So recently I’ve been reading 4-5 books on (Christian) theology, and about 6-7 books on the Roman era (mostly focusing on military history). In both cases, the more I read, the more aware I become that I’m just scratching the surface of what there is to know about each topic.
In the case of the Roman era, I’m sure I could learn quite a bit more if I was a real historian-examining primary sources, brushing up on my Latin, etc. But even then, the best historians admit that there are huge gaps in ancient historical record, and we may never know quite a few important things, like for example what happened to the Roman army and why it suddenly became much smaller right before the Empire’s collapse.
Theology is a different animal altogether. Whenever I read a book on theology, it takes me a while to catch up on the terminology. When I do catch on (usually only to a limited extent, unless it’s something by my current bff, Tim Keller), I often find that I don’t know enough about theology or the historical background of the Gospels to really evaluate the competing claims regarding the interpretation of various verses or theological claims. I’m a high school senior trying to jump into a grad-level seminar, and the grad-level seminar is advancing faster than I ever will. This would be a little less disturbing if theology (the relationship between God and humanity) wasn’t the most important subject.
I can keep on reading, and I am a pretty fast reader (self-call), but because of the shortness of life, I’ll never come even close to understanding the most advanced literature on these or any other subjects. The best I can really do is get some grasp of how far I’m behind the cutting edge in the field. I suppose humility is always a useful concept to have reinforced. And I do get nuggets from some of the theological books (ok, just the Keller ones) that are actually useful in my life.
But I’m not going to stop being frustrated by the fact that I’ll be essentially a novice in these subjects for the rest of my life.