On Wednesday, December 9, 2009, Professor Calvin Roetzel, Sundet Chair in New Testament and Christian Studies, gave his final classroom lecture as a University of Minnesota professor, culminating a long career as an internationally recognized New Testament and Pauline scholar. Students and colleagues, former and current, gathered alongside members of the community to honor Professor Roetzel as he shared how his thoughts on the figure of Paul have changed over the course of his 4forty-two-year teaching career.
Cameron Ferguson, current graduate student in Classical and Near Eastern Studies, Religions in Antiquity, and an advisee of Professor Roetzel, shares his appreciation for the lecture, Professor Roetzel's career, and his impact as a teacher and mentor.
It is difficult to lay adequate value or meaning upon Professor Calvin Roetzel's final classroom lecture as a University of Minnesota employee, and quite likely his final lecture under the full-time employ of any university. Roetzel taught for over forty years and established himself as one of the top New Testament and Pauline scholars in the world. His introductory textbook on Paul--The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context--has become the definitive manual used by instructors throughout the country for introducing their students to the itinerant apostle.
Professor Roetzel's final lecture focused on how his views on Paul have changed over the course of his distinguished career. For example, he discussed Paul as an organic intellectual. Paul's perceptions on community, theology, teaching, and law--these are not static entities--are changed and adapted as Paul is confronted with new circumstances and challenges. Perhaps more importantly, Roetzel discussed at length Paul's revolutionary rethinking of the crucifixion, an image intended to provoke fear and revulsion in the minds of the ancients. For Paul, the cross became a symbol of strength and suffering, a mark of discipleship.
Watch the full video of Roetzel's final classroom lecture, including heartfelt questions from colleagues, at: http://religiousstudies.umn.edu/events/?entry=221083
Following the lecture students and colleagues gathered for a reception, sharing stories and experiences with old friends. Special acknowledgment was given to Ann Lewis for introducing Roetzel's lecture, Professor Douglas Olson for his role in luring Roetzel to his position as the Sundet Chair in New Testament and Christian Studies, and Professor Bernard Levinson, Jeanne Kilde, and the religious studies staff for donating time and resources to the occasion.