Jarvis Williams, four-time alumnus, joins seminary faculty

Communications Staff — July 12, 2013

Jarvis J. Williams, an author, speaker and four-time alumnus of Southern Seminary, joined the seminary’s full-time faculty this summer and immediately began his new teaching duties as associate professor of New Testament interpretation.

“Jarvis Williams is a wonderful young scholar and we’re thrilled to have him join the faculty,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. “He is nearly unprecedented in terms of a member of the Southern Seminary faculty: there probably isn’t a human being on the planet who well represents a Southern Seminary theological education like Jarvis Williams. He’s home, teaching where he needs to be. We’re very glad to have him.”

Williams, 35, holds four degrees from Southern Seminary: a bachelor’s degree from Boyce College (2000), a master of divinity (2003), master of theology (2004) and doctor of philosophy (2007).

Frequently a speaker at churches and conferences around the country, Williams was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, Minn., in 2012 and, most recently, the featured speaker at Bethlehem Baptist Church’s annual racial harmony weekend in Minneapolis, where he taught pastors and church leaders in the inner city about the exegetical and theological foundations underneath Paul’s understanding of racial reconciliation. He is currently the interim pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Danville, Ky.

Williams is the author of three books: Maccabean Martyr Traditions in Paul’s Theology of Atonement: Did Martyr Theology Shape Paul’s Conception of Jesus’s Death? (Wipf and Stock, 2010), One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology (Broadman and Holman Academic Press, 2010) and For Whom Did Christ Die? The Extent of the Atonement in Paul’s Theology, (Paternoster, 2012). Additionally, he has authored several scholarly articles about penal substitution in Paul’s soteriology in Romans.

Gregory A. Wills, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, said he expects seminary students will learn from and enjoy Williams in the classroom.

“Students will appreciate Dr. Williams’s utter confidence in the truth and power of the scriptures,” he said. “They will benefit from his passion for the Bible, for the gospel, and for the church. He is a gifted teacher, an accomplished scholar, and a tested man of God. I am thrilled that our students will have the opportunity to take his courses and get to know him.”

Williams expressed his gratitude to God for bringing him to this new teaching post.

“My family and I consider it a great honor, a tremendous joy and a gracious gift from God to be given the opportunity to be part of the faculty at Southern,” he said. “We absolutely love this institution, and we strongly believe in its mission and commitment to train women and men for the gospel ministry of Jesus Christ and to spread a passion for his glory and for the truth of the Bible throughout the world by means of evangelism, discipleship and scholarship.”

Williams noted particularly his thankfulness and pride as an African-American in joining the seminary’s faculty. He referenced growing up in a post-segregation, all-white church in a part of Eastern Kentucky that “was and is extremely racist.” According to Williams, he was the first African-American member of his home church — the church that licensed and ordained him into the ministry and even helped pay for his theological education.

“As we all know, there was a time when people of color could not study at Southern,” Williams said. “Special providences of God allowed me to complete four degrees at this great institution from 1999-2007, and now to begin serving on faculty of the flagship Southern Baptist seminary,” he said, noting that Southern was the first SBC seminary to confer a degree to an African-American, Garland K. Offutt in 1944, and to hire the first African-American faculty member, T. Vaughn Walker, in 1986.

Williams said it was especially meaningful to be named to the Southern post soon after the Southern Baptist Convention elected its first African-American president, Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La. Elected in 2012, Luter is currently serving his second and final term as SBC president.

Citing a list of prominent scholars who teach and have taught at the school, Williams said, “I’m genuinely overwhelmed with emotion, joy and gratitude when I think that I’m now part of Southern’s rich history as a faculty member of color.”

Williams previously taught New Testament and Greek from 2008-2013 at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Ky. He and his wife, Ana, are parents to a five-year-old son, Jaden. They are members of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

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