Launch Speech – Prof Diane Speed
SCD Centre for Gospels and Acts Research Launch Speech, 28 September 2017
SCD has as its motto ‘excellence in theological education’. For SCD, striving for academic excellence and striving to build up the Christian community go hand in hand. This twofold concern will be clearly reflected in the new Centre for Gospels and Acts Research.
Centres of Excellence are a normal feature of universities with serious research intentions. But, along with its academic goals, any decent university will also be concerned with training its students to contribute usefully and ethically to society and modelling this ideal through its staff. For a Christian institution of Higher Education, and a theological provider in particular, this second goal means training students to grow in Christian understanding and help build up the church, in its fullest sense, as well as encouraging its staff to pursue their own Christian calling in an exemplary way.
Academically speaking, SCD embraces the ideal of research-led teaching and the value of making an original contribution to knowledge in the discipline and the teaching of it.
In this context, the Centre for Gospels and Acts Research may be expected to provide a special encouragement to faculty and senior students to engage in research in the Gospels and Acts, books that are central to the discipline of Biblical Studies, and to share their interests and discoveries in classes, conferences, and publications.
We hope that more of our students will be inspired to undertake coursework in the Gospel area and, in some cases, proceed to actual research in the area. All students studying the Gospels and Acts should gain a sound basis for Christian work in the world and, for some, form an ongoing academic engagement.
A key part of the Centre’s work will be the publication of its journal, JGAR, the Journal of Gospels and Act Research, by our own SCD Press, whose first volume is in press and about to appear. The Centre will also organize both public and more intimate occasions for scholars from within SCD and the wider theological world to share the fruits of, and their hopes for, their research.
There has not been such a Centre in Australia to this point and no such Gospel-specific journal in the world. Because it embraces the good of both academe and Christian koinonia, the Centre should provide a lead in both academic and Christian terms both nationally and internationally.
One particular observation I’d like to make is that the prospect of the Centre’s success is significantly strengthened by the ecumenicity of SCD. SCD espouses an intentional ecumenicity that goes beyond mere polite cooperation. The very fact that scholars associated with the Centre will come from a wide range of Christian traditions from the outset increases the prospect of particularly rich exchanges, which, we hope, will be further enhanced by the participation of the wider theological world as time goes by. The Centre will also function as a setting in which the development of team projects may be facilitated.
The Bible itself is, of course, the foundational text of Christianity in that it tells us about the foundational cause of that text, the Word made flesh, and the Gospels and Acts anchor the Christological meaning of the Bible for Christians. It is therefore not surprising that scholars from different Christian backgrounds can hope to work together enthusiastically and fruitfully in this area of particularly central concern.
I do want to congratulate Peter Bolt, SCD’s Academic Director, on his initiative in creating the Centre, and to thank our other colleagues who have given such active support to the endeavour thus far.
I wish those immediately involved in this new Centre of Excellence and all of us every success with the various projects it will promote.
Diane Speed, SCD Dean and CEO