Students “transform traditions” in new journal series

01-06-2010 by

Geoff Ashmun

McCormick Theological Seminary is launching a student-driven, biannual journal series designed to give readers an inside look at the kind of progressive scholarship and theological inquiry that is a regular part of seminarians’ course work and classroom experience as they prepare for the challenges of ministry and church leadership.

Entitled Transforming Traditions, the printed series appropriately begins with Beginnings: Children’s Stories from Matthew and Genesis, a fascinating collection of familiar Biblical texts interpreted anew by seminary students for children and youth, which grew out of a course taught by Professors Ted Hiebert and Lib Caldwell.

“Our aim was to have each student do solid biblical study, a thorough interpretation of a biblical story as the first audience would have heard it,” Hiebert and Caldwell explain in the book’s introduction. “We then asked them to tell this story to a specific modern audience, taking account of both the cultural differences and human commonalities between these two audiences.”

The result is an inspiring wedding of text and original illustrations intended to convey rigorous biblical analysis in the most accessible way possible, which Hiebert and Caldwell identify as “the core of theological education: transforming traditions.”

“This is exactly what we want our students to learn to do as well as possible, because this is what their ministry is all about.”

Subsequent volumes in the series are already underway. Volume Two, based on a course taught by Professors Robert Cathey and Janaan Hashim, compiles student reflections on religious pluralism born out of interaction with people of different faiths living and practicing in the Chicago area. Volume Three is an immersive journal documenting a travel seminar in Egypt in which students from McCormick and Cairo explore several sites central to the Judeo-Christian tradition and engage each other on the meaning and implications of Christian ministry in very different cultural settings.

Volume One, Beginnings: Children’s Stories from Matthew and Genesis, is available for purchase online. For more information on the series, send inquiries to