Helpful Tips on Publishing Scholarly Monographs

I need to begin this post with a caveat: I have never written a monograph. There are many reasons for this, chief among them my propensity toward distraction and boredom. Simply put, at this season in my life I can’t think of a single historical topic to which I want to devote 200 or more pages. I can, however, think of dozens of topics to which I want to devote 15–50 pages as well as numerous primary sources that I wish to see reprinted in critical editions. For that reason, my own scholarly publications tend to fall into three broad categories: 1) journal articles or contributed essays; 2) critical book reviews; 3) editing primary sources. Perhaps I’ll write a monograph or two at some point, but don’t hold your breath. For the time being, that’s not really my style.

Because I have never written a monograph, I’m obviously not an authority on this topic. However, I work with lots of authorities on this topic. (Maybe I can pass myself off as an authority by osmosis?) I also know that many readers of this blog are seminary students and younger scholars who probably do want to write monographs. So my desire in this post is not to position myself as an authority, but rather to point readers to a helpful resource I have found for those interested in publishing academic monographs.

Religion in American History is a consortium blog of mostly college and university historians who study American religious history. Some of the contributors are evangelicals, while others are not. Many have written on topics that at least intersect with the interests of the readers of Between the Times. Religion in American History is a particularly helpful resource if you want to read substantive reviews of recent monographs (and sometimes important journal articles) in the field of American religious history.

Randall Stephens, who serves as one of the three “blogmeisters” for Religion in American History, has written a helpful post titled “Turning it into a Book.” In that post, Stephens collates suggestions from various publishers, along with his own insights on the topic. While Stephens focuses primarily on publishing for university presses, his suggestions also apply to church historians and other scholars who wish to publish monographs with other types of scholarly presses such as Eerdmans, Baker Academic, IVP Academic, Zondervan, Wipf and Stock, Pickwick, or T&T Clark (to name a few options). I think they also generally apply to scholars (or even pastors) who wish to publish monographs, textbooks, or even semi-scholarly books with more conservative evangelical presses such as Crossway, B&H, Moody, and Kregel.

If I ever do get around to writing a monograph (my lonely and heretofore unpublished dissertation is screaming at me from the shelf as I type), then I’ll consult Stephens’s helpful post on the front-end of that project. No doubt many of this blog’s readers will “beat me to the punch” and publish one or more scholarly monographs. If so, I hope you folks also find Stephens’s post useful, even if you are writing in a different discipline than my own.

(Note: This post was first published at Historia Ecclesiastica on April 26, 2013. It has been revised for a broader audience.)

Book Notice: “Excellence” by Andreas Köstenberger

Andreas Köstenberger has been a colleague of mine for a decade now. He is the author of scores of books and articles, the number of which perhaps exceeds the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. His most recent book (I think he averages a book per week), Excellence, is a powerful and elegant little volume arguing that God is excellent in every way, and that he is the fountainhead of excellence, and that we as scholars ought to participate in his excellence by doing our work with excellence. We at BtT interviewed Dr. Köstenberger, the results of which are found below. (The interview was excellent.)

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your ministry.

I have taught at Southeastern for 15 years and for about 10 years served as Director of our Ph.D. Program. My wife Marny and I have 4 children (including 3 teenagers!). I also edit the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society and serve as Director of Acquisitions for B & H Academic.

2. What was the impetus for writing this book? What does it contribute to the field?

Years ago, I wrote a little pamphlet entitled “The Marks of a Scholar.” It was originally a talk I gave to some of our Ph.D. Students at the request of John Sailhamer, who preceded me as director. Somehow Justin Taylor of Crossway Books learned about this booklet, perhaps through my blog, www.biblicalfoundations.org, and encouraged me to expand the booklet into a larger treatment on scholarly excellence. My primary burden is to tell theology students that they need not compromise their faith and their commitment to a high view of Scripture for the sake of gaining approval by their scholarly peers. I believe my book is one of the few books on excellence that grounds the call to excellence in the character of God, hence the subtitle The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue.

3. What is the primary argument of the book?

My main thesis is that God is excellent in every way, and he has called us to excellence as well. My main passage in Scripture is 2 Peter 1:3-11, which grounds God’s call to excellence in his own excellence and urges believers to make every effort to add to their faith excellence and a series of other virtues. So I start out my book with a chapter on the excellence of God and a discussion of 2 Peter 1:3-11. After this, I deal with God’s call to holiness (sanctification) and the biblical notion of spirituality. The remainder of the book is taken up with a discussion of over a dozen Christian and scholarly virtues in 3 major categories: vocational, moral, and relational excellence, including virtues such as diligence, courage, wisdom, interdependence, and, of course, love.

4. What, above all, do you wish for readers to know and/or do because of the book?

I want all of us to reflect profoundly on the excellence of God and then consider that God has called each of us to pursue excellence in everything we do. As evangelical Christians, and as evangelical scholars, we have not always been known for our commitment to excellence. My desire is for us to develop a vision of how we can glorify God by reflecting His excellence in our work and relationships. For this reason, this book truly is for everyone, not just for scholars. It certainly is very relevant for all students and those called to pastoral ministry or service in the local church.online game