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Dr. Wray Beal: A Sabbatical Story

Thursday, August 1, 2019

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Ever wonder what professors do on sabbatical?

Rev. Dr. Lissa Wray Beal is Professor of Old Testament at Providence Theological Seminary. She also chairs the Seminary Bible and Theology Department, and when she isn’t teaching she is researching and writing.

During the first half of 2019, Dr. Wray Beal took a six-month sabbatical. Here’s what she was up to!

With three commentaries in progress, Dr. Wray Beal enjoyed much of her time at home writing and researching.

Her commentary on Joshua in the Story of God series (Zondervan) is nearly complete. Dr. Wray Beal completed the final edits and reviewed the book proofs ahead of its publication this fall – the culmination of a six-year project. The commentary is aimed at pastors and lay people and sets the book of Joshua in its ancient Near Eastern and canonical contexts, intentionally showing how the book connects with the New Testament and Christ. “I was very happy to work on a book that so many people find problematic,” Dr. Wray Beal says, “and to uncover its nuanced message for the people of God.”

A commentary on Jeremiah is also in the works and Dr. Wray Beal is hopeful for a 2022 publication date (Baker Academic Publishers). Jeremiah is a subject close to her heart and one that she has taught for several years at Providence.

Her sabbatical also afforded Dr. Wray Beal the time to begin a new commentary series with coeditor Dr. Danny Carroll (Wheaton College). The Old Testament series called The Bible in God’s World (Cascade Publishers) will be a valuable resource for pastors, explaining the biblical text, and attending to issues of justice and the Kingdom of God within it. This summer Dr. Wray Beal and Dr. Carroll began the work of planning and contracting contributors.

A highlight of her sabbatical was a six-week stint at Tyndale House in Cambridge, England. Tyndale House is an evangelical research centre which includes a residence and library resources for scholars from around the world. She valued interacting with colleagues and her close proximity to the world-class library. While there Dr. Wray Beal gave an invited paper entitled “Joshua and Jeremiah: Recalling the Past as Identity Formation” at Tyndale Fellowship Conference, an evangelical society of biblical scholars and theologians whose research is in service of the church.

At the end of June, Dr. Wray Beal was invited as a senior scholar guest to Trinity College’s Postgraduate Research Conference. Trinity College is an Anglican training school in Bristol, England, which also runs a PhD program in connection with the University of Aberdeen. As the keynote speaker at the three-day conference, Dr. Wray Beal gave a paper on “Foreign Gods, Foreign Lives, Foreign Land: Indictment and Repentance in Jeremiah 5.” “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the conference,” Dr. Wray Beal expressed. “The faculty was welcoming, strong in their love of Christ, and clearly passionate about their vocations of theological education.” 

Taking a sabbatical “gives a break from the busy ministry of teaching and leading the department, providing some refreshment and time for several research and writing projects,” says Dr. Wray Beal. “These will in turn enhance my teaching at Providence.”

Though she still has one or two summer engagements and plenty of research to keep her busy, Dr. Wray Beal is preparing to be in the Providence classroom again this fall. There is still time to apply and take one of her courses – perhaps Joshua: Insiders, Outsiders, and the Gift of Land!

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Providence is an accredited, interdenominational, multi-cultural, Christian institution that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Arts, Biblical Studies, Business, Professional Studies and Science. A learning community that transforms students into difference-makers, Providence teaches people to grow in knowledge and character for leadership and service.
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