Education and career
I am the Dorothy and B. H. Peace, Jr. Associate Professor of Religion at Furman University, where I have taught for 15 years. A South Carolina native and Furman alumnus, I earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary. My advisor at PTS was Patrick D. Miller, and through him I came to love biblical languages and literature, in particular the subtle interaction of historical and theological aspects of Israel's dynamic understanding of their God.
I was fortunate enough to return to my alma mater to teach in 2000, and I have enjoyed now several generations of Furman students who continually challenge, inspire, and teach me in our courses together. I teach introductory courses in "The Bible and Ultimate Meaning" and the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, and upper level courses on the Torah and Prophets. I have taught Freshman Seminars on the works of Neil Gaiman and on Wisdom Literature, and Humanities courses on "Ideas of Justice and Righteousness" and on "Toleration and Persecution in the Modern West."
This fall I will teach a Senior Seminar on "The Modern Bible," which looks at the history of biblical scholarship, interpretation, and translation since the Enlightenment.
My complete CV is available at academia.edu, along with several presentations and publications.
My dissertation focused on a literary-critical and ritual-critical reading of Leviticus, and it was published in revised form as Ritual Words and Narrative Worlds in the Book of Leviticus by T&T Clark International in 2009. My goal in the study of Leviticus has been to bring the insights of Ritual Studies to bear upon the text of the book as a literary work. Whereas most recent study of Leviticus has taken the form of source-critical dissection or debate about its historical context, I have argued that the book should be interpreted as a whole, with careful attention to the generic interactions between ritual and narrative within its coherent structure. This approach highlights the ambiguities and fractures within the ritual world itself, which challenges theological readings that oversimplify the biblical concepts of sin and sacrifice.
Recently, I co-edited a collection of scholarly essays on Leviticus from a strong group of international scholars, and wrote the introductory essay surveying the current state of scholarship on the text of Leviticus. This book is titled Text, Time, and Temple: Literary, Historical and Ritual Studies in Leviticus, and was published by Sheffield Phoenix this year.
The other book that appeared in print this year was an introductory study of the prophets titled, God’s Servants, The Prophets, from Smyth & Helwys Publishers. This book focuses on the prophetic books associated with the pre-exilic period, but functions nicely as an introduction to the prophetic literature, especially if supplemented with the companion volume in the series, The Exile and Beyond by Wayne Ballard.
Over the next few years, I hope to complete three other projects. One is related to my upcoming sabbatical, a monograph that brings contemporary Translation Theory to bear on the theory and practice of Bible translation in English. Flowing out of this technical work, I plan to write an accessible introduction to translation issues in the Bible that focuses on key "problem" passages. Finally, I have a contract to write a new volume on Numbers for the Word Biblical Commentary series from Zondervan.
My wife Jennifer and I have two boys, Joseph and Nolan, and we are members at First Presbyterian Church in Greer, SC, where I am an ordained elder. We enjoy hiking and reading, and spending time with our extended family in the area.
In addition to my academic work, I love reading science fiction, historical fiction, and alt-history. My favorite authors are Neil Gaiman, Patrick O'Brian, Phillip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson, and Stephen King. I also love diving deep into new computer problems, whether it's typesetting my dissertation in LaTeX, exploring new pedagogical tools and electronic Bible software, or hacking the CSS of this website.