18 December 2018 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Theology International Vistors
Guest speakers, Prof and Dr deClaissé-Walford, with Prof Fanie Snyman and Dr Lodewyk Sutton at the ‘Unheard voices’ Bible conference in Bloemfontein.

What leads theologians from as far afield as the USA and the Netherlands to visit Bloemfontein? A shared interest in the UFS Faculty of Theology and Religion.

American guests

In March, two renowned theologians visited the faculty: Prof Thomas Long, whose book The Witness of Preaching is used the world over in teaching homiletics, and his wife, Dr Kimberly Long, editor of the journal Call to Worship. Their two-day visit comprised sessions with congregation preachers, staff, and students, concluding with a panel discussion encompassing their decades-long experience.

In April, Dr Lodewyk Sutton facilitated a conference with another husband-and-wife team, guest speakers Prof Nancy L deClaissé-Walford and Dr Steve deClaissé-Walford, from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Papers from this conference, themed ‘Unheard voices’ in the Bible, will form part of a supplementum in the peer-reviewed journal Acta Theologica.

European visitors

In February 2018, Prof Chris Hermans, a pastoral theologian from Radboud University, wowed master’s and PhD students during a research-focused workshop. He further presented a public lecture with the theme Spiritual transformation: To be formed, re-formed, and beyond form. Prof Hermans compared this process to that of larval metamorphosis, saying: “This transforming of oneself is necessary to become a person desirable to God.”

The International Colloquium for the Study of the New Testament (ICSNT) convened in May, with the aim of pursuing joint research projects between South African New Testament scholars and overseas scholars. Profs Jan van der Watt (University of Nijmegen) and Francois Tolmie (UFS) are co-chairs of the ICSNT. Scholars from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and South Africa presented papers at this conference. And flying south from winter in his hemisphere, German theologian, Prof Werner Kelber, presented his work The Bible as Millennial Medium History in September. Prof Kelber’s research focus is the oral culture of the Biblical narrative. 

Bidding farewell to Prof Fanie

As a fitting farewell to the outgoing Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, Prof Fanie Snyman, for his many years of service to the UFS and the larger faith communities, a biblical conference was held on 28 November 2018, which was attended by several preeminent theologians from the European continent, along with their South African counterparts.