Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Gordon Zerbe

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Gordon Zerbe

Dr. Gordon Zerbe, Professor of New Testament, has taught at CMU and CMBC (one of CMU's founding colleges) since 1990.

What did you teach this past semester that you were most excited about?

This year I taught Romans, which I have not done for quite some time. Working through this classic of the Christian Bible with students from a variety of backgrounds, including Anglican, Baptist, Mennonite, and more, was a lot of fun. In the course, we wrestle with how to read Romans, and how to make sense of it in ministry and for life today. It's just been very exhilarating.

What are you researching and writing?

I'm now trying to come up with an idea for my next project, and my sense is that it will be an exploration of Paul's writings through the lens of migration studies. Jesus and Paul, the two big figures of the New Testament, both come out of migrant experiences. Many people in migrant experiences do unusual and unpredictable things because their worlds have been shaken up, so they tend to be quite entrepreneurial in various ways as they're either in survival mode or just making sense of cultural, travelling kinds of issues. I'm not interested so much in the political side of migration, but more the psychological, social, cultural dimension of migration studies as potentially a new window at looking at biblical texts.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I just read The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt, a scholar at Harvard University. It tells the story of a monk who discovers the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic poem, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius. The monk ordered that the poem be copied, and it went on to reintroduce important ideas that fueled the Renaissance and sparked the modern age. Lucretius was an evangelist for Epicurus, the Greek philosopher of atomism, which was one of the philosophies that emerged in the time of Paul. The book deals with a combination of the first century, the middle ages, and a number of other things I'm interested in.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

I'm part of a dialogue between the Anglican Church of Canada and Mennonite Church Canada. We had our first meeting this past February in Waterloo, ON. It's a very exciting thing for me because in the past, through some of my overseas work with Mennonite Central Committee, I have learned a lot from those who aren't in my own tradition. It's caused me to reflect on my own commitments and baggage in a way that seeks to work it out. So, being in formal conversation in this way is very interesting and very rewarding for me.

What saying or motto inspires you?

I've recently been fond of quoting, when I have the chance, a phrase from 1 Corinthians: "What do you have that you did not receive as a gift?" This consciousness that all of life comes as pure gift is one of these statements or sayings that has multiple applications and relevance.

Printed from: media.cmu.ca/faculty-in-their-own-words-dr-gordon-zerbe