An Interview with Max Lee

MaxLeeTallMax Lee is associate professor of New Testament at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. Our upcoming issue of the Quarterly took early shape in Max’s course, Reading the Bible Interculturally. We talked with Max to explore further his academic and personal commitment to intercultural readings of Scripture.

Max, outside of being a professor and scholar, tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do in your free time?

What I want to do is reach the gym and make a heroic attempt to keep myself in shape, but alas, much of my day, evenings, and late nights are spent managing the tension between my vocation as a professor and my investment in my two teenage sons. I hope and pray that they will grow up to be godly men.

When I’m on top of my game, my sons and I all make it to gym and run the treadmill, pump iron, and cool down at Starbucks after we are done.

What do you love most about teaching?

There is a genuine joy in gleaning insight from Scripture and sharing this with others. I love sharing what I learn, and I love learning from those with whom I share. If the Lord uses what I teach to inspire, encourage, challenge, and transform my students, and they, in turn, share what they learn with others through their preaching and ministry, my joy, in the words of Apostle Paul, becomes complete.

When did you first come across the subject of intercultural biblical interpretation? What drew you to studying it further?

My first formal exposure was in 2002, through my participation in the Korean Biblical Colloquium which meets concurrently with the Society of Biblical Literature each year. At KBC, I engaged with scholars who shared different hermeneutical commitments than my own, but nevertheless challenged me to think about how the social and cultural location of the reader affected biblical interpretation. Continue Reading

Sneak Peek: CQ 73:2 | Reading the Bible Interculturally

When we read Scripture, we necessarily do so from a particular socio-cultural location. What difference would it make if we were to examine this location and its impact on how we read? What would it look like to attempt to read the text from outside one’s own cultural context? Is such a practice possible? Desirable?

The next issue of the Covenant Quarterly, due for publication Monday, August 24, explores the practice and possibilities of intercultural biblical interpretation. This inaugural online issue includes contributions from Max Lee, Nilwona Nowlin, Erik Borggren, and Bruce L. Fields. Here’s a sneak peek.

Max Lee

Max Lee

Max Lee is associate professor of New Testament at North Park Theological Seminary. He blogs at Paul Redux.

“What better way can we love our neighbor than to take steps to learn about the cultural histories that shaped their identities and somehow, in the process, empathize with their struggles and make them our own? What better way can we love ourselves by letting our neighbors help expose our invisible presuppositions and prejudices? And what better way can we love God than when we, as a united community of diverse believers, learn from one another’s readings of Scripture so that we can obey its teaching with greater faithfulness?”

From “Reading the Bible Interculturally: An Invitation to the Evangelical Covenant Church and Evangelical Christianity

Nilwona Nowlin

Nilwona Nowlin

Nilwona Nowlin is the administrative specialist for governance for the Evangelical Covenant Church. A graduate of North Park Theological Seminary (MA, MNA), Nilwona is an active member of the Christian Community Development Association and serves on the launch team of Kingdom Covenant Church, Chicago.

“The story of Joseph offers resources for African and African American reconciliation. Joseph’s being sold into slavery by his brothers finds a parallel in the history of African Americans. Despite the years of pain, shame, and marginalization his brothers caused, Joseph was able to forgive them and be reconciled to them. Is a similar reconciliation possible between African Americans and Africans today? My paper pursues this question, drawing from the Joseph narrative…so that, as with Joseph, God may continue to take what was meant for evil and turn it into something good.”

From “To Save Many Lives: Exploring Reconciliation between Africans and African Americans through the Selling of Joseph

Erik Borggren

Erik Borggren

Erik Borggren is assistant pastor of Lincoln Square Presbyterian Church, Chicago, and spiritual formation coordinator for North Park University’s University Ministries. The focus of his work in discipleship and spiritual formation is the intersection of imagery, art, literature, liturgy, and social justice.

“This call to faithful submission and hope-filled resistance, especially in light of unjust powers, can be communicated in a way that is oppressive, even destructive. However, acknowledging that Christ is the true King…enables the church to reimagine submission, resistance, and the church’s cruciform identity through the lens of Japanese gaman, ‘to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.’ Far from passive silence, a call to Christian gaman is a call for the church through worship to ‘discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (Romans 12:2).”

From “Romans 13:1-7 and Philippians 3:17-21: Paul’s Call to True Citizenship and to Gaman

Bruce L. Fields

Bruce L. Fields

Bruce L. Fields is associate professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he chairs the biblical and systematic theology department. Dr. Fields’ Eaton-Jones lecture, delivered February 16, 2015 at North Park University, appears in this issue, revised for publication.

“The fulfillment of the hermeneutical task requires serious study of the biblical text to determine its message. The task, however, is not complete until there is the careful communication of the message to an audience in its situatedness. If the analysis of one or the other is awry, the hermeneutical task is impeded. The fulfillment of both requires multiple participants. If the Black church and its hermeneutic are not given voice in the analysis of both the biblical text and the sociocultural environment, the hermeneutical task is dramatically hindered. It is hindered not only for the Black church but for the entire church.”

From “The One and the Many: What Can Be Learned from a Black Hermeneutic