For the academic, peer-review publication is one of the primary badges of honor, as well as a fundamental way we contribute to knowledge. Very different from regular publishing, we don't get paid for the labor, and it is very hard work, since experts in the field (our "peers") rigorously scour the document for errors. The final product is believed to be the best contribution to scientific knowledge that we can create, and thus gets the label of "peer-reviewed."
Later this month I will have my first peer-reviewed article published in the Journal of Biblical Literature. (Townsley, Jeramy. 2011. “Paul, the Goddess Religions, and Queer Sects: Romans 1:23-28.” Journal of Biblical Literature 130(4): 707-728). I knew the creation process would be arduous--it took me 15 years to create the document, and was rejected probably 8 times by various journals, each time suggesting major revisions. After each revision the paper was stronger, and Journal of Biblical Literature is typically considered the top journal in the field, so the time was well spent. However, I wasn't aware how long the process would take once the article was accepted--almost 2 years from the time I originally submitted the article to them, and 15 months from the time the article was officially accepted!! Both articles are unique in that they approach a an analysis of Romans 1 through the lens of sociology, specifically, findings of the field of "sociology of sexuality."
In the process of doing the research for this article, I collected enough data to create a 2nd article as well, which has tentatively been accepted by the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, again, the top journal of the field. It is a more 'generalist' journal rather than specifically 'Biblical Studies,' which is what JBL does. The process of being accepted by JAAR also appears to be a very long process, since it has been over a year between the time I first submitted the article and its tentative acceptance. If my experience with JBL is instructive, it may be another 2 years before the "part 2" article appears in JAAR. Whereas "part 2" is a review of the history up until Paul wrote Romans and the social context at the time of Paul's writing, including a linguistic analysis, "part 2" is a review of the history of the usage of Romans 1 by the church after Paul through the 1st millennium.