Longtime professor balances scholarship, teaching
Younts Professor of Bible and Religion Dr. William B. Evans, who has taught at Erskine College since 1993, takes teaching seriously, but along with classroom and mentoring work he spends time preparing papers and books for publication.
Evans, author of Imputation and Impartation: Union with Christ in American Reformed Theology (Paternoster, 2008), recently edited The Incarnate Word: Selected Writings on Christology, the fourth volume in the Mercersburg Theology Study Series published by Wipf & Stock in December 2014.
“When I write a book of my own I determine subject matter and structure of the material,” he said. “When I edit other people’s work, whether it be a collection of essays by a group of writers or a work by a single author, the agenda is to a great extent already set, and my task is more to present their work in the best possible way.
“In the case of the recent volume on Mercersburg Christology, I was dealing with writers who reflected deeply in their 19th-century context on the saving relationship between Christ and the Christian, and on the implications of that relationship for our understanding of the church and the Christian life.”
The longtime professor enjoys literary work, whether it’s writing, editing, or a combination of both.
“On the one hand, it is gratifying to be able to say something new and significant myself. On the other hand, it is tremendously satisfying to bring important texts from the past to a new audience.”
He describes his recent editing project, The Incarnate Word, as “multifaceted.”
“I had to establish the digital text from the original 19th-century publications, write annotations that would make the articles more understandable to a 21st-century audience,” he said, “and also write a general introduction that would orient the reader to the main issues, themes, and concerns of the authors.”
Far from taking anything away from his teaching, Evans believes research and writing enrich what he does in the classroom, providing “issues and concepts to discuss that might not occur to me otherwise.”
It works both ways.
“Classroom interaction also enriches my research and writing,” he said. “Student questions and feedback help me to hone my own understanding of issues.”
Evans offers a recent example of how this back-and-forth works.
“The content of my booklet What is the Incarnation? (published by P&R in 2013) arose out of my lectures on Christology in BR325-Christian Theology here at Erskine College,” he said. “And now I get to require my students in BR325 to read it, so it’s come full circle!”
Perhaps a professor’s academic pursuits might inspire students to give graduate school a try. Whether or not Evans’ writing and editing influence his students in that way, he is happy to point out that “a significant number of our Bible and religion graduates have gone on for further academic work.”
Many have gone to seminary, and Erskine alums are “making a positive contribution through their work in pastoral ministry, youth ministry, and on the mission field,” reflecting well on Erskine’s efforts with undergraduates.
“The consistent comment that I hear from such graduates is that they were very well prepared for seminary work by their Bible and religion major at Erskine College.”
In addition to Imputation and Impartation: Union with Christ in American Reformed Theology (Paternoster, 2008), which is an extensive revision of his 1996 dissertation for the Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University, Evans has written numerous articles on Reformed Christology, ecclesiology, and Mercersburg Theology. His latest article is “The Mercersburg Christology and Reformed Ressourcement,” published in Theology Today.
Dr. Bill Evans has taught at Erskine College for 22 years and was installed in 2003 as Eunice Bell Younts and Willie Camp Younts Professor of Bible and Religion. The Younts Professorship was established in 1973 by Dr. Charles R. Younts in memory of his mother, Eunice Younts, and in honor of his wife, Willie Younts, “to ensure that the Bible will always be taught at Erskine College in such a way that students will be led to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior.” He and his wife Fay have a son, daughter, and daughter-in-law.