Southern Seminary appoints two distinguished Old Testament professors

Communications Staff — May 24, 2005

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has appointed to its faculty “two of the most high-powered Old Testament scholars in the evangelical world,” according to Russell D. Moore, Southern’s senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the school of theology.

Beginning in the fall Eugene Merrill and Kenneth Mathews will join Southern’s faculty, serving as distinguished professors of Old Testament interpretation.

“Students who study with Drs. Mathews and Merrill know that they are studying with men who are academically rigorous but who also maintain a humble, pastoral spirit and a commitment to the local church,” Moore said.

Merrill, who has served since 1975 as distinguished professor of Old Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, is the author of numerous books including “Kingdom of Priests: A History of the Old Testament Israel” and “Deuteronomy” in the New American Commentary Series. He regularly contributes to journals, periodicals, dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Mathews has served since 1989 as professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Among the books he has authored are commentaries on Genesis 1:1-11:26 and Genesis 11:27-50:26 in the New American Commentary Series. He also serves as associate general editor for the New American Commentary Series and is a regular contributor to scholarly journals and other publications.

Both Merrill and Mathews will continue to teach in their present institutions as well as at Southern, Moore said.

Merrill, who is a longtime member of First Baptist Church in Dallas, said he has long admired the leadership and scholarship produced by Southern.

“I have had a great interest in Southern Seminary for many years,” Merrill said. “… I‘ve always been much appreciative of the scholarship there and the leadership that that seminary has provided over the years to the convention.

“And I never dreamed, of course, that I would have any affiliation with the school. I‘m just delighted at what God has done in the last 10 or 15 years and the leadership that is currently there. I‘m just thrilled to death to be able to be part of it.”

Merrill, who has taught Old Testament studies for nearly 30 years, says he is looking forward to sharing his years of scholarly work with students at Southern.

“This is kind of the culmination of all my years of teaching Old Testament studies,” he said. “I find that biblical theology is the end product of years of study of Hebrew and hermeneutics and all the other disciplines. So I hope I‘m able to share some of my theological work and insights with students there at Southern.”

Moore said Merrill is a scholar whom he has long admired.

“Eugene Merrill is a hero of both mine and President Mohler’s and has been for many years,” Moore said. “… He has really stood as the premier Old Testament scholar who is committed to a conservative view of Scripture for well over a generation.”

Mathews hopes to enable students to preach and teach the Bible effectively and to understand the importance of the Old Testament.

“I have a passion for helping equip ministers of the Gospel to teach the Word of God faithfully, confidently and effectively,” he said. “And Southern Seminary, which holds a strategic place in the outworking of the Kingdom of God, provides me that opportunity.”

He commended Southern’s commitment to the Old Testament as inspired Christian Scripture, a commitment that will produce capable and powerful ministers, he said. Mathews has served as a visiting professor to Southern for the past few years.

“One of the important contributions of the seminary is its desire for the minister to view the Old Testament as Christian Scripture, not a history of ancient Israel or a history even of Israel’s religion, but a proclamation that the Christian community can own and proclaim,” Matthews said.

Moore called Mathews’ commentaries on Genesis “awe-inspiring” because of their level of scholarship and their teaching that the Old Testament points to Christ.

“Not only is his scholarship so clear and compelling, but also it is so Christocentric,” Moore said. “Ken Mathews understands our commitment at Southern Seminary to understanding all of the Bible as pointing to Jesus Christ, including the Old Testament.”

Moore concluded that Merrill and Mathews “are world-renowned scholars, both of whom are committed to the full authority of all of Scripture and the importance of the Old Testament revelation.”

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