Faculty updates

So much is happening around here these days. As the second-year students finish their theses and apply to PhD programs, and first-year students contemplate thesis topics and next year’s coursework, our faculty continue to publish and present around the country. Here’s a snippet:


Rebekah Eklund is teaching a workshop on lament at the Midwinter Conference, which is the annual gathering of clergy in the Evangelical Covenant Church (Jan. 27-31), in Chicago.

Jim Buckley will be participating in the North American Lutheran Catholic Dialogue from February 19 – February 23 in Washington, D.C.  The theme is “Practices of Teaching”, and the goal is to faithfully cdescribe the different practices of Lutherans and Cahtolics, discern where the crucial disagreements arise, and propose to the the Church and the churches ways to overcome those disagreements.

David Decosimo’s Ethics as a Work of Charity: Thomas Aquinas and Pagan Virtue will be released June 4, 2014 by Stanford Univ Press, but is available for pre-order already. Additionally, David was awarded one of two 2013-14 University of Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion’s Analytic Theology Course Grants for his MTS course “God, Good, and the Good Life” which is on offer this semester.

Also, Jim Buckley and Trent Pomplun and Michael Root (of Catholic University) are organizing the annual conference of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology at Loyola University Maryland from June 9 – June 11. What are the principalities and powers of our time? How do we understand them as created, fallen, and disarmed? How does the Christian today engage these powers? The 2014 conference of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology will take up this theme. Presentations will represent a variety of traditions: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant.  Jim Buckley will edit a volume of essays from this conference — and previous volumes are available at the Wipf and Stock web site, under “Pro Ecclesia Books”.

In recent history:

Dr. Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner was the external examiner and opponent at a doctoral thesis defense of Salla Palmi-Felin’s dissertation “’God’s Gift which Cannot Be Sold.’” Knowledge-Selling Professions in the Literature of Pastoral Care in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries” at University of Tampere, Finland on January 27, 2014.

Trent Pomplun, author of Jesuit on the Roof of the World (OUP, 2010), delivered ”God and Emptiness: The Tibetan Thomism of Ippolito Desideri, S.J. (1684-1733)” at the World Religion, World Church Colloquium at Notre Dame University on Nov. 7 2013. Trent has several articles coming out this year. Stay tuned for more information.

Steve Fowl published the following two essays:
“Effective History and the Cultivation of Wise Readers” Journal of Theological  Interpretation, 7:2 (2013) 153-161.
“Scripture and the Divided Church” in Horizons in Hermeneutics: A Festschrift for Anthony C. Thiselton, eds. S.E. Porter and M. Malcolm (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 2013) 217-233.

Additionally, Steve delivered the Carmichael Walling Lecture at Abilene Christian University’s Graduate School of Theology. His lecture can be found in two parts here and here.

Fritz Bauerschmidt’s new book on Thomas Aquinas: Faith, Reason, and Following Christ was released by OUP in Oct. 2013. The volume was actually the topic of a panel at AAR here in Baltimore in November. One of the panelist’s papers can be read over on Patheos.




What We Are: A reflection on the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

A reflection by MTS student Brendan O’Kane

Man is more than an animal[.]  Man is more than flesh and blood[.]  Some year(s) ago a chemist attempted to determine the worth of man in terms of material value[.]  The results of the study revealed that in terms of the markets of that day man was worth only 99 cents in material value.  This simply means that the stuff of man’s bodily make-up is worth only 99 cents.  But is it possible to explain the whole of man in terms of 99 cents[?]  Can we explain the literary genius of a Shakespeare in terms of 99 cents?  Can we explain the artistic genius of a Michelangelo in terms of 99 cents?  Can we explain the musical genius of a Beethoven in terms of 99 cents?  Can we explain the spiritual genius of Jesus of Nazareth in terms of nighty nine cents?  Can we explain the ongoing processes of our own ordinary lives in terms of 99 cents?  My friends there is something in man that cannot be calculated in materialistic terms.  Man is a being of spirit.  This is ultimately that which distinguishes man from his animal ancestry.  He is in time, yet above time; He is in nature, yet above nature.  He is made to have communion with that which is eternal and everlasting.

from “What Is Man” a sermon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on July 11th 1954.[1]

In 1954 America, ten years before legislation prohibited discrimination based on race, color, sex or national origin, there were those in our society who valued men differently.  There were those who denied the incalculable worth God gave all men and women.  Here Dr. King delivers a reminder of our true value.  It is a message of God’s love addressed directly to the congregation, yet intended for all of God’s children.  Dr. King was glorifying his teacher, Jesus Christ, by proclaiming this message to all, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15)  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a country filled with many who responded by covering their ears like a pedestrian averting the roar of an ambulance siren, yet he was not deterred.  He knew that the ambulance contained our entire nation.  His message, inspired by his belief in the Word, was and is now heard in classrooms and living rooms alike.   Today we pray for him and the daily practice of his message as the Apostles did in the upper room. (Acts 1:13)

[1] Punctuation added to original document is in parenthesis.


Loyola MTS at SBLAAR

If you’re interested in following our progress through the upcoming national AAR SBL gathering (American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature), happening in Baltimore this weekend, we’ve compiled our different efforts below. You can also follow our twitter feed and Facebook timeline for more information than you probably care to have.

Wednesday, 20

  • ETS panel–Wed. 3-6:10: The Theology of Karl Barth: Barth as Expositor of Scripture, feat Steve Fowl, “Karl Barth’s exegesis of Eph 1:4.” Hilton, Peale C.
  • ETS panel–Wed. 3-6:10: Method in Systematic Theology: An Evangelical Thomas?A Review of Frederick Bauerschmidt’s Thomas Aquinas: Faith, Reason and Following Christ (OUP, 2013), feat. Fritz Bauerschmidt. BCC345.

Friday, 22

  • 7-9:30pm: Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, “An Invitation to Conversation: Perspectives from Health Care Professionals and Scholars of Spirituality” (sponsored by Loyola MTS), feat. Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner. The University of Maryland Medical Center (Main Building, Weinberg Old Learning Center Classroom 6, 22. S. Greene Street).

Saturday, 23

  • S23-210–1-3:30: Christian Theology and the Bible, The Tropological Sense of Imprecatory Psalms, Rebekah Eklund presiding. Harborview 1 – Sheraton Inner Harbor
  • A23-222/S23-211–1-3:30: Eastern Orthodox Studies Group and SBL Development of Christian Theology Grouppanel discussion of THE UNITY OF CHRIST by Christopher Beeley, feat. Steve Fowl. CC342

Sunday, 24

  • S24-145–9-11:30: Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Review of R. Walter Moberly, Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture (Baker Academic, 2013), feat. Claire Mathews McGinnis. CC301-2
  • A24-106–9-11:30: Christian Systematic Theology section, feat. Matthew Moser, “Prayer as a Christological Mode of Existence.” CC328
  • M24-401–6:30-8:30: Discussing The First Thousand Years with Robert Louis Wilken (sponsored by Loyola MTS), feat. Angela Russell Christman, Jim Buckley, John Cavadini (ND), Lois Farag (Luther), and Robert L. Wilken (UVA). Marriott Inner Harbor-Grand Ballroom West

Monday, 25

  • A25-134–9-11:30: Science, Technology and Religion Group, feat. John Kiess, “Religion, Science and Democracy.” CC319
  • S25-114–9-11:30: panel discussion of CHARITY by Gary Anderson, feat. Steve Fowl. CC321.
  • S25-209–1-3:30: Christian Theology and the Bible, The Tropological Sense of Scripture, feat. Angela Russell Christman, “Like the Noon-Day Sun: Ambrose of Milan’s Homilies on Psalm 119.” CC332

Also, friend of Loyola MTS, Andrew Davison, will be presenting in the following panels:

  • M23-105–Sat, 9-12:30: Society for the Study of Anglicanism, Old Church Labels (High, Low, etc.) Do Not Work Anymore? – Or Do They? Sheraton Inner Harbor-Chesapeake I
  • A25-312–Mon, 4-6: Teaching Religion Section, Teaching About Self and Other. Hilton Baltimore-Poe

Events at Loyola MTS this month (November)

A lot is happening here this month, especially with the national American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Annual Joint Meeting in Baltimore (Nov 22-26).

Next Tuesday (Nov. 19), at 4pm in McGuire Hall West, Andrew Davison (Cambridge University, Westcott House) will present his research on finitude, scientific paradigms, and theology.

On Thursday (Nov. 21), at 5pm Nathan MacDonald (Cambridge University, St. John’s College) will present a paper entitled “Turbulent Priests: Israelite Religious History as a Protestant Construction.” For more information on this lecture, please email dwmcclain@loyola.edu.

A full list of our scholarly involvement in the AAR SBL meeting will be posted by Friday, Nov. 15.

Summer Theology Institute

Our Summer Institute is just around the corner – Aug. 5-8, 9-1130am.

Read up on the inspiration for the Institute here.

A tentative schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, Aug 5: Liturgical Theology with Prof. Fritz Bauerschmidt
  • Tuesday, Aug 6: Scripture with Prof. Rebekah Eklund
  • Wednesday, Aug 7: Ethics with Fr. John Conley
  • Thursday, Aug 8: Theology of Religions with Prof. Trent Pomplun

Lunch, parking, and library access are included as part of the registration fee ($300). 1 Continuing education unit (CEU) will be awarded upon completion of the Institute.

Register for our Summer Institute online.

“And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)

A reflection by Brendan O’Kane, MTS Student and Campus Minister at Loyola Blakefield High School in Baltimore, Maryland

The deceased Trayvon Martin and his family, George Zimmerman and his family, the prosecution, the defense, the judge and jury – they are all our neighbors. The Parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to accept this fact. Even those we might not agree with, get frustrated with, or harbor extreme feelings against, are still our neighbors. The story Jesus tells the lawyer provides us with a way we can practice this love: show mercy towards our fellow man.

The most relevant question today might be how can we show mercy when we are filled with discontent or even anger? We must first confront those feelings. James 4:1-2 states, “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.”

What questions, like the lawyer in the parable, must we ask God? The question I ask myself after hearing devastating news is usually, “Why?”. A better question to ask at this juncture might be “Can I really show mercy and love to all people?” and if we have faith in God and the teachings of Christ, the answer from above is a resounding “Yes”.

Obtaining some clarity from Jesus’s words, the lawyer recognizes the loving action of the Samaritan and is then called to “Go and do likewise” (10:37). Herein lies the difficult part for us as we go forth, yet they are directions we must embrace carefully. We are reminded in Leviticus 19:18 that, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

In a world marred with violence and hate, we must drown out those evils with love and mercy toward all, with no reservations.

The Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology Annual Conference is just around the corner!

Loyola University Maryland is happy to once again host the Annual CCET Conference. This year’s theme is on eschatology, entitled “Heaven, Hell,… and Purgatory?” The line up is excellent with presentations by David Yeago, Paul Griffiths, Isabel Moreira, Victor Lee Austin, Jerry Walls, Kyriaki Fitzgerald, and Ralph Wood.

Learn more about the Center and the Conference at www.e-ccet.org

See you there!

Lectionary Reflection: Ascension Day (Thursday, May 9) or Ascension Sunday (Sunday, May 12)

Texts:  Acts 7:55-60; Rev 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21; John 17:20-26

Today, May 9, is Ascension Day: the commemoration of Jesus ascending into heaven forty days after his resurrection (Acts 1:1-11). In some respects, it might seem strange to celebrate the departure of the risen Christ from this earth. Why is this a day of celebration for the church rather than a day of loss?

After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples had forty days of joy, during which their incredulity and fear and doubt must have slowly transformed into the courage and confidence that enabled their costly witness and even martyrdom in the years to come.

The disciples had forty days of instruction, during which Jesus spoke to them about the kingdom of God. Imagine their chagrin when the One who opened these mysteries to them was taken away into heaven before their eyes.

In Acts, two angels chide the disciples for standing around and staring into the sky after Jesus’ ascension. Time to get their eyes back to earth – they have a mission to complete. And then they learn two important things about Jesus’ departure: he will come again (Acts 1:11; Rev 22:12, 20), and he has not left them alone.

Ten days after the risen Christ ascends to the right hand of God, as witnessed by the first martyr, Stephen (Acts 7:55), the Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles in wind and flame and miraculous empowerment on the day of Pentecost. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises that when he leaves the disciples he will not leave them alone, but will give them the gift of the Comforter, the Encourager, the Advocate, the Exhorter – the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit continues to make the risen Christ present to the disciples, reminding them of his teaching and empowering them to fulfill the mission given to them by their Lord (Acts 1:8). Jesus had already assured his followers that they were one with him and with the Father, bound together by divine love (John 17:22-23); in his “absence,” the Spirit is the “bond of love” that not only binds the Trinity together (as Augustine wrote) but binds Christians to one another and assures them of the risen Christ’s ongoing presence with his church.

The reassurance that the risen Christ will return, ushering in the kingdom of God that his ministry, death, and resurrection inaugurated, does not mean the disciples sit around and wait until he comes back. When they ask Jesus if now (now, please!) is the time he’s going to restore the kingdom to Israel, Jesus gently reprimands them (“it is not for you to know”) and then promises them the empowering presence of the Spirit. And empower them the Spirit does; throughout the rest of Acts, the disciples heal, preach, gather in transformed communities, bring good news to the poor, and joyfully take the gospel to the ends of the earth. And although Christ himself, in his resurrected body, has departed the earth, they are never left alone. They live in the Spirit, and they trust that the risen Christ who ascended to the Father will return to earth – this time for good.

Lectionary Reflection: Good Friday

Reading I: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Responsorial Psalm: 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25; Reading II: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Gospel: John 18:1-19:42

The book of the prophet Isaiah has sometimes been called the “Fifth Gospel,” because Christians have mined it so thoroughly for prophecies of the Messiah. In it they have found passages that are illuminated by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; in turn, these passages themselves have cast a light that has helped Christians interpret the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the “Servant Songs” of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12). It is hard to imagine that these were not among “what referred to him in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27) that Jesus interpreted to the disciples on the road to Emmaus on Easter evening. It is hard to imagine that the first Christians did not look to such passages as they began to tell the story of the passion and death of Jesus, finding in them a way to understand Jesus as the one who “was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed” (53:5). Continue reading

Palm Sunday Lectionary Reflection (March 24, 2013)

Liturgy of the Palms:

Luke 19:28-40; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Liturgy of the Word:

Isa 50:4-9a; Ps 31:9-1; Phil 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23:56

I have a friend whose favorite Sunday is Palm Sunday, who experiences on this threshold of Easter the whole story of salvation rolled into one service. I must confess, on the other hand, that I often feel overwhelmed by Palm Sunday, liturgically and theologically. Perhaps I prefer Sundays with one main point, one obvious emotion: Pentecost, for example. Is Palm Sunday primarily a day of triumph and celebration, of children marching down the aisle waving palm branches, of shouts of praise lest the rocks cry out in our place? Or is it primarily a day of preparation, a somber recognition of the necessity of the coming passion, the gathering storm of the crucifixion, a rehearsal of the entire passion in nuce?

The appointed texts for the day neatly highlight the tension: the Liturgy of the Palms offers the triumphal entry texts, and the Liturgy of the Word pairs texts about suffering (Isaiah) and self-emptying (Philippians) with the full text of the passion narrative, from the Last Supper to the placing of Jesus’ body in the tomb, anticipating the holy days of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. So, which is it? Is it Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?

After reading and reflecting on these texts for several days, and savoring their richness, I am not sure if Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday are two different things after all. In the Gospels, the responses to Jesus’ remarkable entry into Jerusalem foreshadow the events to come. In Matthew’s account, the whole city is thrown into turmoil. In Luke, the Pharisees tell Jesus to stop his disciples from shouting lines from Psalm 118 as Jesus enters the city. Also in Luke, as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, still accompanied by crowds and waving palm branches, he weeps over the coming destruction of Jerusalem. The disciples who have shouted Hosannas will very soon betray, deny, and desert Jesus, fleeing in pain and fear.

One more detail from the triumphal entry links Jesus’ entrance into the city with his coming suffering. All four Gospels report that Jesus enters the city riding on a humble creature – a donkey. Matthew and John make sure that we know why Jesus chose this particular mode of transportation: in order to fulfill the words of Zechariah 9. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” In Zechariah 9, as in the Gospels, the king comes to Zion bringing peace. But this peace is bought at great cost, at an unimaginable price: the death of the king, the death of God’s beloved only Son. Jesus’ entry into the city is a triumphal entry, but not at all in the way anyone thought it would be – not the disciples, not the Pharisees, not the crowds of festival pilgrims. If the disciples could have seen what Jesus knew, they might have paused and wept at the gate of the city, too. It’s an ironically, proleptically triumphant entry, a kenotic entry, the moment at which Jesus puts his foot onto the inevitable path of the passion and never turns back.

On Palm Sunday, we can only wave the palms and shout our Hosannas if we remember that it’s also Passion Sunday, if we remember why Jesus has come to Jerusalem. Jesus does not enter the city to be hailed as a king. He enters the city to die.

Hosannas dying on our lips, the resounding thud of the stone rolling across the face of the tomb echoing in the silence, Palm Sunday – Passion Sunday – leaves us waiting, in trembling and hope, for Easter.