Religion professor writes book on biblical theology

Monday, August 6, 2007

Seeking to fill a need in his field, Dr. Jim Mead, associate professor of religion at Northwestern College, has written a book that is the first overview of biblical theology in 30 years. Biblical Theology: Issues, Methods and Themes was published this summer by Westminster John Knox Press.

The genesis for his book began in 2001 when Mead was unable to find a current, comprehensive text for his Biblical Interpretation and Theology course. In 2004, after continuing his search and mulling over the idea of writing his own, Mead began work on the introductory textbook.

“There really was no comparable introduction to this field, certainly not one that was an approach to the whole Bible,” says Mead. “Scholars prefer not to treat the entire Bible because it takes so much expertise to understand a testament and related issues, and yet there’s a lot of interest right now in academia about the relationship between the Old and the New Testament. So I felt the time was right to try to come up with an introduction to the whole Bible that could be useful to scholars of either testament.”

Mead says his goal was to survey the field of biblical theology while at the same time making it manageable for beginning students in Christian colleges and seminaries. “Beyond that, I have a passion for relating the Bible and theology to the church, so I’m hoping its instrumental use will be to help future pastors and teachers see how relevant scholarly study of the Bible can be to ministerial use of the Bible.”

Mead describes biblical theology in his book as “attempting to study and understand what the Bible says about God and God’s relationship to creation, especially humans.” He says for those who believe the Bible is the word of God, biblical theology is crucial. “It’s so important for Christians to be able to articulate with integrity what they believe their Scriptures are saying from God. I’m biased, having been a preacher and now a teacher of the Bible, but I can’t think of any more important discipline than that.”

Reviewers of the 250-page book say Mead has succeeded in his effort to cover current and classic issues as well as represent many scholars’ viewpoints with fairness.

“Throughout the bewilderingly vast landscape of scholarship on two testaments, Mead proves himself a most perceptive analyst, a consummate teacher, and a trustworthy guide,” says Dr. Brent Strawn of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

“Mead’s work is comprehensive and accessible, one that many will find useful to get at the major concerns in understanding and formulating biblical theology,” says Dr. Patrick Miller, professor emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary. “While the primary purpose of the book is to review the history of the discipline and the issues that have evolved over time, Mead makes his own contribution to understanding the substance and character of a theology that is attentive to the whole of Scripture in the light of its critical study.”

The 2004 recipient of the Northwestern Teaching Excellence Award, Mead joined the faculty in 2000. He previously served as a Presbyterian pastor for 12 years. He earned a doctorate in biblical studies from Princeton Theological Seminary and Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees from Reformed Theological Seminary. His undergraduate work was completed at Georgetown University.

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