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Mount Angel Abbey is hosting four lectures on the New Testament Saturdays this winter and spring

COURTESY PHOTO - Abbot Peter EberleThere are times when making a point can be best accomplished not so much by what is said, but how it is said. A clever turn of phrase gets a person's attention. A good case in point — this is totally unbiased, of course — is St. Benedict's Rule. As far as I know, critics do not consider his "little rule for beginners" a literary masterpiece, but he surely has some nice turns of phrase that are quite unforgettable. One of my favorites occurs in chapter 64, "The Election of an Abbot," where he says the abbot has to be a man of discretion who knows how to arrange things so wisely that "the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from."

All of this is leading up to a niftily turned phrase that is more relevant for our immediate objective of introducing the theme for the winter/spring Christian in the World lecture series. Somewhere in his writings, St. Augustine observed: "The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New." It is an axiom I have always loved because it captures so well the oneness of God's sacred word.

Mindful of this mutual relationship between the Old and New Testaments, which St. Augustine captures so well, the 2018 winter/spring series is devoted to the study of the New Testament. It is fitting that this should be the topic for this series. A year ago the winter/spring series was devoted to the study of the Old Testament; and this fall, we have been privileged to explore the theme of covenant as it is found in both the Old and New Testaments. It is only logical that now we turn our attention to the New Testament for it is indeed in the New Testament that the Old is fully revealed and the covenant fulfilled.

The series is designed to introduce participants to a broad spectrum of the New Testament literature. Four areas are considered: the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew and Mark), the Lucan literature (Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles), the Pauline literature and the Johannine literature.

"But wait, there's more!" as the CBS Saturday Evening News advertisements might put it.

Not only does the series offer what will prove to be interesting topics, but it also offers four qualified speakers.

Opening the series earlier this month, on Saturday, Jan. 13, was Dr. Mark Nussberger. He presented the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. Dr. Nussberger joined the Mount Angel Seminary faculty this fall. He has been kept busy ever since with a full academic load. A native of Wisconsin, Nussberger moved to the balmier climes of Hawaii to do his undergraduate work. He graduated from Chaminade, the Marianist university in Honolulu, with a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies. From there, he returned to the Midwest to earn a master's degree in theology at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. He studied systematic theology and both the Old and New Testaments. Finally, he earned a doctorate in Scripture from the Harvard Divinity School.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, Dr. Elaine Park will return to the Christian in the World lectern to present the Lucan literature — that is, the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Park is no stranger to the hilltop or to the Christian in the World participants. For many years she was on the staff at Mount Angel Seminary, both as a teacher and an administrator, and is fondly remembered by many of her students as a delightful, dynamic and very knowledgeable teacher of both the Old and New Testaments. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge of St. Luke's writings in general and the Acts of the Apostles in particular, for which she says she has a special love.

On Saturday, March 10, Father Steven Clovis will discuss the writings of St. Paul. Always generous with his time, Clovis has been the speaker at several Christian in the World Saturdays in recent years. He holds a license (STL, the equivalent of a master's degree in this country) from the Gregorian University in Rome. For the past few years, he has been assigned full time to the Seminary where he serves in many capacities, including professor of Scripture.

Finally, on Saturday, April 14, Father Thomas Koller, O.C.D. (Order of the Discalced Carmelite), will conclude the series with a presentation of the Johannine literature. Although this will be his debut as a Christian in the World speaker, he is no stranger to the hilltop. For the last three years, he has been serving as a formation director in the seminary and a professor of Johannine literature. Having earned an SSL (also an equivalent of a master's degree) from the Biblicum in Rome, he is well qualified to teach and lecture on John. He is a man of many interests and many jobs. Not only is he fully occupied with his work in the seminary, this year he is also superior of the Carmelite House of Studies, which is located on the west side of the Abbey hill.

As usual, the talks will be presented in the library auditorium. Participants are welcome to attend the community Mass in the Abbey Church at 8 a.m. The library doors will open around 8:30. Participants are welcome to sign in, grab a cup of coffee and a roll, and socialize a bit before the session begins. The morning begins with an opening prayer at 9 a.m., followed by two presentations of roughly 45 minutes each (9:15-10:05 a.m. and 10:20-11:10 a.m.). A question-and-answer period from about 11:20 to noon concludes the morning.

While this series is a short course, indeed, the steering committee is confident that the lectures will be both engaging and illuminating. We are delighted to invite you to join us for the winter/spring Christian in the World lectures.

Cost is $50 for the series (four Saturdays) or $15 a session. Student cost is $20 for the series or $5 a session.

You can preregister by sending checks made payable to Mount Angel Abbey to: Mount Angel Abbey, P.O. Box 614, St. Benedict, OR 97373.

For further information, contact Cecile Becherman at 503-393-5041.

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