James W. Thompson: Malherbe Plenary Lecturer at the 2022 CSC

November 10, 2021

James W. Thompson

We are delighted to announce that James W. Thompson will deliver the eighth annual Abraham J. Malherbe plenary address at the Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholars’ Conference, June 8 – 10, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

James is Scholar in Residence in the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University and editor of Restoration Quarterly. He is the author of numerous articles and books on the Pauline correspondence and the Epistle to the Hebrews. His MA thesis, completed in 1965, was the first thesis directed by Abe Malherbe.

James’ presentation, “The Groaning and Redemption of Creation: Does Paul Speak to the Environmental Crisis?” will grow out of his academic expertise in New Testament studies and Romans 8, with an interdisciplinary appeal related to the conference theme.

His abstract claims, “In response to the ecological crisis, interpreters have mined New Testament texts for passages relevant to environmental issues, turning most frequently to Paul’s description of the groaning of creation in Romans 8:19-22. While Paul’s major concern is the transformation of a united humanity, the salvation that he envisions is cosmic in scope. Since both the creation and believers share in the sufferings of this age and the hope of transformation, believers now express their solidarity with creation, taking ethical responsibility for the care of the earth.”

James is the perfect choice to honor Professor Malherbe’s legacy through the plenary. He will advance the trajectories of excellence set forth by the early Malherbe speakers and be true to the conference’s mission: to create and nurture an intellectual and Christian community, joining individuals and institutions to stimulate networks of scholarly dialogue and collaboration.

The Malherbe plenary address, endowed by generous gifts from students and friends, was inaugurated in 2014 with Carl Holladay’s lecture. In subsequent years Phillip Jenkins (2015), Michael Sandel (2016), Greg Sterling (2017), Cilliers Breytenbach (2018) and John Fitzgerald (2019) have made exceptional contributions to this rich tradition. In 2021 the Malherbe Plenary took on a modified debate format, with Raymond Carr, Amanda Pittman, Carl Holladay and Richard Hughes engaging in spirited discourse.

This year, with Greg Sterling moderating questions and answers following James’ presentation, we expect to continue the tradition of substantive and civil engagement.