By Micah McIntyre
On Nov. 19, Wheaton will welcome two of the most recognized biblical scholars working today: NT Wright and Michael F. Bird. To promote their latest book, “The New Testament in its World,” Bird and Wright are touring the United States and attending speaking engagements around the country.
Wright has visited Wheaton in the past to speak in chapel and at conferences on-campus. According to Zondervan Academic’s website, his latest book focuses on the context of first-century Christianity.
“As a scholar and devout Christian, that’s at the center of [his mission]: to get people to engage the text seriously and deeply,” said Dean of the School of Biblical and Theological Studies David Lauber. “To have someone on campus with the academic scholarly reputation he has who is also devoted to the church and its mission is important for students to see.”
Lauber has been the lead faculty member in arranging the upcoming lecture. However, the event was in the works months before he got involved. Wheaton has connections to Wright through former Wheaton professor Nicholas Perrin, who worked for Wright for a number of years. Perrin began organizing the event last year before handing over the difficult task to Lauber.
“Schedule is the primary challenge both from our end and theirs,” said Lauber. “[Wright’s] a very busy man with many speaking engagements and we are a highly scheduled institution … so it’s not something that can come up on a whim. It has to be long term planning.”
The lecture will be free and open to the public, but the time slot allotted for the event is during the workday for many people outside the Wheaton community. Although Lauber believes that this may impact off-campus attendance, Office Coordinator Krista Sanchez reports that she has received more responses to the advertising from those outside the Wheaton community than students. Regardless of the turnout, Lauber encourages students, especially freshmen, to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I think it’s important for students who have read or are reading ‘Simply Christian’ in first-year seminar to see Wright in person,” he said. “Often times you read things on a page and gain some kind of impression of the author, but to actually see and hear someone speak can help inform the way you read the text.”