Ideas that Matter: The Black Experience in Biblical Interpretation

Date(s) - September 28, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

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Ideas That Matter is an online lecture series hosted by Regent College this fall with the purpose of cultivating theological engagement with contemporary issues that are particularly relevant at this cultural moment.

How does our cultural lens impact the way we read scripture? What can the contemporary church learn from Bible interpretation within Black communities? Please join us as Regent College and the Regent College Bookstore welcome Dr. Lisa Bowens and Dr. Esau McCaulley, provocative authors and speakers who are giving thought to these important questions.

Dr. Lisa Bowens is Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. She earned a BS (cum laude), MSBE, and MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and an MTS and ThM from Duke Divinity School. She received her PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary. Her current projects include working as a contributor and co-editor with Scot McKnight and Joseph Modica on Preaching Romans From Here (forthcoming), as co-writer with Amy Peeler on an article on New Testament, race, and gender for The New Testament in Color (forthcoming) and two commentaries, one on 2 Corinthians and one on 1-2 Thessalonians. Dr. Bowens’s research interests include Paul and apocalyptic literature, Pauline anthropology, Pauline epistemology, aspects of discipleship in the gospels, African American Pauline Hermeneutics, and New Testament exegesis and interpretation.

In her newest book, African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation, Dr. Bowens takes a historical, theological, and biblical approach to explore interpretations of Paul within African American communities over the past few centuries. She surveys a wealth of primary sources from the early 1700s to the mid-twentieth century, including sermons, conversion stories, slave petitions, and autobiographies of ex-slaves, many of which introduce readers to previously unknown names in the history of New Testament interpretation. Along with their hermeneutical value, these texts also provide fresh documentation of Black religious life through wide swaths of American history.

Dr. Esau McCaulley is assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, where his research and writing focuses on Pauline theology and the intersection of race, Christian identity, and the pursuit of justice. Dr. McCaulley is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. He is also the host of The Disrupters podcast. His publications include Sharing in the Son’s Inheritance and numerous articles in outlets such as Christianity TodayThe Witness: A Black Christian Collective, and The Washington Post.

Dr. McCaulley’s most recent publication is Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope, a personal and scholarly testament to the power and hope of Black biblical interpretation. At a time in which some within the African American community are questioning the place of the Christian faith in the struggle for justice, Dr. McCaulley argues that reading Scripture from the perspective of Black church tradition is invaluable for connecting with a rich faith history and addressing the urgent issues of our times. He advocates for a model of interpretation that involves an ongoing conversation between the collective Black experience and the Bible, in which the particular questions coming out of Black communities are given pride of place and the Bible is given space to respond by affirming, challenging, and, at times, reshaping Black concerns. Dr. McCaulley demonstrates this model with studies on how Scripture speaks to topics often overlooked by white interpreters, such as ethnicity, political protest, policing, and slavery.

This conversation will be hosted by Dr. Mariam Kovalishyn, Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies.

You can purchase African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation from the Regent College Bookstore here.

You can purchase Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope from the Regent College Bookstore here.

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