News from Israel

0 Commentsby   |  03.25.15  |  Sabbatical

To many people, the word “sabbatical” conjures up images of professors sitting on the beach sipping cold drinks or something equally restful and unproductive. In reality, however, sabbatical time for professors is usually a time to retool and create new works of scholarship that will also serve their teaching.

This was certainly the case for me last fall. I had the privilege of serving as the Seymour Gitin Professor at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research (AIAR) in East Jerusalem. Sy Gitin was the longtime director of the Albright and one of the most illustrious archaeologists of the past generation, and so it was an honor to bear a senior fellowship bearing his name. The Albright Institute, in turn, is named for the great Syro-Palestinian archaeologist William F. Albright, whose influence has been felt far and wide for many decades. Again, a great honor.

So what does the holder of a fellowship (i.e., a fellow, whether male or female) at a research institute like the Albright do for four and half months? First of all, I lived in the building you see in the attached pictures, a grand old structure representing the best of Palestinian archaeology from the last century. Several fellows lived in dormitory-like conditions (private rooms but with the bathroom down the hall), a situation very conducive for work, but also for new friendships. These scholars, both men and women, came from several countries (the U.S., Britain, Hungary, China, and Malaysia) and worked on projects ranging from Mycenaean pottery to Iron Age Israelite seals to Middle Kingdom Egyptian texts. Our only daily duty was to share dinner together each evening in the Institute’s dining room. This is a great community of young and not so young scholars (from those writing PhD dissertations to more senior scholars), who genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and learned from each other.

The second thing I did was write and read, all day, every day. The Albright has a fine library of its own, particularly for the archaeology of Palestine/Israel, but three blocks away is one of the half dozen best theological libraries in the world, at the Ecole Biblique et archaeologique française, a Dominican house of study world renowned for its scholarship. For more information, see their website at www.ebaf.edu. My project is a book I’m writing on the idea of God as king. It’s a theme I’ve been working on for several years and hope to finish in the next year or so.

The third thing I got to do was tour. Since the fellows at the Albright are all scholars, and most are archaeologists (with a few of us biblical people thrown in to liven things up!), this was an exciting thing to do. We had the privilege of touring ongoing excavations usually led by the primary excavator or his or her most senior assistant. This is always an opportunity to learn a lot, and not the run-of-the-mill touristy sort of trip.

And lastly, the time in Israel was an opportunity to pray and to think about my relationship with God. To pray inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, near the probable site of Jesus’ passion, is of course a moving thing. So also are joining on many Sabbaths with a messianic synagogue in their pursuit of a relationship with Yeshua ha-Mashiach, praying in the Anglican Church of St. George, and attending a Christmas Eve service in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity with Palestinian Christians. All these were meaningful experiences for my own walk. Also, living with a number of people who are not Christians, but are marvelous and honorable people, gave me an opportunity to become clearer about what it means to be salt and light in the world.

So what is happening this spring after a semester in Israel and Palestine? That’s the subject of my next post. Stay tuned.

Jerusalem, Fall 2014

Mark Hamilton

Robert and Kay Onstead Professor of Old Testament

The Mdiv Is Now Offered Online

by   |  03.05.15  |  Announcements

Students interested in advanced ministry training at Abilene Christian University will soon have a new online option. Starting this summer, the ACU Graduate School of Theology will offer the Master of Divinity degree online.

“The GST has always been called to serve the church for the sake of the world,” said Dr. Mindi Thompson, director of distance education for the Graduate School of Theology. “Now, we are even better equipped to fulfill that calling by offering the Master of Divinity online.”

A Master of Divinity is a professional graduate degree designed to prepare students for careers in ministry. Graduates are equipped to serve as congregational ministers, Christian educators, campus ministers, chaplains, church planters, and in various other ministry contexts.

Historically, students interested in earning an M.Div. or other advanced theological training at ACU were required to move to Abilene to earn their degree. “In some cases, we know that asking students to pick up their lives and relocate for graduate work also asks them to put their ministry careers on hold,” said Dr. Tim Sensing, associate dean of the ACU Graduate School of Theology.

ACU was recently granted permission by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) to offer the Master of Divinity degree online. Now, students will be able to complete the majority of their coursework online.

The program requires 72 credits and is designed to be completed in 48 months by students who are also working full or part time. Online courses will be offered in a seven-week format, and students will complete one course at a time over a seven-week period.

In addition to online courses, students in the Master of Divinity program are required to complete four courses in residence. Residency requirements may be met through completion of one-week intensive courses, courses scheduled over two long weekends or by participating in one of our international residency options.

“So many of our students are already serving in local congregations,” Thompson said. “Offering the Master of Divinity online allows us to serve students at a greater distance from Abilene. In doing so, we learn what God is doing in churches across the country and around the world, and this gives us greater insight into how best to train the next generation of church leaders.”

For more information about the online Master of Divinity, visit acu.edu/mdiv.

Congratulations Students

by   |  02.02.15  |  Announcements, Church History, Restoration History

Three GST students have been selected to present at the annual Stone-Campbell Journal Conference April 9-11.  This conference brings scholars and students from across the country both from schools affiliated with the Stone-Campbell Movement and beyond–including ACU, TCU, Claremont, Lipscomb, Vanderbilt, etc.
Sarah Dannemiler is one of three finalists in the general graduate student paper competition discussing her work on the influence of right wing politics on Pepperdine University in the 1960s. Kipp Swinney has been selected to present his paper on the use of the book of Job in Alexander Campbell’s “canon” in the “Issues in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement” study group. And Laura Estes won the Isaac Errett competition for Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement history studies with her paper on the first Stone-Campbell mission to Jerusalem and the theological rationale of a shift of focus from the Jewish population to the Muslims.
Appreciation goes to Dr. Doug Foster for mentoring and facilitating student research in the Stone-Campbell tradition.

Jacob of Serugh

by   |  01.24.15  |  ACU, Announcements

Dr. Jeff Childers, the Carmichael-Walling Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity in the Graduate School of Theology at ACU, has been invited to participate in a special workshop occurring at Princeton University in January 2015. A group of eight scholars from places such as Holland, Israel, and the U.S. will gather as guests of the university for a workshop-conference on Jacob of Serugh. Jacob (d. 521) was a Christian bishop whose extensive writings greatly influenced Christianity in the Middle East. Jacob wrote in Syriac and worked in a district now located in southeast Turkey near the Syrian border. Although his surviving works number into the hundreds and his legacy left a deep impact on Christianity in the region, our knowledge of Jacob is still at an early stage. A growing number of researchers, students, and even a popular readership are taking an interest in this creative author and leader. In an effort to help put our knowledge of this important figure on a more solid footing, specialists are gathering at Princeton this month to discus key topics related to Jacob’s legacy. Childers has been invited to present original research on Jacob of Serugh’s treatment of the New Testament text. Jacob’s sermons and letters are saturated with references to scripture and his brilliant treatment of the biblical text remains one of the most attractive features of his work.

Divining Gospel

by   |  12.07.14  |  Announcements, Bible

Dr. Jeff Childers, the Carmichael-Walling Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity in the Graduate School of Theology at ACU, has been invited to lecture in Norway in December 2014. A select group of scholars from various parts of the world will gather as guests of the Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo in a conference entitled, The Bible as Notepad. This conference focuses on the ways in which ancient Bibles were read, edited, and marked up by actual users over the centuries. In his lecture, “Divining Gospel,” Childers will present original research on a unique Syriac Bible from the sixth century that also contains a complicated fortune-telling apparatus alongside the Gospel text. Comparing Greek, Latin, Coptic, Armenian, and Georgian sources, Childers has found that there was once a very lively trade in using Gospel books as fortune-telling guides to life, until it was suppressed by church authorities and practically stamped out of existence.

GST Announces Affordability Initiative

by   |  11.26.14  |  Announcements

Commitment to churches is a priority at Abilene Christian University. A new affordability initiative, which launches next summer in ACU’s Graduate School of Theology, is the latest in a series of efforts to build upon that commitment.

Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, the ACU Graduate School of Theology will roll out a program pricing plan designed to reduce the cost of its master’s programs and make a graduate theological education more accessible to those considering a career in ministry.

Under the program pricing model, tuition will be calculated as a fixed price based on a student’s degree program.

“In setting the tuition rate for a particular program, program pricing allows us to consider both the cost to deliver a degree program and a student’s future earning potential,” Tim Sensing, associate dean of the Graduate School of Theology said. “Program pricing will also allow us to consider a student’s need for financial support and to make the best use of our scholarship resources.”

The plan will reduce the cost of the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Arts in Global Service, and other Master of Arts programs by approximately 41 percent based on current tuition. Additionally, students will lock in a fixed program tuition rate for their degree that will not increase as long as they are continuously enrolled.

“Our affordability initiative in the Graduate School of Theology is the latest step toward ACU’s commitment to serving churches,” Ken Cukrowski, dean of the College of Biblical Studies said. “We know that ministers serve in contexts where they may earn less than other professions and we are committed to helping ministers graduate with less debt. Doing so helps reduce the burden of financial pressures and allows ministers to serve more effectively in churches and other ministry contexts.”

In addition to a reduction in tuition, the ACU Graduate School of Theology offers generous scholarship support. “In 2014, virtually every student received some form of scholarship support,” Sensing said.

For more information about the Graduate School of Theology’s affordability initiative, visit acu.edu/gst

Hot Off the Press

by   |  08.29.14  |  Announcements

Congratulations to James Thompson on his new book The Church According to Paul: Rediscovery Community Conformed to Christ. The book is a wonderful addition to his other titles also published by Baker Academic (Pastoral Ministry according to Paul; Moral Formation according to Paul; Preaching Like Paul; and Hebrews). See Baker Academic Press.

The reviews are in and the verdict is plain, you will be blessed by this book.

“James Thompson, always with one foot planted firmly in the academy and the other in the church, has given us a highly insightful, theologically rich, and timely study of the apostle Paul’s view of the church—one of the best Pauline ecclesiologies in print. Thompson argues compellingly that Paul’s first-century vision of the church as a distinctive community speaks clearly to the twenty-first century. This excellent volume should be studied not only by students of Paul, but also by all who are (rightly) concerned about the identity and mission of the church today.”

Michael J. Gorman, St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore, Maryland

The Church according to Paul is as challenging as it is clever. It is clever because Thompson takes contemporary visions of the church and replaces the language of their proponents with Paul’s own language, thereby upturning today’s categories. It is challenging because it virtually dares those who are concerned with the state of the church today to rethink the church according to the mind of Paul. All in all, The Church according to Paul is a useful and quite valuable read for anyone interested in either the church or the Bible, perhaps even both.”

Raymond F. Collins, Brown University

“Diagnoses of the church’s problems and prescriptions for its flourishing abound. As James Thompson wisely observes, however, most contemporary discussion of the church shows little evidence of engagement with the letters of Paul. In this careful volume, Thompson studies the church in Paul’s words and his work, in the hope that Paul’s rich wisdom might have its rightful place in contemporary Christian reflection.”

Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Baylor University

“In this stunning and much-needed study of Pauline ecclesiology, Thompson offers far more than careful historical scholarship concerning the apostle’s understanding of church. While his analysis provides a first-class treatment of Paul’s letters as first-century documents, he also rediscovers ideas that speak to the contemporary church. The result of Thompson’s work is that rare learned book that is grounded in sure-footed and careful biblical scholarship yet speaks powerfully to the church today about its role and outreach to modern society. A scintillating achievement that is vital for the church as it seeks to understand its continuing role in the wider secular culture.”

Paul Foster, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

 

Quick Look at the GST’s Degree Offerings

by   |  08.25.14  |  Announcements

Our program is built on the fine reputation of our faculty and the quality of the curriculum. I am often asked about the various degree offerings. Below are several pdf brochures describing the various GST degrees.

Contact us today if you are interested in pursuing a masters degree with the Graduate School of Theology.

The Top 20 Online Theology Master’s Degree Programs

by   |  06.11.14  |  Announcements

Abilene Christian University’s M.A. in Christian Ministry was recently recognized as one of “The Top 20 Online Theology Master’s Degree Programs” by TheBestSchools.org. Here is the link to that article: http://www.thebestschools.org/top-20-online-theology-masters-degree-programs/

TheBestSchools.org selected ACU’s program based on several weighted factors, including academic excellence, course offerings, accomplishment of faculty, and reputation, including reputation for online degree programs.

TheBestSchools.org is a leading resource for prospective students seeking a college or university degree. Many schools in the United States reference our rankings including Auburn University, Boston University, Texas A&M University, Fordham University, and many more.

The Master of Arts in Christian Ministry is designed to equip individuals for competent leadership in specialized ministry fields. With many elective hours, students can personalize the MACM to their particular ministry passions and interests. Students have specialized in youth and family ministry, children’s ministry, education ministry, and many other fields. For more information about ACU’s MACM degree, follow this link.

Master of Arts in Global Service

by   |  05.31.14  |  ACU, Announcements, Contexual Education, Mission

MA web banner
 

The Mission Alive team is excited to announce a partnership between Abilene Christian University and Storyline Christian Community – a Dallas, Texas church planting in the Mission Alive community.

See original website here.

Storyline will serve as one of seven global “missional partner sites” for the Master of Arts in Global Service (MAGS) degree. The 48-hour MAGS degree is a cutting edge approach to education that combines online coursework, focused face-to-face learning within a cohort of peers, and mentoring in a particular ministry context.

 

Charles Kiser, Mission Alive Director of Training and Storyline Missionary, will mentor students as the Dallas MAGS Site Supervisor. MAGS students in Dallas will have many learning opportunities in mission and discipleship:

 

  • Experiencing the life of an extended family on mission (missional community) in a particular neighborhood or relational network
  • Equipping for the way of Jesus in a discipleship huddle
  • Identifying, befriending, and sharing faith with those who are searching for God
  • Leading a discipleship huddle for others
  • Seeing searchers take steps toward Jesus through the Alpha Course in missional community
  • Working for justice among the downtrodden in Dallas
  • Deepening prayer and spiritual discernment
  • Helping to start new missional communities
  • Participating in Mission Alive’s Mission Training for discipleship and mission
  • Receiving coaching and mentoring from practitioners in the trenches of mission

For more information, visit  www.acumags.org or call Charles Kiser at 214.471.5722.

 

July 1, 2014 is the registration deadline for the Fall 2014 cohort.