Scholar’s dream to revive Old Testament for the Middle East
Langham Scholar Emad Botros is currently completing his doctoral work at McMaster Divinity College, Canada.
Emad and his wife Almess are also global field staff to Lebanon with Canadian Baptist Ministries. An important part of that work is Emad’s teaching position at Beirut’s Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), where Emad is helping to shape a new generation of Bible teachers in the area of Old Testament and Islamic studies. ABTS receives grants for books as a member of the Langham Literature programme. Emad is also developing culturally relevant and appropriate resources and models for ministry to be used in the Middle Eastern/North African context.
“My dream is to revive the message of the Old Testament in the life of the ABTS students and the church,” says Emad, “and to help Christians as they make the message of the Old Testament relevant to our Middle Eastern context today.” Emad’s doctoral work at McMaster, made possible through Langham Partnership supporters, will help him achieve those goals. “What is unique about ABTS is that it is the only regional seminary where non-Christians can study,” explains Emad. “You know how much we love the Arab people, and we are thrilled to see that many of them are now identified as followers of Jesus Christ. It is our desire now to disciple and to equip those followers of Christ for ministry.”
Emad, what is your exact area of study?
I am focusing on Old Testament studies, with major focus on reading the Bible from the Islamic context.
What do you think is the greatest need of the Church in your home country?
I am an Egyptian who serves as a Global Field Staff in Lebanon at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. In my response to this question, I will talk more about the whole MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Region. Due to the lack of Arab resources, the church relied more on Western materials to meet its need, and thus adopted more translated Western theology. While this type of theology has been a great help for some time, it lacks a sincere engagement with the Arab-Islamic context.
This reality was noticed by many Arab theologians in the recent years, and there has been a growing interest in developing an Arab contemporary theology that engages the Arab reader, an Arab Christian biblical theology that seriously takes into consideration the Islamic context.
This is the urgent pressing need for the region. In addition, and due to the lack of Arabic Christian resources for the church and for the academy, there is the need to develop biblical commentary on each book of the Bible in the context of Islam as well as textbooks for seminaries.
My study and research is focused to meet this need. My doctoral studies at McMaster Divinity College focus on the OT, with major emphasis on developing an Arab-Christian-Biblical Theology of Jonah in the Arab-Islamic context.
What is your impression of Canada after studying there?
I well remember the speech of the judge at our Canadian citizenship ceremony where she said that, “Canada is a country of opportunities.” This statement summarises my experience in Canada. During our 10 years in Canada as a family, we have experienced how Canadians are welcoming, encouraging, and supportive people; they enable us as a family to pursue what God put on our heart. Our dreams come true, and even when we decided to come back to the Middle East, we were overwhelmed by their support and prayers.
What have been the highlights of your time so far at McMaster?
As an immigrant studying in a foreign country, the faculty at McMaster were able to understand my situation and what I am trying to accomplish in terms of my interest to allow my doctoral studies to serve the church in the MENA Region. They have been very flexible as they provide more space throughout the program to ask questions relevant to my context. The friendship and support I have received from both faculty and fellow students, moreover, motivated me to press on. Fellow students, for example, offered their help editing my work, as English is my second language.
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