses), and the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB), Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL), Master of Theology (MTh), Master of Sacred Theology (STM), and Master of Religion (MRel), which are also academic degrees. Schools with Pontifical faculties in North America often award both the M.Div. and STB at the same time after a three-year period of graduate studies.

Seminaries are institutions that train individuals to become Biblical Scholars and ministers at the same time.

A seminary is a graduate institution (offering master’s and/or doctoral degrees) that prepares people for ministry as pastors, priests, or rabbis. Therefore, there are Jewish seminaries, Catholic seminaries, and Protestant seminaries. Sometimes, a seminary may be called a divinity school. A seminary may be part of a larger university or a school that stands alone. Protestant seminaries may be operated by churches or denominations, or they may be independent. Independent seminaries may have a particular focus, such as Evangelical theology or, more narrowly, apologetics, dispensational theology, missions, or church planting. Some seminaries are better known for practical ministry training, while others focus on academic and theological rigor. Some were started by churches or denominations but later severed or minimized their ties with the founding church or denomination.

The foundational degree that most seminaries offer is the Master of Divinity (M.Div.), but many will also offer a Master of Theology (Th.M.), a D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry), or a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) degree.

The word seminary is from the Latin word for “seed.” The seminary is a place where ideas (preferably true ideas) can be planted, germinate, and take root in the lives of the students and then bear fruit that they can then share with those they minister to.

The Bible speaks nothing of seminaries by that name, but it does mention formal education and religious training. Paul “studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law” (Acts 22:3). Jesus commanded His followers to teach others (Matthew 28:19–20). Timothy is directed to train church leaders: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

In the book of Acts, we find what could be considered an early prototype of the modern seminary. Paul was in Ephesus, where he spoke in the synagogue for about three months, until the Jews’ obstinacy forced him to leave. But the training in the Gospel continued: “He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:9–10). A daily discussion of theology for two years in a lecture hall—this sounds very much like the practice of the modern seminary.

God’s approved workers are described as “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV), a quality that assumes a study of the Word. God can use those who have never been to seminary—the apostles Peter and John were “unschooled” (Acts 4:13). But the formal study of Scripture can be a tool God uses as well, and seminaries can provide that training. - What is a seminary?

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