The Myth Of The Isolated Scholar

There is a myth about academic life that it is a solitary endeavor. Imagine lonely, stoic figures plodding single-file into a library to sit for hours, hidden behind walled study carrels, isolated and free from social distractions, a hushed silence strictly observed. The reality of the scholarly life is quite different, however. As Princeton historian Anthony Grafton has suggested, it is misleading to think of the history of scholarship as a “story” of mere individuals rather than, more accurately, the development of “common project[s] sustained by shared ideals, practices, and institutions.” There has always been, in other words, an intensely communal aspect to rigorous education and serious scholarship. This is no less true for the history of theological education in the Reformed tradition, from the Academy in Geneva during Calvin’s day to the great universities of Leiden, Franeker, Basel, Zurich, Heidelberg, and beyond, including the Puritan colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard College in the New World, and eventually “Old Princeton.” Throughout history, the best academic institutions have always celebrated a collective, communal model of education, learning and living together in shared and overlapping spaces. »

Ryan Glomsrud, Life Together

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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One comment

  1. For some reason, I get the image of Dr. Clark copying and pasting this post in his little office, shut off from the world, classic rock blaring from tiny little speakers.

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