Interview With Ray Van Neste Of Union University -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 07:2 (Winter 2016)
Article: Interview With Ray Van Neste Of Union University
Author: Anonymous

Interview With Ray Van Neste
Of Union University

How Did You Become Interested In Studying The Pastoral Epistles?

I realize that the Pastoral Epistles have played a significant part in my life from early days even when I did not think of them in any specific way distinct from the rest of the Bible. Bible drill was a big part of life for me growing up and the theme verse was always 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV). My Sunday School teachers and Bible drill instructors, particularly my grandmother, stressed the truth of this verse on a regular basis in addition to having me memorize it.

My decision to focus on the Pastorals in academic work came from sermon preparation as I pastored a church during seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I was struggling with the decision of what to focus on for an MA thesis. I just knew I wanted to study the Bible, and I had a wide range of interests. I investigated a few ideas and discovered those questions had been well addressed. I happened to be preaching through Titus at the time. I don’t remember at all why I had chosen to preach through Titus, but as I studied I began to see connections between paragraphs in the letter which were not addressed in any of the commentaries I had. Tracing the flow of thought throughout a letter was something that really caught my attention in seminary, so I was captivated. I loved seeing how the text fit together and how the whole can help you interpret the parts. This shaped my sermon that week, and the idea began to form of pursuing this further for my thesis.

That connection suggested to me that the structure of the letter to Titus made clear the occasion of the letter—to address false teachers who were afflicting the church. This became the topic of my MA thesis which was a great learning exercise under the supervision of Grant Osborne. I was already interested in doing doctoral work, and I began to be intrigued by connections within Titus and expanding this to include 1–2 Timothy. Grant Osborne encouraged me to consider pursuing a PhD at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland with Professor Howard Marshall. The prospect of studying with such a prominent professor with a strong commitment to Christ, the Scriptures, and the church was thrilling. However, his work had focused on Luke and Acts primarily, so I wondered if it would even be possible to pursue my interest in the Pastorals with him. Then I discovered that he was in the midst of writing a commentary on the Pastorals for T&T Clark’s International Critical Commentary series.

This all made the idea of pursuing doctoral work in the Pastorals compel...

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