Interview With Professor Grant Macaskill Of Aberdeen University -- By: Ray Van Neste
STR 7:1 (Summer 2016) p. 109
Interview With Professor Grant Macaskill Of Aberdeen University
Professor Grant Macaskill recently came to Aberdeen University to fill the Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis, the chair which was first held by Howard Marshall. I had the privilege of meeting Grant at the service of thanksgiving for the life of Howard Marshall and was greatly encouraged. So, I jumped at the opportunity to interview him and introduce him to our readers.
So, Tell Us About Your Academic Journey. What Led To Your Interest In Pursuing Academic Biblical Studies As A Vocation? When Did You Know This Was What You Wanted To Do? Where Did You Receive Your Degrees?
I never really intended to become an academic. I think my story is really one of God’s providence working to place me where he wanted me to be, both through and in spite of my own bad decisions. When I first started university, it was with a view to becoming a veterinarian; I came from a rural background (specifically, a crofting one) and was more interested in working with animals than with people. So, when I was 17, I began my studies at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Glasgow University. But I knew pretty soon that it wasn’t for me, and by my second year I was spending more time reading theology than studying histology. I decided (with all the arrogance of a 19 year old) that I was called to the ministry, shifted over to complete a degree in General Science, in order to finish more quickly, and began the process of applying to become a candidate for the ministry in my church. I was accepted for this and started my training at the Free Church College in Edinburgh (the institution now known as Edinburgh Theological Seminary) in 1995. With hindsight, I realize that I was probably attracted to the ministry for the wrong reasons and that what I told myself was “God’s leading” was actually just my own interests and desires. But God was undoubtedly at work in and through it all, for that process led me into a course where I was rigorously schooled in the biblical languages and robustly trained in the classical doctrines of systematic theology, especially as these were developed in the Reformed tradition.
Towards the end of the course, I began to recognize that I was not a good fit for the ministry. Various things prompted the conclusion, but probably the key was a period of time when I realized that my walk with God was not what it should be and that my moral life was quite unhealthy. In the first instance, it prompted me to re-evaluate myself with a new measure of honesty, including my sense of call to the ministry, but it also kick-started a longer
STR 7:1 (Summer 2016) p. 110
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