If you have come to this page to find out about me, I guess it is OK to talk about myself. But I am English, so I'm not very good at this kind of thing.
A short biography:
My home town is Brighton, on the south coast of England. It is the San Francisco of the UK, with beautiful surrounding countryside, changeable weather, a stony beach, and a cosmopolitan population.
My church background is an independent (i.e. small) evangelical church with Pentecostal leanings. I became a Christian at about 12. I learned the Bible by attending a Brethren Bible study for several years. I have also been a member of Baptist and Anglican churches while living in different towns.
My chosen profession was medicine, but God had different plans. I knew even in my school years that, rather like Jonah, I did not want to be a church minister. After failing 40 university examinations, my medical school and I decided that I wasn't going to make it. I followed several other short term 'professions' before I gave in and went to a seminary.
I graduated from the South Wales Baptist College in Cardiff with the highest marks in the history of that college and my Principal wanted me to do a PhD. I was uncertain whether this would be running away from the ministry, so I said I would only apply to Cambridge, and if they didn't take me, I wouldn't go. God had mercy on my youthful foolishness.
At Cambridge University I set out to study Paul's use of the OT in the light of ancient Jewish interpretation in NT times. I found that no-one had done the groundwork in rabbinic literature, so I ended up studying the early rabbinic exegesis, which I contrasted with the later rabbis. This is published as Techniques and Assumptions in Jewish Exegesis Before 70 CE. Vol.30 of Texte und Studien zum Antiken Judentum, (Mohr & Siebeck, Tübingen, 1992).
For five years I was Assistant Minister and then Minister at Llanishen Baptist Church in Cardiff. This is a suburban church of about 200 members, which is largish in the UK. The church allowed me one day a week for research and one week a year for conferences, which helped me to keep up with the academic world.
My hobby is computer programming. I have written a number of programs for my own use, and sold a few. My Hebrew word processor wrote from right-to-left long before Microsoft or Apple achieved this and it was widely used in British synagogues and universities. I can now pursue this as part of my job is to develop the STEP software.
Tyndale House approached me to be their Research Librarian because of my dual skills in computers and academic biblical studies. The Ministry Department of the Baptist Union encouraged me, saying that the academic world was an important area of work for Baptist Ministers. After a few years Tyndale House gave me more time to spend on research by making me a Research Fellow and Technical Officer. Tyndale House is (arguably) among the three best libraries in the world in the area of Biblical Studies (alongside the École Biblique in Jerusalem and the Pontifical Institute in Rome) so I am very privileged to work there.
Divorcees often came to me when I was a Baptist pastor because they could not get remarried in their Anglican or Catholic church. This forced me to look again at the scriptural foundations of the church teaching on this issue. In the light of my Jewish studies, the NT presented a very different picture to the one which most scholars had previously seen. During a five year period at Tyndale House I produced several academic papers and a large academic book on the subject. I have followed this up with a summary booklet for the Grove Biblical series and a book on divorce and pastoral issues for general readers.
I am now engaged on a project to identify and elucidate all the rabbinic traditions which can be dated before 70 CE. This applies dating techniques which have been established by rabbinic scholars during the last thirty years. It will be published by Eerdmans and has been coming out, one volume at a time, from early 2003. This will help NT scholars rediscover rabbinic texts which have been neglected due to uncertainties about dating.
A software project called STEP (Scripture Tools for Every Person - see www.StepBible.com) is now taking a great deal of my time, but I don't mind because it is such a huge benefit, especially to the under-resourced world. Chris Burrell and myself want to get the expertise of Tyndale scholars into the hands of everyone, with easy-to-understand interfaces. It is very rewarding work.
I also do a lot of 'popular' writing - regular articles in Christianity magazine (the largest UK cross-denominational magazine) and occasional books (eg www.BibleScandals.com). I find this style of writing challenging, because I'm an academic at heart, but a good friend edits my style ferociously and makes it very reader-friendly.
See my Tyndale staff page for my publications list.
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