Sunday, June 15, 2008

Reflections on Father's Day: A Conversation with Bill and Bob Mounce

Here is part II of my interview with the Mounces.

1) Bob, how important was it for you to have your son follow you into ministry, speaking specifically of the academic route?

My desire for Bill had little or nothing to do with him “following me into the ministry.” It pleases me that God has directed him into this area of his great redemptive plan because his energies will benefit countless young students of the Word. Obviously, sharing the same profession brings great camaraderie and personal pleasure but had God led him into any other field I would want only that he performed it to the very best of his ability.

2) Bill, what was it about your dad that you wanted to emulate growing up?

Dad was always there. Dad isn’t the gushy kind of person to always play games and talk about feelings (slight stereotyping going on here), but he was always there, always supportive. I always knew dad loved me, and he was safety to me. Ever since I was two years old I went with Dad wherever he was preaching, even in Scotland. I just enjoyed being with him.

3)You both have seen your publishing and translation work intersect at various junctures. What is it like to team up on projects and do you find yourselves learning from the other?

Bill: Our work on the ESV actually was our first time to really work together. It was always fun because Dad was always gracious. If we differed on a passage, Dad always made it clear that it was my choice and it was okay to disagree. But I wanted our names together on a book, so the interlinear project fell right into my wishes. Dad has always been strong on the dynamic side of the translation debate, but he had to control himself a bit if his translation was going to work for an interlinear. I can’t remember how many times Dad said, “Now Bill, I have really come to the conclusion that you must translate meaning, not words.” “Yes Dad,” I would always respond.I should probably add that one of the other motivating factors in doing the project is that mom and dad are giving away all their royalties from the interlinears to the Jesus film project. In fact, now that they are in their late 80’s, Dad kept pushing me to finish my part of the work so that they would still be around to give the money away. I assured them that their half would always be given away.

Bob: Teaming up with Bill on several projects these past half dozen years has brought more personal satisfaction than anything I have ever done professionally. How could it be anything else? He took the NT Chairmanship of the ESV only on the basis that “his Dad could work on it with him.” I recall leaving a meeting with the publishers at some convention and Bill asking me if I understood what the decision made there meant -- the translation process would begin with us doing the first draft of the entire NT with it going for review to scholars who had each recently written a critical commentary on the specific book and then on to the translation committee as a whole. No, I didn’t realize what that would actually entail but four years later at the completion of the project I sure knew! A father couldn’t help but enjoy that sort of professional interchange with his son.

4) Tell me about the idea that came about for your blog

Bill: It was mostly frustration in teaching Greek. Learning the language can be so hard, and for most of the first year there is very little encouragement. But then I realized that blog-type entries that talk about translation issues could really be an encouragement, helping the students see why they are working so hard. I hope that over a longer period of time I can build up enough examples, some exegetical some devotional, that other teachers can use them as well to encourage their students.

5) Bill, could you share your thoughts about your father on Father's Day?

At times it feels a little unfair to have the family I have. I have had so many advantages because both my mom and dad believed in me, made opportunities available, and trusted me. They always demanded more of me, but always with kindness and gentleness. I remember once when I was struggling to finish the commentary on the Pastorals, I called Dad to moan about my overcommitment. Dad said in very typical fashion, “Bill, it will take just as long to do it today as it will tomorrow. So finish it now.” This is my Dad, and I love him.

I want to wish all fathers a happy Father's Day, especially my own, thanks, Dad!

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