"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.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).