How do you identify yourself? 3


From shaun wong at flickr, used under creative commons license.

There have been discussions recently about online “identities” (and I suggested “personalities” is is really more to the point, we are still who we are but we may project a different aspect on one blog rather than another). We all know that questions of identity are extremely important, particularly how we identify ourselves.

This morning while shoveling very wet, heavy snow I was thinking about how I identify myself academically. I have my administrative role, I am a father and husband, and even a priest. Oddly enough those are all fairly clearly, if broadly, defined. But I realized I use a number of descriptors to explain what I do academically.

I am a

  • scholar of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature
  • literary historian
  • literary critic

I rarely say that I am a

  • biblical scholar – since my main research is in rabbinic commentaries
  • rabbinic scholar (or a scholar of rabbinic literature) – since my work is focused on the exegetical and homiletical works and most think of halakhic material when they hear “rabbinic literature”
  • theologian – since I am not
  • linguist – ditto

Perhaps I define myself more by what I (think that) I am not. Am I the only who feels a bit of uncertainty with labeling their work? How do you identify yourself academically or otherwise?


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3 thoughts on “How do you identify yourself?

  • Keith

    Apophasis, yes? Clever. I’m not a professor. I’m not a researcher. I’m not a denominational type of religious guy. I’m not a workaholic. I’m a guitar player, but not a professional. I am an English teacher and administrator. If people want more detail, I’m a good answerer of questions.

    I was just thinking yesterday about the usefulness of defining myself by my relationships rather than by my opinions or my work. I’m a husband, father, brother, and son. I’m a member of my church. I’m a friend to some of my favorite people in the world 😉 I’m fiercely loyal to those who choose to remain in relationship with me. And I like to think that I am known by God — adopted into his family, even. In the long run, I believe this last identity will prove most significant in shaping who I ever become.

  • Lee McCardle

    I chuckled at seeing the superman action figures with their “jointed elbows.” How appropriate for discussing such a question! Lee