Interview with M. Harmon re: BZNW

Interview with M. Harmon re: BZNW August 4, 2009

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am trying to set up interviews with people who have published in the big 4-5 NT monograph series.  Today, I am delighted to post my interview with Matthew Harmon (Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN).  If you want to get to know Matt better, do check out his excellent blog

Q1: I saw that you studied at Wheaton College.  How did you like the program there?  Who was your supervisor?  Did he recommend a monograph publisher to you?  If yes, what were his reasons?

I enjoyed my three years at Wheaton immensely. The attempt to blend the best of North American and British Ph.D. programs was a good fit for me in that I wanted more coursework but also wanted to begin work on my dissertation right away. I had the great privilege of working under Doug Moo as my supervisor. He was a great blend of high expectations combined with grace and a pleasant disposition; we remain friends. I also had a good bit of interaction with Greg Beale. Although I had some conversation with Doug about potential publishers, he did not play much of a role in the pursuit of publication beyond that.

Q2: What drew your attention to Walter de Gruyter (BZNW)?  What are the benefits of publishing with them?

My connection to BZNW came through my participation in a panel discussion with Greg Stirling, who is a Professor at Notre Dame and an editor for the BZNW series. When I explained my dissertation topic to him, he expressed interest in it and suggested BZNW might be a good series for it. Several weeks later I attended the National SBL Conference here in the United States, and met with the BZNW people. They suggested I send in a PDF copy of my dissertation. And then I waited to hear from them.

So far my experience with Walter deGruyter has been very favorable. Unlike some academic publishers, they do not require the author to pay an upfront fee to publish the monograph and then pay out royalties. The flipside of that is that they do not pay royalties at all. Once the manuscript is submitted, they tell me the turnaround to being in print is 6-8 weeks.

Q3: How much re-working or modifying did you do on your thesis before you sent it off to BZNW?

I sent my dissertation “as is” to BZNW for them to evaluate. I debated making changes, but in the end I decided to let the publisher help me decide what changes should be made. I was afraid of investing a lot of work into revisions without any guarantee of “pay-off”

Q4: How much work did you have to do once the manuscript was accepted?  How long did it take?

When the publisher notified me that they accepted the manuscript, they sent a document with feedback from the reader who evaluated the dissertation. That feedback was presented to me as “we would like you to consider these changes, but we are not requiring you to make any.” I imagine that this sort of feedback would vary by manuscript. I signed the contract back in June, and they asked for a self-imposed deadline for the final manuscript within the next 12-18 months. I settled on a date in mid January 2010. So I am now in the process of making some revisions and typesetting the manuscript.

Deciding what changes to make has been very difficult. There are multiple areas where I would like to consider substantive changes. But I received some wise counsel from my mentor Doug Moo, who encouraged me to make some changes in order to put my best foot forward, but not to undertake too much and allow the project to consume me. I appreciated that advice immensely.

Q5: Looking back on your publishing experience, what might you have done differently, if anything?

Nothing comes to mind, but perhaps that will be different when I have actually finished the project!

Q6: Do you mind sharing what other projects you have on your table for the future?

The biggest thing I have learned in this whole area is that connections are so important. Friends and colleagues who are able to introduce you to key people with publishers is a very important way of getting a foot in the door. God has opened several doors for me. I have already written several articles for a Bible Dictionary that is being published by Baker sometime in the next few years. I am also working on:

-a commentary on Philippians in the Mentor series published by Christian Focus, probably out sometime in 2012

-a popular level book on the gospel centered life with a friend of mine that we do not yet have a contract on but have some interest from a publisher

-a chapter in a collection of essays on limited atonement/definite redemption, probably out in 2011-2012

I have other book ideas that I occasionally make notes on but typically am not working on.

THANKS MATT!  We look forward to seeing your monograph in print.

NB: Matt’s monograph is as follows

She Must and Shall Go Free: Paul’s Isaianic Gospel in Galatians (march 2010)

Scholars have long recognized the importance of Paul’s citations from the Pentateuch for understanding the argument of Galatians. But what has not been fully appreciated is the key role that Isaiah plays in shaping what Paul says and how he says it, even though he cites Isaiah explicitly only once (Isaiah 54:1 in Galatians 4:27). Using an intertextual approach to trace more subtle appropriations of Scripture (i.e., allusions, echoes and thematic parallels), Harmon argues that Isaiah 49-54 in particular has shaped the structure of Paul’s argument and the content of his theological reflection in Galatians. Each example of Isaianic influence is situated within its original context as well as its new context in Galatians. Attention is also paid to how those same Isaianic texts were interpreted in Second Temple Judaism, providing the larger interpretive context within which Paul read Scripture. The result is fresh light shed on Paul’s self-understanding as an apostle to the Gentiles, the content of his gospel message, his reading of the Abraham story and the larger structure of Galatians.

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