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Hebrew Bible scholar to speak on compassion for the stranger

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Leading Hebrew Bible scholar Johanna van Wijk-Bos will visit Monmouth College Oct. 5-9 for a series of talks and discussions.

A professor emerita at Louisville (Ky.) Presbyterian Theological Seminary, van Wijk-Bos taught there for 40 years as Dora Pierce Professor of Bible and served as faculty liaison to the Women’s Center. Her Monmouth visit is made possible by a Teaching of the Bible Grant from the Presbyterian Church (USA).

“Professor Bos was a very influential teacher for me and has become a dear friend and mentor,” said Monmouth Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Dan Ott, who earned his master’s degree from the seminary in 1996. “She’s a first-rate scholar, having written or edited 11 books and published scores of scholarly articles. She is an indefatigable activist working on issues ranging from LGBTQ+ rights to women’s rights to health care and much more. And she is perhaps the best teacher I’ve ever had.”

Free and open to the public, van Wijk-Bos will present her lecture at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Morgan Room in Poling Hall. Titled “A Call to Attention: The Legacy of Compassionate Biblical Faith,” it will focus on the biblical Torah confession of God’s nature as compassionate, a declaration which issues a call on the human community to live lives of compassion and care for the stranger.

At 12:10 p.m. Oct. 9 in Dahl Chapel and Auditorium, van Wijk-Bos will deliver the sermon for the College’s weekly chapel service. Titled “You Shall Love the Stranger as You Love Yourself,” her sermon will be a meditation on Chapter 19 of Leviticus.

In addition to a series of lectures and meditations during her visit, van-Wijk-Bos will speak to students at the Presbyterian House, presenting a devotion on the parable of Jonah.

In 2005, van Wijk-Bos completed Making Wise the Simple – The Torah in Christian Faith and Practice. The book is on the reading list for this year’s Immigration Palooza book club at Monmouth College.

“It will be great to have her here as part of the series on immigration as she will be relating the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) to important issues about how we treat the stranger, the other, the migrant,” said Ott.

Ordained to the professional ministry in 1977 in Rochester, N.Y., at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church, van Wijk-Bos has served the church through teaching, lecturing, writing and speaking for the rights of those who are denied full citizenship in religion and society. She has participated in interfaith conferences and discussion groups, most recently at the University of Lund (Sweden) and in Jerusalem during a sabbatical leave in 2016.

In Louisville, Bos is an active member of The Salaam Network, a local organization that promotes goodwill and understanding among people of different faiths, specifically with a view to combat Islamophobia.