Education: BA, Yale University; MA, University of Washington; PhD, University of Washington.
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
What is your favorite item in your office?
It’s an original pottery fragment from the time of the second temple in Jerusalem. It’s from the first century BC or AD.
What languages can you read?
Ancient Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, and some Sanskrit.
What does the study of classics entail?
It often focuses on Greece 500–300 BC and Rome around 100 BC–AD 200 as periods in which many ideas that continue to shape our world began to flower.
What do you like about reading the Bible in Greek, instead of English?
The style of the Greek New Testament is often less lofty or more humble than we would expect from the English translation. There are even some grammatical ambiguities (e.g., “faith of Jesus Christ” in Galatians) that can be considered in more than one way (e.g., as “our faith in Jesus Christ,” “faith that marks the Christ-movement,” or even “the faith that Jesus Christ had and lived out”).
What’s your memorization technique for learning student names?
In language classes, I hand back student papers every class session, and that helps a lot. In other classes, I study the fabulous names-and-headshots sheet from Banner and annotate it based on current student appearances, especially glasses or changes in hairstyle. Moreover, what I teach has made me develop my abilities to memorize both words and pictures.
What’s your favorite mythological story?
I would have to say the myth of Orpheus, especially the part where he redeems his wife from the underworld, the place of death, by singing a beautiful song to persuade the underworld deities to let her return to life. For more details, see my Marston Lecture on Orpheus!
If you were a character in ancient Greece, who would you be?
I would be Prodicus, a famous grammar nerd who argued about what the feminine versions of animal names were.
If you were in ancient times, what do you think you would do for a living?
I hope I would end up as a grammaticus, who taught things having to do with words, but more realistically, I would end up as a farmer who sang poems as he worked.
What movie do you like from Biblical times?
Life of Brian, because of the Roman soldier correcting Brian’s Latin.
What’s the best place to go for art in Seattle?
I like the Olympic Sculpture Park, not only for its large outdoor sculptures, but also for the nurse log, a natural artwork being allowed to take its course.
Originally published in Seattle Pacific University’s etc magazine.