Tuesday, November 27, 2007

To Blurb or not to Blurb?: That is the question!

Many of you are well aware of the discussions swirling around the biblioblogosphere concerning Tom Schreiner's forthcoming New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. If not I refer you to Ben Witherington's post which got the whole thing started: "For God so loved Himself?" Is God a narcissist? Others, such as John Piper and Denny Burke have done an ample job of responding to Witheringon's criticisms, so I won't rehash the arguments from this debate.

What strikes me is that Witherington actually writes a blurb for Schreiner's N.T. Theology, a volume in which he is very critical. I am not so naive as to think that one has to be in 100% agreement with an author one is reviewing, and to Witherington's credit he states this in the blurb, but I'm wondering how helpful blurbs are for those of us who are avid book purchasers.

I was once told by a professor of mine not to buy books on the basis of the blurbs on the back, but I am still inclined to purchase something when I see the likes of an N.T. Wright, James Dunn, John Barclay, Gordon Fee, Richard Bauckham, etc. endorsing a book and its contents, than I am a book with no blurbs whatsoever.

So how important are blurbs? Should the criteria for buying books include questions such as: Is it the scholar's in whose opinion you respect? Is it the author him/her self? Is it the publisher? Is it the subject matter?

Let me know what you think.


Allan R. Bevere said...


A great question! I suppose the issue for me is that it is acceptable for someone to write a blurb for a book he or she strongly disagrees with because the book is rigorously argued and well written, but I also want that blurb to reflect the fact that the endorser also has some serious issues.

Matthew D. Montonini said...


Good to hear from you!

I would agree, is the question then more about the honesty of the endorser, i.e. are they giving it a 'thumbs up' without hinting about their reservations?

I guess I would have problem with that, more so than a "thumbs up" with some qualifications, in other words, full disclosure is always a good thing!