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Home arrow Lecture Series arrow April 1, 2006: Daniel Smith-Christopher

April 1, 2006: Daniel Smith-Christopher PDF Print E-mail
Daniel L. Smith-ChristopherTitle: "Jonah, Jesus, and Other Good Coyotes: The Biblical Call to Peacemaking" (Abstract)

Speaker:  Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, PhD (Bio)

Date: Saturday, April 1, 2006
Time: 5:00-6:45 p.m.
Location: 24769 Redlands Blvd., Ste. A
                Loma Linda, California 92354
Abstract: Violence and wars occur frequently in the Bible.  Often the violence is brutal and directed at "the nations" with which Israel is in conflict.  Less recognized is the fact that the Bible also gives voice to a subversive underground -- a minority of protagonists that glaringly violates established borders in the name of peace!

Accounts of Old Testament "border runners" give us a window into the role of peacemakers in God's plan. In the midst of angry words directed at Edom, there is the story of Jacob's reconciliation with Esau; in the midst of anger toward Moab, there is the story of Ruth.

The tension between violent nationalism and subversive peacemaking carries over into the New Testament.  In an environment where both oppressor and oppressed see only violent solutions, Jesus stands in the best tradition of Hebrew "border runners."  The young Rabbi from Nazareth, the most subversive "border runner" of them all, flagrantly violated national, ethnic and cultural borders in the name of God's love and peace.

Today, Jesus still calls us to "violate borders," to ignore the human separations that give rise to nationalisms, chauvinisms, and violence - the rejection of the "others" because they are not one of "us".  How will modern Disciples of Christ respond to his call to defy man-made borders in the name of peace?

About the speaker: Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, PhD,  is a Professor of Old Testament Studies and Director of Peace Studies at Loyola Marymount University.

Personal and Educational Background

     Born in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Christopher attended George Fox College (B.A.); Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, Indiana; M.Div.) and received his doctorate in Old Testament Studies at Oxford University in England, in 1987.  Dr. Christopher served for two years in volunteer peace work/research with the Quakers in Israel/Palestine from 1986 to 1988 (consulting with Israeli and Palestinian peace groups), and maintains an active interest in peace issues, particularly the Middle East.  He also serves as Director of Peace Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and maintains a practical and academic interest in Peace Studies.  He edited a series of scholarly essays, including his own essay on the subject of Nonviolence in Christianity, dealing with "Nonviolence in World Religions".  The book, Subverting Hatred (Orbis Press, 2000), is currently in a eighth printing, and has now been translated into Italian by EMI Press, Bologna.  He has taught at LMU since 1989.

Biblical Studies

     Dr. Christopher has published dozens of scholarly articles and reviews, and his 9 books and major works include his most recent book, The Old Testament: Our Invitation to Faith and Justice.  This is a High School textbook for Catholic Schools published in the fall of 2004 by Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN.   His most recent theological work is A Biblical Theology of Exile (Fortress Press, 2002), the final volume of the "Overtures to Biblical Theology" series, edited with a Forward by Walter Brueggemann.  His scholarly work also includes commentaries on the Biblical books of Daniel (for The New Interpreter's Bible: Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1996) and Ezra and Nehemiah (for The Oxford Bible Commentary, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2001).  His work, The Religion of the Landless (1989) was based on his work at Oxford.   In 1994, Sheffield University published his translation (from German) of The Citizen-Temple Community by the former Soviet (now Israeli) Biblical scholar, Prof. Joel Weinberg.   Dr. Christopher contributed a dozen entries for the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids: 2000).  At present, he is working on a new book on Biblical perspectives on Peace and Justice, and a new commentary on the prophet Micah.

Cultural Studies

     Dr. Christopher has particular interests in how cultural and ethnic backgrounds influence the reading and interpretation of Biblical texts.  He edited a volume of scholarly essays on this subject, Text and Experience: Toward a Cultural Exegesis of the Bible (Sheffield, 1995), and has conducted research based on field interviews in South Dakota with members of the Rosebud Lakota nation; the Cree in northern Manitoba; and Aboriginal Australians.   These interviews are the basis for his book, in process, on the subject of "cultural exegesis" of the Bible.  Dr. Christopher has also contributed lengthy entries on Native-Americans in North and South America for both the The Native American Encyclopedia, and has contributed articles to the The Latino Encyclopedia, and has also published articles on the contemporary Middle East.

Special Projects

     Dr. Christopher appears regularly on television as a consultant and scholarly commentator on documentaries broadcast by A&E, Discovery, the History Channel, and most recently, The National Geographic Channel and PBS.
     Dr. Christopher was honored as "Undergraduate Theology Teacher of the Year" by Fortress Press of Minneapolis, at recent meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature.
     Dr. Christopher was awarded a Lilly Endowment grant to team-teach a special seminar for University and College teachers.  With Prof. Mustansir Mir, a noted Quran scholar, Dr. Christopher coordinated the seminar and lectured with Dr. Mir on the topic: "Peace and Justice in the Bible and the Quran" in the summer of 2003.
     Also in the summer of 2003, Dr. Christopher was invited to deliver a paper for a World Council of Churches consultation on "Cultural Identity, National Identity, and the Unity of the Church" in Bangor, Wales (UK), and was asked to serve as editor of the assembled papers.   In the summer of 2004, he participated in a panel discussion at the Parliament of World Religions held in Barcelona, Spain.
     Dr. Christopher's cultural interests influence his teaching.  In 1995, he founded, raised funds, and hired a director for LMU's first "Gospel Choir".  He taught a `traveling' class where students visit 10 churches from different cultural backgrounds, exploring "Faith and Ethnicity in Los Angeles".  Dr. Christopher also developed a new course on "Reconciliation Across Cultures" for the American Cultures program at LMU in 1995.
     Dr. Christopher has recently been appointed by Cardinal Roger Mahony as a "Permanent Consultant" to the Theological Commission of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and lectures frequently for various offices of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
     Dr. Christopher lectures widely in the United States and abroad.  In the fall of 1995, he was "Scholar in Residence" in the Religion Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and in January, 1997, he was a featured Bible teacher for the Australian National Christian Youth Congress held in Tasmania.   He returned to Australia in the summer of 1998 for a series of lectures, conferences, and workshops with the Uniting Church in Australia in 6 cities.  In the fall of 2002, Dr. Christopher was Lecturer-in-Residence at the University of Auckland, New Zealand (St. John's Seminary), as part of his sabbatical leave in New Zealand, and was Visiting Professor of Biblical Studies at Bluffton College of Ohio in 2003-2004.
     Dr. Christopher lectures frequently in congresses and conferences of the Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and United Methodist Churches in Southern California, as well as various meetings of the Society of Friends (Quakers) across the USA.  He has spoken at the Religious Education Congresses of the Catholic Church in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and every year for the past 11 years, in Los Angeles.
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