New professor for Old Testament

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Derek SudermanThere’s a new generation of professors at Conrad Grebel University College. With several current professors approaching retirement, the college has been making an effort to hire a younger faculty.

Derek Suderman is the most recent appointment. He will teach religious studies, specializing in the Old Testament and fill the gap left when John Miller retired in 1993. He will also be the only Old Testament professor currently at the University of Waterloo.

No stranger to Grebel, Suderman lived at Grebel in 1990-1991 and studied there as an undergraduate - BA 1996 in History, with a Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) option - as a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) student (2000), and as a doctoral student at the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre, an affiliate of the Toronto School of Theology. Suderman commented:

I am very excited to return to Grebel. I was challenged and inspired by professors there, and hope to do the same.

Jim Pankratz, Grebel’s Academic Dean, said,

We are delighted to welcome Derek to our faculty. His enthusiasm for teaching the Old Testament and his wide experience in the university, the global church and the justice and peace-making systems of our world, make him an excellent addition to our academic program and the Grebel community.

With plans to graduate from St. Michael’s University College at the University of Toronto this fall with a PhD in Old Testament, Suderman’s areas of specialization include Psalms and Hebrew poetry, wisdom literature, pre-exilic prophecy, and the synoptic gospels. His thesis is entitled “The Social ‘You’ of the Psalter: Second Person Address in Individual Lament Psalms”. Suderman has already published in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the Canadian Mennonite and the Canadian Mennonite Encyclopedia On-Line, and has taught at Emmanuel College as well as Conrad Grebel’s MTS program.

Beyond his scholarly achievements, Suderman has been a mediation trainer for JustaPaz in Bogota Colombia, a community service worker for the John Howard Society in Manitoba, a Youth Conflict Resolution Trainer in Waterloo, a Peace Evangelist for the Mennonite Church, and he currently serves on the editorial Council of the Believer's Church Bible Commentary Series.

As a student, Suderman thoroughly enjoyed the interdisciplinary aspect of living and studying at Grebel and wants to continue such interaction with students as well as other faculty. He is particularly excited about the PACS program at Grebel since

it provides a unique opportunity to link elements of ‘religious studies’ to concrete justice/peace issues.

Suderman is also attracted to Grebel’s commitment to providing learning opportunities abroad. Having grown up in Bolivia, volunteered with a Colombian justice and peace organization and attended the Mennonite Seminary there, Suderman knows the value of international experiences and will encourage students to look for such possibilities in the world.

Suderman is also excited to teach in the MTS program.

I have personally experienced the academic strength of this program, which provided a solid base and broad perspective for my own doctoral work. More importantly, I believe the most essential element for a healthy church is its people, and I look forward to participating in the task of developing leaders to resource the church. While committed to an Anabaptist/Mennonite perspective, I have also benefited significantly from inter-denominational discussion and welcome this aspect of the graduate program.

Noting this link, President Henry Paetkau said,

Derek is rooted deeply in both the academy and the church. Both will be greatly enriched through his lively engagement with the Scriptures and the world.

Suderman said,

In short, Grebel’s setting as a denominational college on the campus of a rigorous research university reflects the important task of relating church and academy. I look forward to teaching the Bible in both a non-confessional ‘religious studies’ vein as well as in a setting where this is explicitly recognized as an essential aspect of church life. Both approaches have their place, and Grebel provides a unique opportunity for maintaining this constructive tension without collapsing either one into the other. It will certainly be a challenge, but one which I relish and believe to be extremely important. For this reason I really couldn’t imagine a better place to be.

Suderman is married to Rebecca Seiling, a University of Waterloo graduate student in religious studies. They have a daughter, Zoe. In his spare time, Suderman enjoys playing games and sports, making regular trips to the zoo with Zoe, and traveling abroad, especially to Latin America. He also enjoys playing guitar and “plucking away” on his banjo, as well as reading fiction.

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