Friday, November 20, 2015

A Letter of Thanks to my Mentors from a Distance

It is always odd to read books that impact you, especially when you've never had the privilege to thank the author/s in person. I imagine it is incredibly awkward to shake his or her hand and say, "your book was really helpful" as most professors or theologians are a bit awkward as well!

But, in beginning my second year at Fuller Theological Seminary, I feel a bit of an impulse to thank and mention various theologians who have made my time easier, and helped influence me in my journey. So here goes nothing.

My thanks first and foremost go out to John Goldingay. Besides being a really helpful spiritual mentor (he is my priest at S.B., after all!), I've been greatly impacted by his work in Old Testament theology, and I recall a deep sense of calm after reading the first volume of his Old Testament Theology. If you haven't read it, please do yourself a favor and do so.

In thinking more about John, I have to thank him for being available for my often goofy questions about issues in the Old Testament, and his kindness in simply being a spiritual mentor. He may not know this, but I am enriched and rewarded every time I sit down in S.B., and the members there have made it feel like home.

The second major influence of my academic study has been Craig Allen Hill, who teaches at Fuller Irvine and other places. He was my Greek professor for my first two quarters, and my professor for Interpretive Practices. Aside from being gracious, he took the time to just meet with me for coffee, and I was honored that he did so. He was patient, and he taught me the language of the New Testament. I recall the first time I opened a Greek commentary (Ephesians, by Andrew T. Lincoln) and was able to read most of the Greek text, and I broke down. It was an empowering experience, and it confirmed a deep-seated desire to learn and grow into my Christian vocation.

I never had confidence that I could learn and do well at something, so the fact that I was able to learn a dead language and use it effectively was empowering. So I thank Craig Hill from the bottom of my heart.

Many more could be named, but Richard Hays (Duke Divinity School) has been a major influence on my theological development, especially his work in 1 Corinthians and the New Testament's use of the Old Testament. He revolutionized how I read Paul, and really pushed me to consider the ethical nature of Paul's instructions.

Ronald Pierce at Biola University has been a continued influence on my life. His course at Biola on women in the Bible was the first bible class I ever took seriously, and I was honored that he took the time to come to our wedding and see Allison and I take our vows. He's been a kind and spirited mentor from a distance and also a close spiritual guide for the difficulties in seminary. His course changed how I viewed the vocation of women, and challenged me to reconsider what I had previously been taught. For this, I am forever grateful.

Another influence (and I should really wrap this up!) is Philip Barton Payne. His book on Paul and women really settled a lot of issues I had, and his continued relationship at various conferences and over email has been helpful and delightful. The man is a walking lexicon and I am constantly grateful for his insight and grace as he helps this student meander through the rocky terrain of New Testament studies.

So, thanks Dr. Payne.

Last (and there is no 'last' to this list), my heart goes out to Gordon Fee. His commentary on 1 Corinthians was the first commentary I ever bought on my own, and it has continued to be a light into my life. He has alzheimers now, but his work in New Testament and also on behalf of women in ministry (c.f. DBE) has been a spiritual breeze in a Summer of spiritual difficulty. I wish I had the chance to study under him, but in watching his lectures on 1 Corinthians on youtube, you can catch a glimpse of the spiritual ferocity and sensitivity of this veteran interpreter of Scripture.

More could and should be mentioned, but these are the one's that have been most influential.


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