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Published Date: May 5, 2023

Published Date: May 5, 2023

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Editor’s Reflection: Spring 2023

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The theme of this, the 146th issue of Priscilla Papers, is “Old Testament Connections.” You’ll encounter a sermon and four articles that explain OT texts and go on to connect each to Christian life and ministry. Also included is another article, Joan Brown’s “Rediscovering an Evangelical Heritage,” which stands apart from the issue’s theme but, nevertheless, is indeed perceptive and timely. I, together with the authors and other members of the Priscilla Papers team, hope and trust you will benefit from the insights and challenges in the following pages.

After nine years as editor of Priscilla Papers, I will no longer serve in that role after this spring 2023 issue. As a result, I’m taking more space than usual here in these opening pages to reflect on my time as editor and to introduce the incoming editor.

Looking Back

Much could be said, more than space allows, but I will limit myself to a few brief reflections:

  • What a blessing to have read every article, sermon, and book review published in Priscilla Papers since I began as editor in 2014—moreover, to have read each of them numerous times. I can testify that there is no shortage of scholarship in support of CBE’s mission and that it comes from a growing variety of professions and academic disciplines. As I have said many times, my biggest challenge as editor has been having too much material to publish, and that has remained true to the end.
  • What a blessing to have worked with such an array of authors. One of the stated purposes of Priscilla Papers is “to build a global team of egalitarian scholars.”I can testify that this is happening, and that it is happening quickly. The authors of this issue, for example, are from four continents. Not represented are—you guessed it—Antarctica, as well as Europe and Australia/Oceania, though we have had many authors from these two continents.
  • What a blessing that CBE and Priscilla Papers enjoy balanced participation of women and men, without resorting to tokenism. I can testify that about sixty percent of the 224 authors during my nine years as editor are women. And this didn’t start with me. In the year leading up to my editorship, for example, the percentage of female authors was about the same. It didn’t start with my predecessor, Bill Spencer, either. Women have been prominent in Priscilla Papers from the beginning. All the articles in the first issue, back in 1987, were authored by women (Sherri Aeschliman, Patricia Gundry, Catherine Kroeger, Kari Malcolm, and Alvera Mickelsen). The editor of that issue was Elizabeth “Betty” Kroeger Elliott, and it announced a conference featuring Elaine Storkey as the speaker.
  • What a blessing to work in partnership with others. I can testify that a large team of people contribute to the work of Priscilla Papers. I have always had a main contact person at CBE’s Minneapolis office—Tim Krueger, then Katie McEachern, and most recently Sarabeth Ng. Each of them has been skilled and a pleasure to work with. I have also, of course, worked closely with CBE President Mimi Haddad. I am amazed at the amount of important work Mimi accomplishes, and I am consistently blessed by the gracious manner in which she does so. Please know that the journal’s layout and other aspects of its appearance depend, not primarily on me, but on the work of Amber Burgess and Margaret Lawrence in Minneapolis and, especially, of Theresa Garbe who lives near me in eastern Tennessee. I have told Theresa many times, and I am now telling our readership, that I could not have done this work without her. Over 250 times I have sent her work to do, this editorial being the final time, and she has always done it with excellence.

With this teamwork aspect of Priscilla Papers in mind, permit me to explain why my editorials begin “I Tertius . . .” and end “. . . greet you in the Lord.”

Near the end of Paul’s letter to the Christians of Rome, we gain a rare glimpse of a behind-the-scenes participant in Paul’s letter-writing ministry. Romans 16:22 says, “I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord” (NIV). Tertius was Paul’s amanuensis, the person who penned the letter that Paul spoke aloud. His job was to prepare Paul’s words to be read and heard. Tertius uncharacteristically and momentarily stepped from behind the curtain because he knew some of the letter’s recipients and wanted to add his voice to Paul’s greetings. Theresa and I identify with him, for unlike the authors of the articles we publish, our work is largely behind the scenes.

My appreciation for Tertius, though it is the reason I chose to use his name in my editorials, is not the end of the story. Over the years, I have also come to think of the many coworkers in Romans 16 as a metaphor for the large number of people involved with the journal as authors, proofreaders, graphic designers, peer reviewers, photographers, and other roles as well. I think, for example, of Liz Beyer and Mary Gonsior, whose extensive work at CBE overlaps with Priscilla Papers.

Looking Forward

One of my early experiences with CBE was about fifteen years ago when I attended CBE’s annual conference in Bangalore, India. It was hosted by the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS). I had many deeply meaningful experiences on that trip. Among them was a powerful lecture by Havilah Dharamraj, an OT instructor at SAIACS. Because of my memory of that lecture, Havilah was the first person I reached out to when I became editor about seven years later, in hopes that she would write for Priscilla Papers. Her charity toward me in that email exchange is still clear in my memory. Havilah remained at SAIACS through the intervening years, as a professor and administrator, and continues to work there in the Department of Biblical Studies today.

Since meeting her in India, I have gradually come to know Havilah personally. She has published in Priscilla Papers, and as editor I partnered with her in that process. She gave a memorable keynote address at CBE’s 2019 international conference in Houston, Texas, during which I was reminded of her calm, confident, commanding presence as a lecturer. She and I are both currently at work on CBE’s Bible translation project, and through that process I have interacted with her extensively.

I trust you can see where the above comments are leading: I am especially pleased to inform our readership that Dr. Havilah Dharamraj is the incoming editor of Priscilla Papers. She is already at work on the summer and autumn issues. For the reasons given above and more, I can testify that she is a committed egalitarian and a respected scholar. Like Phoebe of Romans 16, Havilah, our sister in Christ, has been a help to many, myself included. Like Priscilla in Acts 18, she teaches God’s Way with accuracy. The land called Havilah in Genesis 2 is associated with abundance; similarly, Priscilla Papers will flourish under her leadership.2

Several of Havilah’s credentials and accomplishments are listed below:

  • Her degrees include an MS in biochemistry, an MA in Christian Studies from SAIACS, and the PhD from the University of Durham, UK.

Havilah’s books

  • A Prophet Like Moses?: A Narrative-Theological Reading of the Elijah Cycle (2011).
  • South Asia Bible Commentary (2015), coeditor and contributor.
  • Altogether Lovely: A Thematic and Intertextual Reading of the Song of Songs (2018).
  • Challenging Tradition: Innovation in Advanced Theological Education (2018), coeditor and contributor.
  • Ruth: A Pastoral and Contextual Commentary (2019).
  • Five Views of Christ in the Old Testament (2022), coeditor and contributor.

Select examples of Havilah’s articles

  • “The Idea of the Idyll: Why it May Not Work for the Song of Songs,” The Expository Times 124/9 (June 2013) 417–24.
  • “How are Christians to Understand the Imagery of Israel as God’s Unfaithful Wife, and What is the Relevance of the Divine-human Marriage Metaphor in our Lives Today?,” Mutuality 20/2 (Summer 2013) 19.
  • “We Reap What We Sow: Engaging Curriculum and Context in Theological Education,” Evangelical Review of Theology 38/4 (October 2014) 350–60.
  • “Green-Eyed Lovers: A Study of Jealousy in Song of Songs 8:5–7,” Priscilla Papers 32/1 (Winter 2018) 3–8.
  • “The Curious Case of Hagar: Biblical Studies and the Interdisciplinary Approach of Comparative Literature,” Journal of Asian Evangelical Theology 23/2 (September 2019) 49–71.
  • As mentioned above, Havilah is involved in CBE’s Bible translation project. She has also served on the Committee on Bible Translation for the New International Version of the Bible.
  • Havilah is president of the CBE India chapter.3
  • Havilah is married to Pandu Dharamraj; they have two married children and a grandson. Her email address is editor.priscillapapers@gmail.com, and all Priscilla Papers correspondence should be sent to her.

Notes

  1.  See Priscilla Papers Writers’ Guidelines.
  2. Genesis 2:11–12, CEB: “The name of the first river is the Pishon. It flows around the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. That land’s gold is pure, and the land also has sweet-smelling resins and gemstones.”
  3. For more about CBE chapters, see Find or Start a Local Chapter.