Dr. Matthew Emerson, dean of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, delivered the annual Hobbs Lecture during online chapel services Wednesday, Nov. 11.
The Herschel H. and Frances J. Hobbs Lectureship in Baptist Faith and Heritage was OBU's first endowed lectureship beginning in fall 1980. It is one of four OBU lectureships designed to help students grow in their knowledge of Baptist theology, Baptist history and studies of the Bible.
Friends of the late Dr. Hobbs, who was pastor of First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, and of the late Mrs. Hobbs, created the endowed fund in honor of the couple’s years of outstanding Christian service. The Hobbs Lectureship program annually sponsors a lecture at OBU and highlights speakers that share phases of Baptist faith and heritage with the OBU community. OBU's Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry also bears his name.
Emerson delivered his lecture on Benjamin Keach’s use of the Old Testament. Keach was a Particular Baptist who lived in England in the seventeenth century prior to the Enlightenment.
“Keach’s writings exhibit a model of Baptist life that has since been largely lost, a mode that still gave explicit credit to the early and medieval Christian tradition and one that was influenced by premodern exegetical methods, as well as by Renaissance, Reformation and early modern sentiments,” Emerson said. “Exploration of his interpretive method, and particularly his use of the Old Testament, will give us insight into how the earliest Baptists viewed scripture and its proper interpretation.”
Emerson argued that Keach used the Old Testament in distinctive ways, including catholic, reformational and Baptist modes of interpretation.
“Each of these modes arise from a commitment to Scripture as the Spirit-inspired Word of God, given to and for the people of God, throughout space and time,” Emerson said.
In addition to his role as dean of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, Emerson is also the Floyd K. Clark Chair of Christian Leadership, a professor of religion and Master of Arts director. Emerson earned a Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University. He then earned both his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before coming to OBU in 2015, Emerson taught at California Baptist University, where he also served as chair of the Arts and Sciences Department in the OPS Division.
Emerson has authored or co-authored 20 publications. He serves as co-executive director of the Center for Baptist Renewal, co-editor of the “Journal of Baptist Studies,” steering committee member of the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar, and senior fellow for the Center of Ancient Christian Studies.