Here is part II of my interview with Darian Lockett, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Biola University.
1. What further work would you like to see explored in both James and Jude?
I can think of several areas I would like to continue exploring in both of these letters, but something that I am immediately interested in is how James and Jude, in my mind serving as the ‘introduction’ and ‘conclusion’ of the Catholic Epistles, function with in the CE corpus and, further, how that CE corpus functions within the larger NT canon. The thematic and theological coherence within the CE has been a neglected question within the atmosphere of historical-critical concerns, yet it seems the time is at hand when such a line of inquiry may find room at the table.
There has been some very interesting work by Rob Wall and David Nienhuis on this very question, but many of their conclusions I have a hard time accepting (namely, that James was a mid-second century forgery intentionally crafted to introduce the CE and balance a misunderstanding of Paul). Where the ‘canonical approach’ (I am thinking of Childs here) has been applied corpora, very little has been done in the CE. I hope to work on something in this area in the near future.
2. What are some of your current/future research/writing projects?
Beyond the long-term project noted above, I am hoping to write a university-level introduction to the CE and a colleague of mine and I are working on a book (tentatively entitled, Types of Biblical Theology) which surveys the various ways recent scholarship uses biblical theology—either relying more on history or theology as a starting point.
3. Shifting gears a bit, tell us about some of your ministerial experiences.
As I already mentioned, my wife and I served for a short time doing mission work in Mexico and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, throughout the years of academic preparation I am grateful that I was given several opportunities to serve local congregations by filling the pulpit on a regular basis. This was especially important for me while I was studying in St. Andrews.
While inhaling the rarified air of the ivory tower I had the privilege of serving two Scottish Baptist churches located in two small fishing villages in the East Neuk of Fife (you will have to look carefully at a map of Scotland to find this region!). Once a month for almost three years I preached morning and evening services and fellowshipped with some of the most gracious of God’s people. I must say, these times marked me so that now I find myself continually challenged to think about how what I do in the university not only affects the church, but is actually for the church. While composing rigorous arguments designed for the scholarly community in my dissertation, I was communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which needs no crafty argument but is supplied by the power of God, to common people of God in those fishing villages.
As we moved on to New Jersey and eventually to Southern California I am grateful that this experience was repeated again and again as I have been able to preach/teach in and for the church as the Father gives opportunity.
4. Having two feet firmly planted in both world’s (i.e. the academy and the church), explain your concern to bridge the chasm between the two institutions. More particularly, how can one inform and encourage the other?
Building on what I have said above, I cannot understand my calling as a university professor apart from my calling as a minister/teacher of Scripture for the church. The “chasm” between university and church begins with the unraveling of the very notion of a uni-versity. My understanding of a university is that all of the areas human learning can (and must) be linked together in a coherent picture of what reality really looks like. In this conception of human learning subjects like English and Engineering, Music and Mathematics, Business and Biology are all related to each other. And their relation is as the spokes of a wagon wheel are related to the center hub—English, Engineering, Music, Mathematics, Business, and Biology are all spokes of human knowledge related to their center-point of Christ Jesus, the creator of all. The uni- in the university is Christ—for “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom 11:36)…” "for by him all things were created … all things have been through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:16-17). There is a rich tradition of mutual stimulation and nurture between the church and the university, a tradition which must be recovered.
5. Finally, what advice would you have for anyone considering doing a PhD in New Testament studies?
For either undergraduates or M.Div. students thinking about advanced study I would press them to see if working toward a Ph.D. is actually what they sense the Lord calling them to or not. I think too often students see the life of an academic (or what they think is the life of an academic) and romanticize the role. There were many dark nights in Scotland that only a sense of the Father’s call sustained me through the hard work and sacrifice such a season demanded of me. With a church in need of skilled leaders and teachers I would hope that some with a desire for rigorous study would catch the vision to serve the kingdom as scholar-pastors.
Darian, thanks for your thoughts and your time!