Dr. Johnson Announces the Launch of The Center for Hebraic Thought
The King’s College has announced the launch of the new Center for Hebraic Thought (CHT) directed by Dr. Dru Johnson last Monday.
Johnson, associate professor of biblical and theological studies at The King’s College, says the center is meant to gather people to engage inside and outside the church.
“Most people do not realize how much they have been impacted by the Hebrew Bible through the New Testament into the West,” Johnson said. “[The center will] help people understand why it’s better for them to look at the Hebrew Bible as an intellectual world.”
Johnson notes that some people acknowledge that the Bible has its own philosophy and intellectual world, but stop caring beyond that because they do not identify as “religious”. He argues that it is worth understanding for everyone.
“[The Hebraic Bible] will still help you discover why the West is the way it is and the big impact it has. It has had a bigger impact than any other collection of literature in history,” Johnson said.
The project first began when they received the grant in January. The team working from inside King’s is small, including Senior Abigail Smith runs administration for CHT.
The nature of the center is to promote biblical literacy and according to Smith, the state of biblical literacy is “abysmal” right now.
“People do not know how to read the Bible, even from church backgrounds,” Smith said. “So, I think this offers a lot of strength to our religious and theological studies major but also to the core curriculum. Being able to come out of King’s as Christians who are stronger in their ability to read the Bible.”
CHT is the only institution of its kind to be launched, other than one of their partner institutions, The Herzl Institute, where Johnson also works as an associate director.
“I predict that it will be the case within 10 years that you will be able to go into a philosophy department, whether they are public universities or atheist, or private Christian or Catholic, they are going to be teaching the Hebrew Bible as philosophy,” Johnson said.
The center is in partnership with the Philos Project, The American Bible Society, The Herzl Institute and Theopolis Institute. For students, there will be lectures and events throughout the year put on by the center.
Johnson hopes CHT will grow over time through bringing in resident scholars, creating funded reading groups, hosting conferences and workshops for pastors, scholars and laypersons and involving King’s professors in thinking more about Hebraic thought in their own areas of expertise.
“The point is the payoff in the church and in the streets,” Johnson said. “The goal is not that people will study the Bible as philosophy — it is actually that people will read scripture more closely and hear how God wants us to think about the world. God is trying to push people towards wisdom, and I am convinced that your average church-goer cannot become wise unless they understand how scripture thinks about things. If you reduce it to oracles or commands that you either follow or you break, you are eternally separated from what God is wanting to do.”