"You pays your money and you takes your choice.” Several generations of students at Duke Divinity School have heard James “Mickey” Efird use those carnivalesque words to conclude debates over the meaning of a biblical passage. The words take on a new resonance now that students of the Bible can pay their money and receive Efird’s own interpretations via the Efird Bible Study Series, which features videos of Efird teaching and provides accompanying study guides (see efirdbiblestudies.com).
As a biblical scholar, Efird is something of a throwback. These days most seminarians do not serve as student-pastors, but Efird began working as a pastor when he was an undergraduate. He joined the Duke Divinity faculty after he graduated in the early 1960s and secured tenure at a time when one still could do so without having a long résumé of works written for other academics. Almost all his publications have been aimed at laypeople.