NTS welcomed renowned Old Testament Scholar Dr. Terence Fretheim as the Benner/Earle Visiting Scholar during the Seminary’s 2-week intensive modules this fall. Professor Fretheim, the Elva B. Lowell Professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, co-taught an exegetical course on the book of Genesis with NTS Professor of Old Testament Dr. Joseph Coleson.
Professor Fretheim has written widely on Pentateuchal subjects, especially on Creation themes; his 2005 volume from Abingdon, God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation, has had a profound impact on Christian thinking about God’s purposes for and intimate involvement with His creation. Professor Fretheim’s most recent book-length publication is Creation Untamed: The Bible, God, and Natural Disasters. This was the first volume in Baker’s Theological Explorations for the Church, based on his 2008 Earle Lectures at NTS.
It was natural, then, that Professor Fretheim’s focus during the Genesis course was chapters 1-11. Important discussions centered around issues like God’s evident delight in being in the midst of his creation: God “is prone to incarnation” (in ways that may be said to hint at “the Incarnation” to come); the descriptive nature of God’s statements to the serpent, to the woman, and to the man in 3:14-19; and God’s emphatic decision “never to do that (the Flood) again.”
“Professor Fretheim’s obvious passion for and immersion in the biblical creation texts evoked a high level of student attention, energy, and interaction from day one,” share NTS Professor of Old Testament, Dr. Joseph Coleson. “There is no doubt that the Benner/Earle Visiting Scholar program is off to an impressive start.”
Another of Professor Fretheim’s research and theological interests was the focus of an evening lecture, open to the public, entitled, “The God of the Old Testament and Issues of Violence.” A major focus of the lecture was the issue of how God’s intentional self-limitation in God’s choice of action and reaction in creation, for the sake of authentic relationship, is manifested in God’s dealing with violence, especially with human violence. Aspects of this theological conundrum include God’s usual choice to work with and through agents, both human and non-human, rather than by unmediated action; God’s “acknowledgment of responsibility” for the excesses of some of God’s agents; and God’s ensuing judgment of those same agents who act beyond God’s instruction and intentions. For Wesleyans, who take seriously the Scripturally declared depth of God’s commitment to interact with all creation in authentic relationship, the lecture and the course together represented a stimulating beginning to the new academic year at NTS.
“Through the generosity of several donors, and in honor of Dr. Ralph Earle and Dr. Richard Benner, NTS is able to expose our students to the some of the world’s finest biblical scholars via the Earle/Benner Visiting Scholars Program; and Dr. Fretheim certainly meets this criteria,” said NTS President Dr. David Busic. “One of the most respected Old Testament scholars in the world today, Dr. Fretheim’s contribution to biblical studies will impact how we read the Bible for years to come. It was our privilege to have him on our campus.”
You may listen to the audio of Dr.Fretheim’s public lecture on the NTS website at nts.edu/chapel-audio. For more information about upcoming lectures and continuing education events, log on to nts.edu/upcoming-events.