Emory Report
September 20, 2004
Volume 57, Number 05


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September 20, 2004
Bible scholar Meeks to visit as 2004 McDonald Professor

By Elaine Justice & Michael Terrazas

Well-known biblical scholar Wayne Meeks of Yale University will deliver a series of lectures on “Christ is the Question” as the 2004 McDonald Distinguished Visiting Professor for the Study of Jesus and Culture.

“In the age of bumper sticker religion, Jesus is all too familiar, yet still he comes to us, as Albert Schweitzer said, as one unknown,” said Meeks, Woolsey Professor of Biblical Studies Emeritus at Yale. He will explore some of the reasons both for the mystery of Jesus and the mystification about him by examining ways people try to understand the past and use it for their own purposes.

Meeks’ lectures will encompass such controversial contemporary Christian issues as the quest for the historical Jesus, conflicting biblical interpretations, Christian evangelism and the identity of the early Christian movement.

“Wayne Meeks is one of the most internationally recognized New Testament scholars; he has pioneered an approach to the study of Christian origins using a more refined social analysis. He’s also one of the world’s experts on the Gospel of John,” said Luke Johnson, Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, who administers the McDonald visiting professorship. Meeks is a former professor of Johnson’s at Yale.

“What the McDonald chair wants to do,” Johnson continued, “is take people who are distinguished professors but may not have explicitly worked on the figure of Jesus, and invite them to do that.”

In addition to delivering a series of five lectures between Sept. 23 and Oct. 7, Meeks also will meet with Candler School of Theology students in a variety of contexts and deliver a paper in a doctoral New Testament colloquium and have students respond.

The lecture schedule is:

• “Does Anybody Know My Jesus? Between Dogma and Romance.” Thursday, Sept. 23, 7:30 p.m. 208 White Hall. Reception to follow.
• “Memory and Invention: The Making of Jesus Christ.” Wednesday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m. Cannon Chapel.
• “A Story to Think With: From Crucifixion to Metaphor.” Thursday, Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m. 208 White Hall.
• “The Bible Teaches ... Through a Glass, Darkly.” Wednesday, Oct. 6, 1 p.m. Cannon Chapel.
• “Is Jesus the Last Word?” Thursday, Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m.

208 White Hall. Reception and book signing to follow.

Among Meeks’ many major publications are a volume of essays, The Social World of the First Christians: Essays in Honor of Wayne A. Meeks and the highly acclaimed The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul, which received the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence.

Established with funds from the McDonald Agape Foundation (a private foundation established by longtime Emory trustee Alonzo McDonald) the McDonald Chair is devoted to the person and teachings of Jesus and their cultural impact. The focus of the chair is the appreciation of the ways in which Jesus has affected culture, and the ways in which culture has helped shape the figure of Jesus.

Interdisciplinary in character, the professorship allows scholars to approach the subject from a variety of perspectives. The constants are its focus on the figure of Jesus and its involvement both with the faculty and students of Emory and the Atlanta community through public lectures and performances. Johnson said, beginning this year, the chair will have a permanent home in Candler.

The McDonald Lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, call 404-727-6322 or go to www.candler.emory.edu/ABOUT/events.html.