I’m currently writing a (now long overdue) review essay of Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology for the Expository Times. One of the book’s more unusual features, within the realm of systematic theologies at least, is the author’s frank admission that he is not a systematic theologian by training.
Another confession that I have to make is that I am not by speciality a systematic theologian. I cut my scholarly teeth in the realm of biblical studies. I’ve worked in areas as diverse as the historical Jesus, Synoptic Gospels, the life of Paul, New Testament theology, Second Temple literature, and textual criticism, and I have even written a commentary on 1 Esdras based exclusively on codex Vaticanus. Not exactly the standard training ground for a systematician, who is supposed to do a mandatory PhD on Karl Barth and thereafter write a postdoctoral tome on something like divine aseity and divine freedom, enhypostasis versus anhypostasis, or sexual repression in Augustine’s sermons (not my bag unfortunately).
– Michael Bird, Evangelical Theology, 25.
In comparison to this, I suppose my training in systematics has followed a more conventional path: as a seminarian I watched in awe as Donald Macleod constructed a living systematic theology before our eyes. Then followed the ‘mandatory’ systematics PhD (albeit not on Barth), a monograph based on my dissertation, a postdoc at a continental European university, and now my current lectureship, with its ongoing research and teaching.