Tuesday, 2 October 2007

A new chair of theology

As you might know, dogmatic theology is all but non-existent here in Australia. So it’s impressive to see that The University of Newcastle is establishing a new professorship, the Morpeth Chair of Theology – and it looks as though some sort of theology discipline will be organised around this chair.

Applicants for this senior position are welcome “from any relevant sub-discipline, with preference for [wait for it...] systematic or dogmatic theology.” Details of the position can be downloaded here.

18 Comments:

michael jensen said...

Wow... are you going to apply? I think you would be a good candidate!

Ben Myers said...

No, not me -- I'm far too young, and in any case I've already got the world's most enjoyable job!

michael jensen said...

Well, for overseas people: Newcastle is a town of about 200,000 people, a former steel city, 2 hours north of Sydney. Great lifestyle, real estate prices very reasonable, a university with a pretty good reputation, and you would be just about the only Professor of Theology proper in the whole country. Seriously. I wonder what the catch is? putting up with us Sydney Anglicans perhaps...

Terry said...

I'm intrigued; what is the state of academic theology in Australia?

michael jensen said...

um...

you are reading it now.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Terry: "the state of academic theology in Australia" -- as Michael points out, there's really no such state.

Of course, we have excellent scholars in related disciplines (biblical studies, early Christianity, church history, etc) -- but "theology" in the strict sense (i.e. dogmatics) is as rare as flying emus.

michael jensen said...

There's a historical reason for this: in the mid 19th cent the founder of our great universities, (Sydney and Melbourne), William Charles Wentworth, insisted on theology being kept out of the new institutions as much as possible. Coupled with this, Australia was (as now) pretty evenly split along Catholic/Protestant lines, and I think probably one wouldn't have liked the other to gain control of such a thing. It seems to me that without strong denominational support, chairs of theology probably won't exist.
What's your take, Ben? Is this fair dinkum?

Michael F. Bird said...

Ben,
I order you to apply for the New Castle job. Don't you make me come down there. Cause if I have to, I will tie you to a chair and read to you several consecutive chapters from Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology and to make matters even more painful for you, I will do it a very bad cockney accent (reminiscent of Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins).

Bruce Yabsley said...

you are reading it now.

:-)

I hope they get a decent field of applicants for this post: any experienced expatriates looking to come home to Australia ...?

kim fabricius said...

I believe that the late Revd. Dr. John O'Neill (who was a minister in the Presbyterian and then the United Reformed Church, UK) taught biblical studies for a while in Oz. He was known as a conservative doctrinal theologian but radical NT scholar. Indeed he argued that half of Romans was deutero-Pauline (the Septuagintal texts, for example, suggesting inauthenticity). Hence O'Neill's students at Cambridge referred to his commentary on the Postcard to the Romans.

michael jensen said...

Oh, we've had our theologians (though more biblical scholars). Fr John Coffey is a well known RC theologian. Former Anglican Abp of Perth Peter Carnley usually rates an honourable mention as a progressive academic theologian, though his later work has been more aggressively polemical...

So, Professor Myers: what say you?

Ben Myers said...

Yes Michael, I agree: the historical separation of theology from our universities has a lot to do with it. So anyway, let's hope there are some good applicants for this chair.

And Mike Bird, your mention of Wayne Grudem brings to mind the positive aspect of "theology in Australia": where there is no theology, there is also no bad theology!

JoBloggs said...

Newcastle has some good religious history happening - particularly Hilary Carey, who has written one of the few histories of religion in Australia. That could make for some productive inter-disciplinary collaboration - I hope!

andrewE said...

Michael, how about you?

Or Ben – seriously, think about it. It'd be great.

michael jensen said...

[do really think a person with surname and background has a snowflakes chance in Newcastle, notwithstanding complete lack of qualifications?!!]

byron smith said...

Go for it Ben. It would mean I wouldn't have to travel so far to do a PhD with you.

Michael J. Pailthorpe said...

This does sound promising. A bit of a drive though.

jamesh said...

looks like someone beat you to it:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/news/2008/09/foundationchairoftheologyannounced.html

i've read his work, he is a very insightful thinker indeed.

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