Gowler book published by Oxford University Press
May 03, 2012
In 1987 David Gowler, now Pierce Professor of Religion and director of the Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Engagement at Oxford College, was a student at Jesus College, Cambridge University, where he studied with Christopher Rowland, then a lecturer in New Testament. From that student-professor relationship sprang a friendship formed over the past 25 years, one that has resulted in numerous scholarly contributions.
The latest is a festschrift (a German term that literally means "celebration writing," usually denoting a collection of writings published in honor of an individual) edited by Gowler and written in honor of Rowland, who is now Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture at Oxford University. Radical Christian Voices and Practice: Essays in Honour of Christopher Rowland was published by Oxford University Press earlier this year and just released in the United States.
Besides editing the volume, Gowler also contributed one of the essays, a treatise on Jesus' healing of a disabled woman in Luke 13. Other contributors include Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and theologians from Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale as well as Rowland himself. Gowler's co-editor on the project is Zoë Bennett, director of postgraduate studies in pastoral theology at the Cambridge Theological Federation.
Gowler says, "This festschrift was designed to honor the depth and breadth of Chris Rowland's scholarship, but we also crafted it to reflect his humanity and his radical passion for liberation, justice, and equality that stems from an ethical response to and critique of biblical texts."
A collaboration between Gowler and Rowland has had a special effect on Oxford College. In 2004 Rowland attended an international conference in Atlanta. Gowler invited the don to come to Oxford College to lecture, and afterward it occurred to Gowler that an exchange of scholars from "the two Oxfords" could be a permanent program sponsored by the Pierce Institute. He and Rowland began working on the idea in their respective institutions. Arrangements were finalized in 2005, when an official agreement establishing the Pierce Visiting Scholar Program was signed by the provost of Emory University and the vice-chancellor of Oxford University.
Each year the Pierce Institute designates one faculty member from Oxford University and one from Oxford College as Pierce Visiting Scholars. The Oxford University scholar comes to Oxford College during the academic year for at least one week, giving public lectures, usually on both the Oxford and Atlanta campuses; teaching classes and meeting with groups of students and faculty. His or her Oxford College counterpart serves as on-campus host during the stay and in turn travels to Oxford University for lectures and teaching, hosted by the Oxford University designee.
In June, Gowler will trace a similar journey. He will be in Oxford for a celebration of Rowland's birthday and an official unveiling of the festschrift.