When Nothing is Impossible: New Book Focuses on Women of the Bible

elainephillipspicture.jpg.opt376x562o0,0s376x562For those who have ever thought something was impossible, Elaine Phillips, a professor of biblical studies at Gordon, has written a new book that suggests otherwise.

With God, Nothing is Impossible is Phillips’s first book for lay audiences, a devotional based on the stories of women in the Bible, both well known and less prominent. The Gordon Bookstore will host a book signing with the author on Thursday, April 3 at 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. The book will be for sale at a reduced price.

“Biblical characters, with all their wounds and scars, are living illustrations that there is a bigger and majestic tapestry,” Phillips said. “I wanted to write about their stories and the themes we see in each: how each points to God’s goodness and unfailing love.”

In addition to her new book, Phillips recently completed a commentary on Esther, which is included in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary and was edited by Tremper Longman III and David Garland. She regularly takes students to Jerusalem University College in Israel, where she serves as adjunct faculty for three-week summer study programs in historical geography. Phillips‘s other areas of interest and scholarly writing include the books of Exodus and Esther, biblical wisdom literature, and rabbinic Midrash. Her new book draws on her historic expertise and reminds readers of the fruit of faithful living. While mostly oriented for woman, it is accessible to anyone with a desire to grow in biblical faith.

One reviewer said, “Reading about each biblical woman, not just from the perspective of Scripture, but also with relevant historical and cultural context, allowed me to see each one not just as a character in a story, but as a real, flesh-and-blood individual in history.”

The Global Language(s) of Scholarship

Academia today often requires dialogue across cultures, especially in addressing global issues, old and new. These faculty from very different disciplines have been busy with such work:

Wilson_Marv_2008_11_19_02_55_441_2009_09_16_05_18_15Marv Wilson, professor of biblical studies, recently delivered the Ninth Annual Edwin M. Yamauchi lectureship at Miami University, Oxford, OH, March 7-9. His lecture combined chapters of a new book he’s written, scheduled for publication in May. Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage: A Christian Theology of Roots and Renewal (Eerdmans) is a sequel, of sorts, to Our Father Abraham, but more theological.  The Department of History at Miami University sponsored the event in co-operation with other organizations within the Oxford community. In addition to his main lecture on “Abraham: Historical Figure of Continuity, Discontinuity and Eschatological Hope,” Wilson also spoke to faculty and students at four other scheduled events in Oxford during the weekend.

Melkonian-Hoover-_Ruth_2007_11_02_09_00_44Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, associate professor of political science and international affairs, addressed the Venezuelan crisis recently in her column for the Center for Public Justice. At the end of May, she’ll be attending the Christians in Political Science conference at Azusa along with Michael Jacobs, assistant professor of political science, and two Gordon students, Ian Isaac and Ilya Timchenko,who recently returned from Ukraine over spring break. Melkonian-Hoover will present a workshop entitled, Jacobs,_Michael_2013_07_12_10_06_29“Religion and Immigration Attitudes,” while Jacobs will explore, “Just Business or Just Politics: Christian Approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility.”

Perez-Serrano_Pilar_2011_12_07_09_39_50Associate professor of Spanish, Pilar Pérez Serrano, will be traveling to Harrisburg, PA, in early April to present the following paper at the North East Modern Language Association conference  entitled, “Mediocridad y fantasía: jugando a ser alguien en tres obras de Juan Pablo Heras.”  This spring her new book,  “La rebelión de Los esclavos: tragedia y posibilidad en el teatro de Raúl Hernández Garrido” (Madrid: Fundamentos) will be released, and she’s recently published two two book reviews for the  Spain’s Association of Theatre Author’s journal, El Kiosco Teatral: Leer Teatro.

Seeing Christ Through the Eyes of Others

Hunt_Steve_2008_11_19_02_49_281_2009_09_16_05_12_42Understanding the narrative of John’s Gospel  just became more illuminating, thanks in part to the editorial scholarship of Steven Hunt, professor of biblical studies. Hunt helped bring to light a series of studies that explore how both major and minor characters in John teach us about Christ as the central figure.

book coverEdited by Hunt, D. Francois Tolmie and Ruben Zimmermann, Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel: Narrative Approaches to Seventy Figures in John (Mohr Kurier Publishers) is a ground breaking resource for pastors and lay leaders a like. Here’s how the publishers describe the resource:

“This volume represents the most thorough study of characters and characterization in the Fourth Gospel heretofore published. Building on several different narrative approaches, the contributors assembled here offer sixty-two essays related to characters and group characters in John. Among these are detailed studies presenting fresh perspectives on characters who play a major role in the Gospel (e. g., Peter, Mary Magdalene, etc.), as well as original studies of characters who have never been the focus of narrative analysis before, characters often glossed over in commentaries as insignificant (e. g., the boy with the loaves and fish, the parents of the man born blind, etc.). Clearly, characters in John stand in the shadow of the protagonist – Jesus. In this volume, however, they step fully into the light. Thus illuminated, it becomes clear how complex and nuanced many of them are.”

Memories, Words and A Psychology of Living

Does everyone in the world return to signifiant memories in their lives? Does finding just the right word in a conversation depend on a person’s context?

Two members of Gordon’s psychology department explore such questions in  their recent scholarship. Jonathan Gerber, associate professor (who’s also begun blogging on such issues), addresses the transcendent nature of nostalgia for the scholarly journal, Emotion, in an article published this spring. Bert Hodges, professor of psychology, has written “Righting language: The view from ecological psychology,” which was published this month in Language Sciences. Here’s how they described their work:

IMG_0002Gerber: “The study was a large cross-cultural study of nostalgia involving 18 countries across five continents. I collected the Australian data. The study argues that nostalgia is a pan-cultural emotion that is experienced with two major features in nearly every culture: 1.) It involves fond, social, self-relevant memories; 2.) It is more pleasant than unpleasant. Why is this important? Because it’s worth knowing that people all over the world look back to better times, that we all have enjoyed the social things in our past, and that looking back on these memories makes us more happy than it makes us sad. This should inspire us to live more connected lives now, to create the happy, social memories that we will enjoy looking back on.”

image002Hodges: “Scientific models of language have tended to focus on forms deprived of their ecological context: Speaking and listening have been viewed as disembodied and unaddressed. An ecological approach works to return language to its rightful place, as a socially embedded, morally accountable set of activities that are fundamentally dialogical. Language is viewed as a distributed set of meaning-seeking activities that are primarily physical and pragmatic, the function of which is to realize values, including caring for others and self, and the places they inhabit. Psychologically, language is focused in dialogical arrays, which can function as distributed cognitive systems for perceiving, acting, and reasoning. This more distributed, embodied view of linguistic activity draws attention to its systematic, multi-scalar complexity; to its ability to tie its participants to a place, a history, and a way of life; to the frustration and responsibility entailed in speaking and listening; and to the possibility that it is a form of direct acting and perceiving that extends human capabilities by orders of magnitude.”