Whitworth Theology Department Annual Newsletter 2018
James Edwards (1997-2015), Professor Emeritus of Theology
As I write this newsletter, Janie and I are preparing to lead a Core 650 study tour to Israel with 40 Whitworth trustees, supporters, friends and alumni. It is a wonderful group, and it promises to be a fine tour, the first Whitworth has sponsored to Israel since my last trip there with students in 1999 — and the first Core 650 tour of Israel. A tour to Israel is a remarkable experience. The land and its history are like a fifth Gospel, but it's not an idyllic flight to the past: the conflicts in Israel are ongoing and the plight of Palestinians there, many of whom are Christians, is distressing.
In last year's newsletter I could see the finish line in my biography of Ernst Lohmeyer. I submitted a completed manuscript in October, included 15 original photographs that will appear in the middle of the book, and am now reading (and rereading) page proofs. The book should be published later this year. Throughout its gestation process I thought of a hundred possible titles, none of which seemed quite right. You would think an author would know the proper title for his book, but the task finally fell to the publisher: Between the Swastika and the Sickle. The Life, Disappearance, and Execution of Ernst Lohmeyer (Eerdmans, 2018).
Last fall I taught a Bible class at Whitworth Church titled "From Christ to Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the Christian Church." I have been thinking and reading on this subject for several years, and with the Bible class I broke ground for a book on the subject. Within 75 years — a single long lifetime — the movement founded by Jesus, which was closely tied to the rural Jewish culture of Galilee, became an influential force throughout the urban Gentile world of antiquity. The shape and characteristics of the church differed greatly from their inception in the ministry of Jesus, but the essence of the gospel proclaimed by Jesus remained unchanged. I hope my research may provide a compass to aid our church today as it faces challenges and changes.
I am especially grateful for the fulfillment of a long hoped-for dream and prayer, thanks to the foresight of Jerry Sittser, Beck Taylor, and the financial generosity of the Beeksma family, that in fall 2018 a consolidated theology department will commence its teaching mission in the newly renovated chapel. 2018 is also a milestone-year for me personally. Janie and I have been married 50 years, and our oldest grandson, Anders Berg, graduates from college (West Point). We are celebrating by taking our whole family — 12 total — on a tour of the Greek Peloponnese and several Greek islands off the west coast of Turkey.