Calvin Professors at Oxford University

This past summer, Oxford University hosted several Calvin College professors for various research projects and paper presentations. One of these professors, Frans van Liere from the history department, was invited by the Aquinas Institute at Blackfriars College to present a paper at a conference held at Oxford University.

The conference, held in mid-June, was called “A Millennium of Christian Biblical Exegesis: Augustine to Aquinas,” and it focused on examining how great theologians of the East and West drew on the Scriptures, illustrating the contrasts and continuities within the traditions they represent.

The paper van Liere presented was entitled “The Spectre of Judaizing: Victorine Exegesis and Hebraica Veritas.” According to van Liere, the paper “explored the study of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish exegesis as it happened at the 12th-century abbey of Saint Victor.” Van Liere focused specifically on “Andrew of Saint Victor’s interpretation of Isaiah 7:14 and its subsequent condemnation by Richard of Saint Victor in his invective ‘On Emmanuel.’” Van Liere’s translation of this text will be released next month in volume six of Victorine Texts in Translation, which he co-edited with Franklin Harkins of Boston College. Reflecting on his trip, professor van Liere was very pleased with the conference, describing it as a fruitful experience.

In August, professor Young Kim, another member of the history department and the chair of the classics department, was invited to present a paper at the Seventeenth Oxford Patristic Studies Conference. The conference is held once every four years and brings scholars and students from all over the world to Oxford University where they “present and hear papers and lectures on a wide range of subjects dealing with the writings, ideas and legacies of the church fathers (and mothers).”

Kim describes the conference to those who have not heard of it as the “Olympics of Patristics.” The conference was first held in 1951, and Kim said that “over the years some of most important and famous scholars in the field have given lectures and papers.”

But the conference has had to face the challenge that “the notion of ‘patristics’ has changed and has come to encompass far more than the usual suspects like Athanasius and Augustine,” and that there are now scholars working on a variety of subjects that include gender theory, the history of Christianity, Syriac Christianity and the relationship between Christianity and Islam.

This was Kim’s third time participating in the conference, and this year he presented a paper entitled “Nicaea is Not Enough: The Second Creed of Epiphanius’ Ancoratus.”

“Much of my research and scholarly productivity,” said Kim, “centers on the life and writings of Epiphanius, who was lead bishop of the island of Cyprus in the late fourth century.”

In addition to the presentations, Kim was thankful for the conference because it gave him the opportunity to connect with colleagues and friends from all over the world, especially those not from North America. He enjoyed many social gatherings at local pubs and catching up with friends from the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Asia and Australia.

Sociology professor Jonathan Hill spent his time at Oxford during a month-long program titled “Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities.” Hosted by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the program included a series of seminars given by scholars from a wide range of disciplines exploring the specific tension between religion and science.

Hill’s project concerned “the relationship of religious pluralism to higher education institutions, the religious faith and practice of emerging adults, and the influence of social and religious contexts on beliefs about human origins.” Working with the research institute, Science and Christianity in Oxford, Hill has been given a stipend which will go towards further research of the sociology of religion through the BioLogos Foundation in Grand Rapids.