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James Edwards
(1997-present) professor of theology
I am always grateful for you who are interested in news of our department. I have just completed my first full year as the Bruner-Welch Chair of Theology, which allows me to teach one semester and to research and write during the other. I taught full time in fall 2008, and more than ever it seemed to me that my students in Gospel of Mark and Romans were encountering the voice of the living Lord through Scripture, and with all the awe, energy and transformation that such an encounter entails. My 15 Greek Reading students were able, in addition to reading portions of the Septuagint and all of Galatians, to translate and unlock the mysteries of two second-century Greek inscriptions from Turkey.

In addition to teaching I made several speaking excursions - to Seattle, Indiana, Colorado and California - on denominational concerns. The theological struggles and numerical decline of the PCUSA seem to have become something of a refiner’s fire with regard to my own call and commitment to the church, and I sense something similar in the many faithful colleagues in ministry that I have come to know in our denomination.

In January I returned with 26 students to Germany, accompanied by my wife, Janie, and Adam Neder, our wonderfully gifted theologian, for a three-week exposure to the Reformation and German Church Struggle. This was my eighth time leading this study program over the decades. In 1970-71 I learned German while studying theology at the University of Zürich, and over the next two decades I developed a remarkable set of relationships with Christian pastors and leaders in then-Communist East Germany. Those relationships continue to inform and inspire our students, and I continue to experience an intellectual and spiritual endorphin surge when I help students encounter these remarkable, almost revelatory, epochs in history.

The opportunities that the Bruner-Welch Chair affords me are a perfect match at this stage of my career. The vocational antiphony between teaching and scholarship is truly a spiritual gift. In addition to teaching, the Bruner-Welch Chair allows me equally to focuson the other aspect my calling, to be a scholar of the church, which for the past three decades has been relegated to the seams and cracks of my vocational patchwork. How grateful I am for this season. By God’s grace, I have been more productive in my writing in the last 12 months than ever before. In addition to completing The Hebrew Gospel and the Formation of the Synoptic Tradition (the publication of which I await this fall), I have focused in the past several months on several preliminary studies in preparation for a commentary on the Gospel of Luke for the Pillar New Testament Commentary, for which I wrote the Mark commentary. If and when Dale Bruner and I complete our respective commentaries, we'll have a "Whitworth Gospel Commentary".

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John!

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