Interview with Dr. Andrew T. Abernethy

03.16.2021  |  Season 2  |  Episode 13




SHOW NOTES

In this episode, Dr. Josh Jipp and Dr. Madison Pierce interview Dr. Andrew T. Abernethy, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and an alumnus of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Madison and Josh talk to Andy about how he became an academic, his time at TEDS, as well as his work on Isaiah and messianism in the Old Testament.

Want to check out more of the Dr. Abernethy’s work? You can purchase some of his books here:

Transcript

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Intro
[00:00:00] You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.

Josh Jipp
Hey, Madison! What’s going on?

Madison Pierce
Hey, Josh! How’s it going?

Jipp
Oh, I’m pretty good. [PIERCE LAUGHS] How are you? [LAUGHS]

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Good! I’m…I’m great. Thanks for asking.

Jipp
Okay. Good.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Pierce
You know, Josh, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about today. And actually, I’ve been waiting for quite awhile, because we haven’t gotten to host together in awhile, but, as you know, I—

Jipp
[SIGHS] Okay.

Pierce
—as you know, I’m a huge fan of your work—

Jipp
Mmhmm. Okay.

Pierce
—and—

Jipp
Yes…? Yes…I’m waiting for the punchline.—

Pierce
—so, I am. I legitimately—

Jipp
Thank you! Thanks so much! I appreciate that, Madison! [LAUGHS]—

Pierce
—I am. I’m a huge fan of your work. So, you know, I try to read what I can—

Jipp
—huge fan of your work too! [LAUGHS]

Pierce
—and I also… I try to listen whenever you’re on podcasts—

Jipp
Oh no. Okay.

Pierce
—and you’ve done some…you’ve done some really great interviews lately. But, there is something that we kind of need to work on—

Jipp
[SIGHS HEAVILY] You’re making me nervous. Okay, yeah.

Pierce
—because…because you…you are on a podcast.

Jipp
Yeah.

Pierce
You host a podcast. And, I noticed that—

Jipp
With four people. It’s like I’m a quarter host, basically. Yeah.

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Okay. Um, we can give you more responsibility. Do you want to do more?

Jipp
[LAUGHS] Administrative stuff or more like talking?

Pierce
Either.

Jipp
No. I don’t…I’m good. I’m good right where I’m at.

Pierce
I thought so.—

Jipp
I think I’m in my sweet spot.—

Pierce
Okay. Well, so, on Eric Roseberry’s, um, podcast—On Biblical Scholarship—

Jipp
Yeah.

Pierce
—he asked you, “Josh, do you have anything you want to promote?”—

Jipp
Okay. Okay.

Pierce
—and he was like, “Don’t you have a podcast?” And you were like, “Oh, yeah, I do have a podcast.” We’ll…we’ll play the clip. Curtis, can we play the clip?

[CLIP FROM ON BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP STARTS PLAYING]

Eric Roseberry [HOST]

Uh, Dr. Jipp, thank you so much for your time today. Anything you want to plug or let people know about? I think there’s a podcast, right? That you’re a part of?

Jipp
A podcast? Oh, our Foreword podcast!

Roseberry

Yeah!

Jipp
Yes, uh—

Roseberry

Madison Pierce was the first guest ever on the show, so she was pushing it.—

Jipp
—Check us out! Yeah, Madison….yeah, can we edit this so it sounds like I’m actually really plugging our podcast? [LAUGHTER] Check us out! Forewordpodcast.com—Madison Pierce, Michelle Knight, James Arcadi, Josh Jipp—

[CLIP ENDS]

Pierce
[LAUGHTER] Okay, so there it is. So let’s practice this again.

Jipp
Okay.

Pierce
Josh, do you have anything you want to promote?

Jipp
I do! Uh, I’d really love for you all to get involved in subscribing to this wonderful podcast called Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. And, um, you can subscribe on iTunes, you can…I don’t know. [PIERCE LAUGHS] I know there’s a lot of places on the internet where you can subscribe. You can leave reviews. [PIERCE LAUGHS] Um, you can tell your friends and your neighbors, and you can, um…you could also donate money to us. [PIERCE LAUGHS] So for example, if…if at any point you feel like “This podcast is so great!” Why not send us five bucks in the mail—or even just a Starbucks gift card? [PIERCE LAUGHS] Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. [LAUGHS] How was that?

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Yeah, um, I’m glad we practiced this. Yeah, that’s good.

Jipp
Yeah.

Pierce
And by the way, if you do for some reason decide to take him up on this, audience, and send money, do not address it to Josh. Uh, address it to Foreword. Let’s make sure it gets in the right hands. [LAUGHS]—

Jipp
I was the one who just made the plea for it!

Pierce
You…okay, but—

Jipp
You can do… you don’t have to do money! You can do gift cards. [PIERCE LAUGHS] Amazon, um—

Pierce
Buffalo Wild Wings.

Jipp
—Buffalo Wild Wings. Dick’s Sporting Goods is, like, I would love—anyway…anyway, anything you can think of. I’m…as the kids like to say these days, “I’m here for it.”

Pierce
Oh my goodness. You made that look so difficult. [JIPP LAUGHS] “Josh, is there anything you want to promote?” “Yeah, I’m on a podcast! Check it out at Forewordpodcast.com.” [LAUGHTER]

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Jipp
[LAUGHS] That’s all…that’s all you were going—I don’t know. I feel like you wanted me to, um, to do more than just say, “Check it out at Foreword…” What’s…what…forewordpodcast.com? I’ve never been to our website.

Pierce
Yes, that is the website. Forewordpodcast—

Jipp
I don’t know. Do we have a website? [LAUGHS]

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Yes.

Jipp
Okay. [LAUGHS]

Pierce
Okay. Well, you know what? I think it’s a good idea that we talk to Andy. [JIPP LAUGHS] Um, today we’ve got Andy Abernethy and let’s, uh, get him in here.

Jipp
Am I in trouble? Have I got a…okay, yeah. Let’s get Andy on the show. [LAUGHTER]

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

[00:04:43] Hey, everyone, and welcome to Foreword. I’m Josh Jipp.

Pierce
And I’m Madison Pierce.

Jipp
And today, we are privileged to have with us Dr. Andrew Abernethy—Associate Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. Andy received his Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School as well as his PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and we’re so happy to have him on the podcast with us today. Thanks so much for spending some time with us, Andy.

Andy Abernethy
It’s great to be here with you, Josh and Madison.

Jipp
Now Andy, I want to hear a little bit—I think our listeners would love to learn a little bit about; how did you get to be where you are, sitting in, um, your office as a professor at Wheaton College? Tell us a little bit about your vocational trajectory.

Abernethy
Yeah, you…you know, I’m a…I tell my students that I’m an accidental academic. Like, I…this…me sitting in an office as a professor is very unexpected, uh, journey for me. And, um, when I was in college, I was not following the Lord my first few years, partying my brains out, not going to class—one semester, I got a .8 GPA, um, and—

Jipp
[LAUGHS] That’s probably not easy to do! [LAUGHTER]—

Abernethy
[LAUGHS] I know! It’s like, “How did you do that?”—

Jipp
[LAUGHS] Very impressive!

Abernethy
—“How did you get a D+ in one of your classes?”  [LAUGHTER] You know? I…I still don’t know how I did—got that D+. But, um, then I turned to the Lord and ended up going to a liberal arts Christian college and just started reading the Bible out of desperation to know the Lord, and I didn’t—I would never have thought of the Bible as a vocation, certainly not to be a scholar and teacher of it. And, um…petty soon, though, I…I started feeling a call to minister God’s word and, um…and for me, that…that meant going to seminary, and I ended up at TEDS and, you know, I met this guy named Josh Jipp who, uh—when I was there at TEDS—and we lived in the quads together. Right, Josh?

Jipp
Yeah. Yeah, we did.—

Abernethy
Do they still have that? Do they still let students live in those quads? [PIERCE LAUGHS]

Jipp
They don’t. They, uh, they look pretty…they look pretty bad.

Abernethy
Yeah.

Jipp
But I still—Andy, I still sometimes go down there and walk around and just think about the good old days with people like you and Felix Theonugraha, and…you know?—

Abernethy
Yeah.

Jipp
just…yeah.

Abernethy
Those were great days.

Jipp
They were.

Abernethy
They should…they should turn that into a museum of sorts—

Jipp
I know. I know.

Abernethy
—like, especially your room. “The…Josh Jipp’s room.” [JIPP LAUGHS]

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Oh my goodness.

Abernethy
[LAUGHS] Um, so—

Jipp
Yeah. Let’s not…let’s get it back to…to you, here, Andy. [LAUGHS]

Abernethy
Oh, okay. Okay, here we go. So yeah, so at TEDS—I, um, loved studying at TEDS with great people. And, um, I was really inspired by Dr. VanGemeren—Willem VanGemeren. His..his teaching in the prophets was just—my, you know, the disciples on the road to Emmaus—their hearts were burning as they talked with Jesus. That’s how I felt when I was in VanGemeren’s class. He…he had a way of opening Scriptures that helped you encounter God and to help you think theologically about the God that these texts are bearing witness to and how they bear witness to Christ. And that kind of lit a fire in me. I had already been loving the Old Testament, as well as Hebrew, but there was a little seed planted in the back of my mind that, “If I ever go and do a PhD someday, I want to do it in the prophets.” Um, I took a call to be a high school youth pastor at a church in Indianapolis, and that was right when I was finishing my MDiv, and Dr. VanGemeren and I had a conversation; he encouraged me. He said, “You know, you really should do a PhD someday.” And for me, I…I didn’t have this kind of master plan of “Oh, I want to go onto Harvard someday,” or, “I want to go study with this or that scholar.” To me, it’s like, I had everything I needed in VanGemeren. I wanted to be like VanGemeren. I wanted to…the guy would walk around with this Hebrew Bible open. [LAUGHTER] Did either of you have classes with him?

Jipp
[LAUGHS] I had one, yeah.

Pierce
I didn’t, no.

Abernethy
And he would just—he was like a Rabbi—but he would just walk around and half the time, you couldn’t understand what he was talking about, because he was just on this different plane. But he’d bring you into this world of the text and then all of a sudden, the dots start connecting and, uh, I loved how he…he interpreted Scripture—with a careful eye toward Scripture, but also connected to theology. And, um, to me it was, “Well, if I could study with VanGemeren, I…I would be all set.” And I came to TEDS and really had a great, uh, experience studying. Unbelievable student—you know, in my PhD cohort, we had a student from Burkina Faso, who is now in Côte d’Ivoire, African—Yacouba Sanon, who is now heading up the African Bible Project.—

Pierce
Wow.

Abernethy
—I mean, an unbelievable, um, person that was in my cohort, and others that—May Young is now at Taylor University; Libby, um, Backfish is now at William Jessup; Jill Ross is on faculty at Liberty; um, Ingrid Faro, who’s been at TEDS and at Northern—so just a great group. And I had a great time studying at TEDS and, um, I took a job at Ridley College while I was finishing my PhD down under with Josh Jipp’s best friend Mike Bird, right? So, you know, I need to hear more backstories about that friendship—

Jipp
Well, I don’t want to say he’s not my best friend, but he’s more like my pen pal from 20 years ago, so… [LAUGHTER]

Abernethy
[LAUGHS] Okay. You guys have…you know, he talked quite regularly about you, Josh.

Jipp
We do…we carried on—

Abernethy
—Didn’t you  room…room together at a conference one…?— [PIERCE LAUGHS]

Jipp
—we carried on like a five year email conversation about, like, “No, pistis…pistis Christus (πίστις Χριστος) this,” you know, “ergon nomou (ἔργων νόμου) that,” you know? So, yeah, I love Mike. Mike’s great.

Abernethy
Yeah.

Pierce
[00:11:16] I actually need to jump in here, because—

Abernethy
Yeah.

Pierce
—you going to Ridley is a part of my story, too. Because, Andy, you and I met when you were at TEDS also, but in a different capacity.

Abernethy
That’s right.

Pierce
You were my Hebrew professor, but only for a semester. [LAUGHTER] Because, you got this opportunity and you left us behind!

Abernethy
I did leave you behind. You know, Madison was a great Hebrew student and the odd thing about Australia is—I mean, not odd, it’s more so compared to the U.S. educational system—they start their school year in…in really, February, so they go based on the calendar year, so I had to ditch Madison and her group, so, but yeah.—

Jipp
Some abandonment  issues here, I can tell.

Pierce
Yeah.

Abernethy
Yeah. So…so  if I had stayed, Madison, do you think you would be an Old Testament scholar, or were you already on track to be a New Testament scholar? [LAUGHTER]

Pierce
I think I was thoroughly corrupted by that point, [ABERNETHY LAUGHS] but, you know, that’s despite your best efforts. [LAUGHTER]

Abernethy
Okay. That’s fine.

Pierce
You were a great professor. We really did miss you after you were gone.

Abernethy
Yeah, you were…it was fun, yep.

Jipp
I’ve heard Madison share just how good of a Hebrew teacher you…you were, Andy. So, um, I know she’s being genuine here.

Abernethy
Aww. Yeah, thank you.

Jipp
Um, let’s…can we talk—I’d love to hear a little bit about your work. I’ve read…I’ve read two of your books, but I never read…I think your published dissertation which had to do on food in Isaiah. Is that right?

Abernethy
Yeah. That’s right.

Jipp
Tell us…just give us a minute or two—like, what’s something that we would, like, all be better off for knowing about the theme of food in Isaiah?

Abernethy
Yeah. That’s…that’s a great question. I mean, I think one of the—I guess I’ll throw two things out at you. Often, we miss the grounded reality of our faith. And what I mean by “grounded”—our faith being anchored in a material world, um, even though obviously we hope for new creation—and we don’t often think of promises like, “The whole book opens;” “If you are willing and you obey, you will eat the good of the land.” For most of us, our bellies are full. You know, maybe we had some anxiety during COVID whether we’d get food or not, but this was a time when the food supply was depleted and there’s a dependence on the Lord for food. And the book ends by declaring “my servant shall eat.” So this…this idea of God being this giver of food through the land is kind of this recognition of God being the One through whom this food is coming and his servants will be able to enjoy it. So, I would throw to that. The other thing I would say; I did not expect to get into how much food was interrelated to, um, imperial discourse. And what I mean by this is this: If you are an ancient army, and you are going on a campaign, when do you go on a campaign? You go during harvest season so that the people that you’re—they didn’t have big supplies of refrigerated food for their troops, you know? [LAUGHS] And these ancient empires use the destruction of crops and food as a way to say who’s really king—Sennacherib as king: “Look, we’re going to destroy your crops if you don’t give into us. We’re going to cut down your trees.” But on the other hand, kings also would use feasts as occasions for really showing off and displaying who they are—their power, their generosity—you know, you give of feasts like you see in Esther or, um, or Daniel, where, you know, it’s this big display. And it really frames for me Isaiah 25, which has this great vision of God hosting a meal. And you see God kind of as king hosting this meal, and these meals show what the king is like, and guess who’s at the meal? All nations. He’s giving them the riches of food and He’s swallowing death for them Himself, you know? And so the way that meals can kind of portray kind of a social-theological vision of who God is as king I think was a bit unexpected in the way that that fit into discourse at that time.

Pierce
Wow. That’s excellent, Andy.

Abernethy
Are you better off for knowing that, Josh? [PIERCE LAUGHS]

Jipp
[00:15:45] I think I am, yeah! No, I think I am. And it’s kind of a small, maybe an obvious statement, but I hadn’t thought of Isaiah 25 like the metaphor of—I mean, I know, like, death being swallowed…death being swallowed up, but I hadn’t thought of it in terms of, like, God…you know, and it says “All nations will eat and will feast and…,” but I hadn’t connected it  that, like, God’s the one that’s swallowing death. So that’s just an interesting—

Abernethy
Yeah, yeah, it’s a cool—

Jipp
—interesting thing that I’m thinking about that you just…yeah, just…yeah. I’m better off, I think.

Abernethy
Okay. Good. [JIPP LAUGHS]

Pierce
Yeah, and Josh, you know, he really likes food, so there was a—

Abernethy
Yeah! Hospitality, right? [PIERCE LAUGHS] You wrote on hospitality and food—

Jipp
Hospitality, kings, I mean…you know. [LAUGHS]—

Pierce
You’re ticking all the boxes. [LAUGHS]

Abernethy
We have a lot in common, Josh! What were they…what were they feeding us in the dining hall at TEDS when we were—

Jipp
I don’t know. I don’t know.

Abernethy
—we were eating a lot of the same stuff—

Jipp
I guess so.

Abernethy
—but we ended up in different testaments, so…

Jipp
Yep. Yep. [LAUGHS]

Pierce
Oh, goodness. Well, along those same lines, I think I have a few questions. I mean, one is, you know, I’d like to hear a little bit about the new project that you and, um, Gregory Goswell did on the messiah. Um, but before we get there, you know, we’ve talked already about your work in Isaiah, um, that book is on the horizon, but then you also do have the festschrift for Dr. VanGemeren.

Abernethy
Yeah.

Pierce
So what are the threads in your work that you think are dominant?

Abernethy
Wow, uh, that’s a great question. Um, yeah, so I wrote Eating in Isaiah, and what that…that thread is a literary approach to the book of Isaiah—how to read the book as a whole and attending to its literary flow. And from there, I wrote The Book of Isaiah and God’s Kingdom, which gave me the opportunity to be more biblical-theological—we’re closely reading Isaiah, again, with a more of a literary interest in mind, but being able to ask, now, canonical questions: “How, when we read Isaiah, has it been structured to bear witness to God?” And…and I suggested God’s Kingdom as a nice way for holding together what the book’s doing. But I also, within there, had actually the chance to mention the name Jesus—Madison, you’ll be glad about that! [LAUGHS]

Pierce
Phew!

Abernethy
Because you know, of course, when you’re doing some dissertation work—and, you know, my dissertation is published by Brill—in Old Testament Studies, you can’t go there, really—especially when you’re, um, trying to contribute in contexts like SBL and so forth. Um, but I don’t view that work I did on Eating in Isaiah as defunct; it’s just…more would, in my view, fit into a larger interpretive project, where you could build on that. And so, for what The Book of Isaiah and God’s Kingdom allowed me to do was to say, “Well, how do we read these discrete witnesses to who God is as bearing witnesses to the same God that we profess as being made known in Christ?” And so, I would kind of position my thread as a concern to listen closely to the text, allow it to speak its own—kind of sound forth with its own discrete voice in a way that bears witness to Christ, and so I was able to develop that. And the festschrift for VanGemeren…um, what title did we settle on? I need to find the—

Pierce
Reading the Old Testament Theologically?

Abernethy
Interpreting the Old Testament Theologically was a chance just to get others to contribute to this project, and honor, really, the legacy of VanGemeren. He was a theological interpreter way ahead of his kind. And if our audience hasn’t had the chance to read the chapter in there by Kevin Vanhoozer where he contrasts Walter Moberly—who you probably know quite well, Madison—his work with VanGemeren and he kind of brings them into discussion as theological interpreters. So I’d say that’s where my heartbeat is—close, careful readings of texts and being able to ask those bigger theological questions. And if I could just talk a bit about a book that’s going to come out this summer—

Pierce
Yeah!

Abernethy
—I wrote a book for a series that…that I think should get more notoriety than it does; it’s called Discovering Biblical Texts. I don’t know if either of you’ve heard of that series, but Anthony Thiselton wrote one on Romans and Iain Provan wrote one on Genesis. But what they ask—I…I didn’t think I ever wanted to write an intro book on Isaiah again; it felt like I’d already written that in The Book of Isaiah and God’s Kingdom. But, what this series requires that you do is you integrate historical backgrounds, literary studies, and reception history.

Pierce
Wow.

Abernethy
And that was a really cool project for me to do. And so, I engage with voices from Martin Luther King Jr., to some liberation theologians, to artists, to musicians, and then all the way through the whole gamut of Christian interpreters throughout the centuries, and trying to wrestle with—and trying to present a vision for how to read Isaiah as…what I would say as Christian Scriptures. So, um, so it was a wonderful project, and that should be coming out this summer. So, yeah. So those are kind of the threads, I’d say, is a concern to try to have discernment as we read texts carefully and think theologically about what we’re reading.

Pierce
That’s excellent. Thanks, Andy!

Jipp
[00:21:44] So, Madison’s other question: tell us more about God’s Messiah in the Old Testament. Why did you…why…why write this book?

Abernethy
Yeah.

Jipp
Why wasn’t the scholarship on the Old Testament good enough before you and Greg wrote the book? [LAUGHTER]

Abernethy
[LAUGHS] Yeah, I think, um, Greg asked me to write the book with him, I guess is my answer.

Jipp
Boring. Come on. Let’s get to, like, what…what…[LAUGHS]—

Abernethy
[LAUGHS] The…the bigger answer is this—this is the big question students often have in mind: Okay. When I read the Old Testament, they’ll hear things like, “Everything in the Old Testament is about Jesus. Everything…” you know, and while in a tempered way, I would affirm that everything in the Old Testament is about Jesus, but they’re expecting to see every passage somehow fitting into this mold of expecting a Davidic—a king, and a hope for a king, like, a human…or, like, a messianic king figure. And once they start reading the Old Testament, they’re like, “There’s not that…”—they’re like, “Where is all this Jesus stuff?” You know? And, um, I had a hard time knowing where to direct my students. You know, you have the more critical scholars who would just kind of say, “You don’t really have any Messianic hopes in there.” And you know, I mean Fitzmyer and others would kind of point in that direction. And then…then you have other works, which I don’t want to name any names of other scholars who’ve been good works, but kind of what they do is they kind of hop from promise to promise and they just kind of deal with a couple of verses here or there. And I think in the process, they miss kind of the, um, fullness of the way the Old Testament is bearing witness to a future king. So for instance, what might be messianic about 1 and 2 Kings? Okay, you’re going to have a hard time finding in there a promise like “Unto us a child is born and a son is given.” [PIERCE LAUGHS] You know, you get that in Isaiah. What’s messianic about 1 and 2 Kings? Well, can you ask a larger question of “Well, once 1 and 2 Kings was finished, there was no king on the throne.” And as you look at 1 and 2 Kings, there’s a certain ideal of what the kind of king that Israel needed is portrayed and…and how it’s written, that…that what we argue is built around kind of a Solomonic and Josianic idea. Like, the kings are talked about in a way which would lead to a kind of ideal of “Oh, here’s what a good king would really be like.” And then the book ends with Jehoiachin getting elevated to the table of the Babylonian king. And you just wonder “Oh. Maybe…maybe God is going to remain committed to the line of David.” And so I think what Greg and I tried to do is…is offer a treatment of the Messiah project, which was…is willing to kind of look at some of those promise passages, but also raise the question of how these larger narratives are portraying an ideal king as well. So we take more of a book by book approach, which I think makes us distinguished…trying to hear how either promises or the hopes or ideals that emerge kind of fit within the shape and structure of each book. So…so I…I’ve really enjoyed teaching a class on it this semester, to my undergrad students, and for a lot of them, they are just loving it. They have not had a chance to kind of see this flow of the whole Old Testament storyline, and then just kind of focus on one of those pieces and how it’s fitting into a larger mission and vision.

Pierce
I love that.

Abernethy
So, um, yeah, so…and Josh and I have talked on another podcast—it would have been a lot of fun if we could have written, like, for the same publisher and kind of had a launch party of Old and New Testament portraits of the Messiah. But as I read your work, Josh, I mean, you took a similar step of saying, “Okay, let’s just focus in on the royal aspect of Messianic hope here.” And I found that really affirming and encouraging to have seen…seen you kind of following a similar path.

Jipp
[00:26:37] Yeah, it’s…it is similar…I did something similar in that it’s, uh—it feels like you could…if you…I think you’re kind of talking about some of those scholars who try to say, “Here are promises about Jesus. Everything gets melded in together about the Messiah.”

Abernethy
Yeah.

Jipp
And so, I would say I tried to do what you did and at times struggled, and also, in terms of knowing, “Does this fit under…is this, like, Davidic, Messianic, sort of royal, or, you know…” and sometimes the texts are…are not always easy…you know, perfectly distinguishable.

Abernethy
Yeah.

Jipp
 But…but yeah. I felt as though, when I then read your book, you know, we were…we were definitely like-minded as well, but…

Abernethy
Yeah. And what I tell my students, and others, is like, “There are so many ways the Old Testament points to Jesus!” I mean, opening chapters of Genesis—you got…if…if you want to draw on John 1, you know, you’ve got to deal with the word speaking there…Jesus….you know, the God we’re getting to know—we’re seeing witness to Christ. And of course the New Testament writers are drawing on passages in the Old Testament that are just talking about God, really, there. They’re not talking about a human agent, and they apply them to Jesus. And so…but trying to lift and focus specifically on that royal bit I think is what you and I both…it was…it’s kind of cool to see how those…those aligned, so…

Jipp
Yep. Yep. Absolutely.

Pierce
That is really fun. Yeah, thanks for sharing that, Andy. And I mean, I think that’s really cool—and both you and Josh have…have put together something really great, so thanks for y’all’s contributions.

Abernethy
Yeah. Thank you, Madison.

Pierce
Uh, I’ll shift gears a little bit, and so we’ll kind of move into some of the ways that what you are doing in your classroom intersects with, you know, ministry, or what you kind of see as your contribution to the church more broadly.

Abernethy
Yeah.

Pierce
I…I think you’ve said some of that in talking about, you know, conveying God to your students and, um, you’ve given us a vision for theological education, I think. Um, but one of the things that I wanted to highlight—because it’s something that I’ve experienced—um, I think that, even after you went to Ridley and…and left me. [LAUGHER] I want to make sure I really…[LAUGHS] just joking—

Abernethy
[LAUGHS] Remind me of that again, right?

Pierce
—We were so…we were so happy for you, Andy. Um, but after that, you know, you and I continued to interact with each other at conferences, and I can say that you were one of the people that I knew was in my corner and that you were really invested in my success and all of that. So I felt so much encouragement.—

Abernethy
Good.

Pierce
—So I don’t know to what extent that’s really intentional, or whether that’s something that just flows out of you being you, but I wonder if there are some intentional things that you do to encourage young scholars around you, or even kind of students who are, um, you know, moving forward or whatever.

Abernethy
[00:29:29] Yeah. Well I’m encouraged to hear that, Madison. I mean, it…I just love…I mean, you see Paul and others write in this way—I just take great joy in seeing you thrive, Madison. I mean, you’re…you’re a rockstar. I remember after an ETS session…uh, I think it was Josh McNall—uh, you were responding to one of his books—he’s like, “Hey, do you know Madison Pierce?” You know? [PIERCE LAUGHS] Like, “Yeah! She was one of my students! I’ll get any credit!” [LAUGHTER] No…he was like, “She is sharp! She was quoting from this…,” you know. And, um, so you’re…you’re a great one to cheer for and encourage. I would just say, from…from my own standpoint, I think that, um—Madison, I don’t want to bring gender into it, but I already have. Like, you’re one of how many people at ETS that were female? Just be honest. Like, you were brave, let alone in my class. And who am I to be a scholar? God came alongside me. And I just have a heart for people trying to do what God calls them to and to be an encouragement in that. And I’ve tried to reach out to those…I mean, think about James. I mean, when people come into church, who are you going to be, like, giving the prime seat? You know, you need to think about, “Who are the ones in need of encouragement in your midst?” And I’m naturally gifted—I think God’s given me a gift of encouragement. But I just wanted to come…come alongside you, Madison, and…and encourage you so that you could thrive. And I would just say, for any scholar who’s feeling called, you know, you’re going to need people like that who believe in you, because we all feel like phonies.

Jipp
Yeah.

Pierce
Yeah.

Abernethy
We all do. Especially when you’re in the job market, doing your dissertation, first times teaching, you’re just faking it till you make it. And we need people who say, “I believe in you. Let me give you some tips of things that have helped me get to where I got.” I did…I think I remember sharing with you, Madison, my first job interview—I did horrible! I…I got like, this conference call; I couldn’t see anyone. And the head of the search committee I guess really liked me, and he…he called me afterwards. He said, “Yo, Andy! It seemed like you weren’t even interested in the job, man!” [LAUGHTER]

Pierce
[LAUGHS] Oh no!

Abernethy
You know? And I’m like, “I was just trying to play it cool!” [LAUGHTER] You know, this sort of thing, like, “I’m not, like, someone who has it all together!” [PIERCE LAUGHS] He’s like, “Andy, you gotta bring it, dude! You gotta bring it in the interview! They need to see what you’re going to be like in the classroom,” and…and all that. So I’ve had—you know, and what was so cool about that…he’s like, “So we’re going to schedule an interview with you for two weeks from now.” And right after that, that conversation, that night, I was interviewing with Ridley—so I was ready to bring it! [LAUGHTER] I got hired by Ridley; I don’t even need to mess with another interview with that other school, so…

Pierce
That’s amazing.

Abernethy
So, I…I think, um, you know, I’m happy to encourage…encourage others. And, um, you know, I would just encourage people to…as they’re thinking about their vocation and contribution, that we’re all gifted differently.

Pierce
Yeah.

Abernethy
And some of us, um, are…are more pastoral in nature; others aren’t. Some are more, um, technicians; others are bigger—but we’re all different. You know, and so learning to affirm each other in our diff—even though we’re on… have different gifts, I think is so important. And that’s why you don’t want to build a faculty that…where everybody has the same gifts and are all historically-oriented or all only canonically-oriented or all this way or that way. It’s great to learn to value what one another are doing.

Pierce
Yeah.

Abernethy
And I’ve…so I’d encourage younger scholars that there can be a place for people with a range of gifts and so forth. I’m a jock. I…I talk like a jock. I heard one professor say I kind of have an athletic presence in the classroom or something like that. [LAUGHTER] And I’m like, “I’m just ti—” you know, and, um, but I hear…but, little did I know, God would bring me to Wheaton College, where I have athletes in my classes and I get to invest in these athletes. Or, I…I have had different health challenges and, you know, I can encourage those who are struggling with different issues. You know, God will use all of that in different ways. He wants us all…all to be faithful with who He’s made us to be.

Pierce
[00:35:00] Thank you so much, Andy. I…I certainly didn’t mean for you to say kind things about me, but I do really appreciate you affirming me, yet again. [LAUGHS] So thank you so much.

Abernethy
Yeah, no, I—keep coming back any time. [LAUGHTER] I’ve got a lot of encouragement for you, Madison. I’m a big fan. So…yeah, and I can’t wait to read your book, Madison. [JIPP LAUGHS] I mean, for the Trinity, to see Father, Son, and Spirit. Yeah, I mean I…I cannot wait to have a look at that, so…

Pierce
Oh, thanks Andy.

Abernethy
Yeah. Yeah.

Jipp
Thanks, Andy. That was, um—love hearing your wisdom and just…pastor’s heart, so…um, it’s been a lot of fun. We kind of want to start asking this question of maybe all of our guests, but you as a TEDS alum twice over, um, last question: Do you have any sort of hopes, you know, for TEDS? And you can be as general or specific, answer it in any way you want. But you have a vested interest, right? And I’ve heard you talk about how much you love TEDS and you want to see it thrive.

Abernethy
Yeah.

Jipp
You want to see it do well. Do you want to take a minute just to kind of share with us some of your hopes for Trinity?

Abernethy
Yeah. I…I would just reiterate what you just said. And they—let me tell you, Josh and Madison have not asked me to come on to plug TEDS.

Pierce
No.

Abernethy
They haven’t. But, when I meet with students, like, TEDS…TEDS is the place I want them to go within Evangelicalism—um, balance of careful training and carefully, closely reading texts, but also cultural engagement. And I think that in this next season for the church, we need a generous spirit where we’re not just locked into one kind of branch of Evangelicalism, but learning to have that sort of generosity and…and unity that comes around Christ, even though there may be different particulars of outworking of doctrines that may look different. So I think that TEDS has been great. And Josh and Madison and Michelle Knight and others, I mean, y’all are awesome, so I’m happy to recommend students for you. So my hope, I mean, really, for TEDS, is that the floodgates would open and every student would just come and see how awesome y’all are. [LAUGHTER] And I would just affirm and hope that what I’d hope will remain central is this…this careful reading of the Scriptures that God has given us. And where I would hope that TEDS would continue to grow is how this intersects with encountering the living God. We have seen a lot of failures in Evangelicalism in the last however many years—moral and otherwise. And I think that shaping our character—real encounters with God, where we’re not just saying, “Hey, I did…I’ve out how to do exegesis,” or, “I’ve been able to trace…even trace from Old Testament to the New Testament.” I mean, those are great, but how about cultivating a spirit where you’re meditating and delighting on and obeying the God who’s speaking to you through those texts. So…so that’s where I would kind of encourage TEDS to go, but also the churches that these students are a part of. Um, to really invest their lives and their spiritual formation amidst their time of studying at TEDS, to kind of go along with what TEDS is doing. So that would be where my hope is for TEDS. I hope it keeps so international. That is such—it’s an amazing place, the international students y’all attract.

Pierce
Yeah. I love that.

Abernethy
Really proud to be an alum. And I got married in TEDS…uh, the chapel there on campus, too. [JIPP LAUGHS] So I’ve got a lot of…a lot of roads back to TEDS, so…

Jipp
Oh, that’s great.

Pierce
Love it. Well thank you.

Jipp
Well, thank you so much, Andy. It has been just our pleasure and delight to be able to have you on the podcast. Thanks for spending some time with us today.

Pierce
Yeah.

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Abernethy
Hey, it was great spending time with both of you, Madison and Josh.

Jipp
Alright, well that’s just the Foreword, everyone. Be sure to check out Andy’s work. For example, you can find a good resource for students, pastors, and scholars—if you’re looking for a good book on Isaiah, called The Book of Isaiah and God’s Kingdom, published with InterVarsity Press. Or, another book we talked about: check out his book co-authored with Greg Goswell—God’s Messiah in the Old Testament, published by Baker. And if you really loved the conversation, and you want to be like Andy, why not do what he did and come study here with us at TEDS? I want to thank you, Dr. Abernethy, for joining us today for a great conversation. Thanks, too, to my incredible co-host, Madison Pierce, and thanks to our listeners, of course. And a big thanks, as always, to our producer, Curtis Pierce. I want to thank our graduate assistant and friend, Lauren Januzik. Signing off now—I’m Josh Jipp.

Pierce
And I’m Madison Pierce. Thanks again, Andy. Bye, y’all.

Abernethy
See you.

Outro
Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The views expressed by the hosts and guests of Foreword do not necessarily represent the views of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

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