Dr. Gary Anderson is Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at the University of Notre Dame and is quickly becoming one of the world’s leading scholars of Second Temple Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls and especially of biblical interpretation among early Jews and early Christians. He is also a Protestant convert to Catholicism. He earned a B.A. from Albion College, an M.Div. from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
Dr. Anderson was raised Protestant and in fact entered Duke University as a Protestant seminarian. He writes some brief autobiographical insights in his important book The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination. He tells how important studying church history at Duke University under such giants as Dr. David Steinmetz helped point him in the direction of the Catholic Church. He eventually entered the Roman Catholic Church and became one of the leading Catholic scholars of early biblical interpretation.
Dr. Anderson’s story is interesting because he was initially trained in Enlightenment-shaped historical biblical criticism. At Harvard he studied ancient biblical languages and historical methodology from such luminaries as Dr. Frank Moore Cross (W.F. Albright’s famous student). It was at Harvard, however, that Dr. Anderson became a student of the great Jewish scholars of biblical interpretation, Dr. Moshe Goshen-Gottstein and Dr. James Kugel, and it is from them especially that he learned the importance of studying the history of the Bible’s reception in Jewish contexts, and thus became a leading scholar in that field.1
While teaching for about a decade at the University of Virginia, Dr. Anderson immersed himself in the world of early Greek Christian biblical interpretation through regular readings and discussions with his esteemed colleagues there, Dr. Robert Louis Wilken and Dr. Judith Kovacs. He writes of this experience that it “was almost like a second graduate degree in early Christianity.”2 In addition, for about fifteen years, Dr. Anderson read and studied St. Ephrem in Syriac with two leading Syriac specialists, Dr. Sidney Griffith and Dr. Robin Darling Young.3 Eventually, his reputation grew so much in the field of biblical interpretation, that Harvard University hired him to teach at their prestigious institution. Anyone interested in how early Jews and Christians interpreted the Bible, particularly biblical stories about Adam and Eve, or biblical concepts like Sin and redemption, should start reading Dr. Anderson’s works if you haven’t already. His writings on sin are especially important for understanding the biblical roots of Catholic concepts like indulgences and the importance of almsgiving.
Select Bibliography of Dr. Anderson’s works:
Sin: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sin-History-Gary-Anderson/dp/0300149891/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263831593&sr=1-2
The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2001. Available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Perfection-%C3%82-Adam-Christian-Imagination/dp/066422699X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263831523&sr=1-1
“Mary in the Old Testament.” Pro Ecclesia 16 (2007): 33-55.
“Redeem Your Sins by the Giving of Alms: Sin, Debt, and the ‘Treasury of Merit’ in Early Judaism and Christianity.” Letter & Spirit 3 (2007): 37-67.
“Biblical Origins and the Problem of the Fall.” Pro Ecclesia 10 (2001): 1-14.
“From Israel’s Burden to Israel’s Debt: Towards a Theology of Sin in Biblical and Early Second Temple Sources.” In Reworking the Bible: Apocryphal and Related Texts at Qumran, ed. Esther G. Chazon, Devorah Dimant, and Ruth Clements, 1-30. Leiden: Brill, 2005.
“The Status of the Torah in the Pre-Sinaitic Period: St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.” In Biblical Perspectives: Early Use and Interpretation of the Bible in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Michael E. Stone and Esther G. Chazon, 1-23. Leiden: Brill, 1998.
“The Cosmic Mountain: Eden and Its Early Interpreters in Syriac Christianity.” In Genesis 1-3 in the History of Exegesis: Intrigue in the Garden, ed. Gregory Allen Robbins, 187-224. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1988.