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Stephen Chester

Lord and Lady Coggan Professor of New Testament

BA (University of York)

PhD in New Testament (University of Glasgow), BD (University of Glasgow)

Biography

Growing up, my faith in Christ was nurtured in a Christian home (I was born in Liverpool, but the second half of my childhood and my teenage years were in North Wales) but there were also important experiences as a young adult which further shaped that faith and helped to set future directions in life. After completing my undergraduate studies (in History), I went to Glasgow in Scotland for a year as a volunteer worker with a local church in a neighborhood experiencing poverty and multiple other social problems. The witness of the congregation and their deep commitment to serving their community in Christ’s name made a strong impression on me and was the start of my own sense of call to ministry. I also met my wife Betsy, who was teaching in the local school.

That developing sense of call soon lead me to pursue theological studies (at the University of Glasgow) and eventually, ordination (with the Church of Scotland). But during the program I became gripped by biblical studies and by the end [of the Bachelor of Divinity degree] I wanted to do a doctorate. Completing the doctorate in turn led to a position teaching New Testament at International Christian College in Glasgow (1999-2006) and to the realization that my ministry was going to be primarily through teaching and research.

At that stage we expected to be in Scotland for the rest of our lives, but a new opportunity came in a surprising place at North Park Theological Seminary (the seminary of the Evangelical Covenant Church) in Chicago. It was a big transition as a family (our sons Iain and Mark were then 13 and 10) but solutions were provided to whatever obstacles stood in the way and we came to the realization that moving to Chicago was the right next step for us. North Park became a place of blessing for us in too many ways to number. I served there for thirteen years (2006-2019), including a spell as Academic Dean.

In 2019 an opportunity opened up here at Wycliffe College, and so there was another significant transition to a new context. I am excited about the opportunities at Wycliffe to be involved in the education of students for ministry and in the forming of future scholars. I am deeply convinced that if the Church is to be faithful in ministry and mission it must be Church shaped by and dependent upon Scripture as God’s Word.

Areas of Expertise

  • Pauline Epistles and Theology
  • History of Reception (especially the era of the Reformation)
  • Theological Interpretation of Scripture
  • Conversion in the Ancient World

Select Publications and Media:

Books

Reading Paul with the Reformers: Reconciling Old and New Perspectives (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017)

Perspectives on our Struggle with Sin: Three Views of Romans 7 (with Grant R. Osborne, Mark A. Seifrid, and Chad O. Brand; Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2011)

Conversion at Corinth: Perspectives on Conversion in Paul’s Theology and the Corinthian Church (London & New York: T&T Clark International, 2003)

Other

On Script Podcast (an hour long interview recorded in 2018 about Reading Paul with the Reformers): https://onscript.study/podcast/stephen-chester-reading-paul-with-the-reformers/

“Interpreting the Bible and Changing the World: The Phenomenon of Martin Luther,” in The Expository Times 129.1 (2017), 3-13.

“Conversion” in Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Theology Vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 148-51.

“Apocalyptic Union: Martin Luther’s Account of Faith in Christ,” in In Christ in Paul (ed. M. J. Thate, K. Vanhoozer, and C. Campbell; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), 375-98.

“Faith Working through Love (Gal. 5:6): The Role of Human Deeds in Salvation in Luther and Calvin’s Exegesis,” in Doing Theology for the Church: Essays in Honor of Klyne Snodgrass (ed. R.A. Eklund and J.E. Phelan; Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2014), 41-54.

“Paul and the Galatian Believers,” in The Blackwell Companion to Paul (ed. S. Westerholm; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2011).

“Romans 7 and Conversion in the Protestant Tradition,” in Ex Auditu Vol. 25 (2010), 135-71.

“It is no longer I who live: Justification by Faith and Participation in Christ in Martin Luther’s Exegesis of Galatians,” in New Testament Studies 55.3 (2009), 315-37.

“Who is Freedom for? Martin Luther and Alain Badiou on Paul and Politics” in Paul, Grace and Freedom: Essays in Honor of J.K. Riches (ed. P. Middleton, A. Paddison, and K. Wennell; London and New York: T&T Clark International, 2009), 95-118.

”When the Old Was New: Reformation Perspectives on Galatians 2:16” in The Expository Times 119.7 (2008), 320-29.

“Paul and the Introspective Conscience of Martin Luther: The Impact of Luther’s Anfechtungen on his Interpretation of Paul” in Biblical Interpretation 14.5 (2006), 508-36.

“Paul: Archetypal Convert and Disputed Convert” in Finding and Losing Faith: Studies in Conversion (ed. C. Partridge and H. Reid; Carlisle: Paternoster Press, Religion and Culture Series, 2006), 123-49.

“Divine Madness? Speaking in Tongues in 1 Cor. 14:23” in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 27.4 (2005), 417-46.