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Renowned scholars, authors to join seminary faculty
June 06, 2005
By Towers Staff

Author and scholar Donald Whitney is one of four new additions to Southern Seminary's faculty. He will teach and pioneer a doctoral program in Christian spirituality. Photo by David Merrifield

Signaling its continued commitment to excellence in scholarship, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has added four new members to its already world-renowned faculty.

The faculty additions include:

noted spiritual disciplines scholar Donald S. Whitney, who will teach in a new professorship of biblical spirituality and pioneer a doctoral program in Christian spirituality;

Old Testament scholars Kenneth A. Mathews and Eugene Merrill, who will join the faculty as distinguished professors of Old Testament interpretation;

and New Testament scholar Jonathan Pennington, who joins the faculty as assistant professor of New Testament interpretation.

The additions will help to continue Southern Seminary's tradition of training ministers with the most excellent scholars in the world, said Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern.

"These men are not only world-renowned minds, they also have fire in the belly for the salvation of the world, the multiplication of the churches and the glorification of Christ Jesus," he said. "With the addition of these men, Southern Seminary's faculty continues to model top-flight scholarship, grassroots pastoral ministry and trench-level spiritual warfare. And we wouldn't have it any other way. The stakes are just too high."

Whitney will serve as associate professor of biblical spirituality and director of the Supervised Ministry Experience. He will be in charge of assembling a curriculum for Christian spirituality at Southern Seminary and will also develop Ph.D. and doctor of ministry programs in Christian spirituality and the spiritual disciplines, Moore said. Whitney's appointment will commence with the fall semester.

Whitney, who has served as associate professor of spiritual formation at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary since 1995, is the author of numerous books on Christian spirituality and spiritual disciplines including Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church and Simplify Your Spiritual Life.

"In an era when spirituality means anything from Labyrinth walking to primal scream therapy, our churches need biblical wisdom about personal and congregational sanctification," Moore said. "Donald Whitney is the preeminent scholar of spiritual disciplines in the evangelical world. In Don Whitney, Southern Seminary has found the leader to help us ground our churches and church leaders in the call to godliness and holiness."

With the addition of Merrill and Mathews to the faculty, Southern Seminary brings in "two of the most high-powered Old Testament scholars in the evangelical world," Moore said.

"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.

Both will continue serving also in their current places of ministry, Dallas Theological Seminary and Beeson Divinity School respectively. 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.

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."

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."

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."

Pennington is coming to Southern Seminary from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland where he recently finished his doctoral studies. Along with numerous articles, Dr. Pennington has written books on both Greek and Hebrew vocabulary for Zondervan.

"Jonathan Pennington is one of the most impressive young biblical scholars in the world," Moore said. "He has already amassed a reputation for keen scholarship in biblical studies. Pennington also is a top-flight lecturer and preacher, with a heart for the local church.... I believe Jonathan Pennington is the next generation's A.T. Robertson, and I am proud to have him as part of the Southern Seminary tradition of confessionally faithful, academically rigorous, ecclessially applied biblical scholarship."

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