He Knew He Didn’t Know Everything (Peterson)

 So far I’m very much enjoying Eugene Peterson’s memoir, The Pastor.   While I don’t always agree with Peterson’s views, I do appreciate and benefit from his writing.  His memoir, The Pastor, is full of stories, wisdom, insight, missteps, and humor found in Peterson’s Christian life story as told by himself.

Here’s one great story about Peterson’s Ph.D. studies under OT scholar William Albright:

“He entered the classroom one morning telling us that he had awakened having solved the meaning of Moriah while he slept.  Both the meaning and location of Mount Moriah, where Abraham had bound Isaac for sacrifice, had always eluded scholars.  Professor Albright went to the chalkboard and soon had it filled with words from Ugaritic, Arabic, Assyrian, Aramaic, and of course, Hebrew.  He continued, excited and intense, for twenty minutes, at which point Prescott Williams, an older student who had already spent four years with him, interrupted, ‘But Dr. Albright, what about this and this and this [he was making reference to items of grammar and etymology that I knew nothing about].  Do you think that holds up?’  The Professor stopped, stepped back, and stared at the chalkboard for about twenty seconds.  And then he said, ‘Mr. Williams is right – forget everything I have said.’

It was an act of humility that I would soon learn was characteristic of Dr. Albright.  Everyone in that room knew he was capable of dismissing Williams and bluffing his way none of us would have known he was bluffing.  We all knew he knew everything.  But he knew he didn’t know everything and let us know he didn’t.”

I love those last two lines – especially the last one.  It’s a kind of humility that all Christians should have: whether professor, pastor or parishioner.

The above quote is found on pages 63-64 of The Pastor.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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