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New Testament scholar Swartley to give Bible Lectures at Bethel

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A noted New Testament scholar and long-time professor at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., will give three Bible Lectures at Bethel College, Nov. 5-6.

Willard Swartley, professor emeritus of New Testament at AMBS, is the author of Slavery, Sabbath, War and Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation (Herald Press, 1983), the principal text for this year’s Bethel senior capstone course Basic Issues of Faith and Life.

“Each of Swartley’s lectures will focus on books he has written, including one that is forthcoming,” noted Bethel professor of Bible and religion Patricia Shelly.

On Sunday, Nov. 5, Swartley’s lecture “The New Testament as Covenant of Peace: Ecclesial and Public Theology?” draws on his latest book, Covenant of Peace. On Monday, Nov. 6, he will speak in convocation at 11 a.m. on “Slavery, Sabbath, War and Women Revisited.” Monday evening’s lecture, “The Bible and Israel: Two Views and More,” is a chapter from a book to be published in 2007. The lectures are at 7:30 p.m., 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. respectively, all in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center and all free and open to the public.

In addition to teaching New Testament, Swartley also served as academic dean at AMBS 1979-81 and 1995-2000 and as director of the Institute of Mennonite Studies (IMS), located at AMBS, from 1980-88. He is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va., and Goshen (Ind.) Biblical Seminary (now part of AMBS) and earned his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Swartley has been a Bible teacher in congregational settings and church-wide conferences, both in North America and overseas, with special interests in the Gospels, the peace teachings of the Bible and biblical interpretation. Swartley has been New Testament editor for the Believers Church Bible Commentary Series (Herald Press) and for the Studies in Peace and Scripture (IMS). He has taught at Goshen (Ind.) College; Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont.; EMU, where he also served as interim dean 1976-77; and Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg.

In addition to Slavery, Sabbath, War and Women, Swartley is the author of Mark: The Way for All Nations (Herald Press, 1979, rev. 1981); Israel’s Scripture Traditions and the Synoptic Gospels: Story Shaping Story (Hendrickson, 1994); Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment (Herald Press, 2003); and Covenant of Peace: The Missing Peace in New Testament Theology and Ethics (Eerdmans, 2006). He is editor of Essays on Biblical Interpretation: Anabaptist Mennonite Perspectives (IMS, 1984), Love of Enemy and Non-retaliation in the New Testament (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992) and Violence Renounced: René Girard, Biblical Studies and Peacemaking (Pandora Press U.S., 2000), and co-editor with Perry B. Yoder of The Meaning of Peace (W/JKP, 1992, rev. 2001) and with Donald Kraybill of Building Communities of Compassion (Herald Press, 1998).

Swartley is married to Mary (Lapp) Swartley. They have two grown children and six grandchildren. They live in Elkhart and are members of Belmont Mennonite Church.

The Bible Lecture Series has been part of Bethel College since 1914. Since 1951, the series has been endowed by the Hartzler Foundation, established by Dr. and Mrs. John Ellsworth Hartzler. J.E. Hartzler was president of Bethel College from 1920-21 and was himself a Bible Lecturer in 1961. The lectures relate to subjects of general biblical, historical, theological and philosophical interest and, since 1990, have been given every two years.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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