Great Teachers, Great Students

Last year I had the privilege of team-teaching a course on the Psalms for Preaching with Dr. Stephen Chapman.  If you are a preacher, you ought to have Dr. Chapman’s award winning theological commentary, First Samuel as Christian Scripture.  His determinedly Christian theological interpretation of this Old Testament book is breathtaking and immediately applicable to the challenge of formation of the congregation by the scriptural word.  You will be challenged and invigorated by Chapman’s readings of First Samuel.  His treatment of the call of Samuel, of the sagas of David and Saul are unforgettable and are perfect preparation for preaching.  Reading this unabashedly theological commentary will give you a sense of some of the excitement that occurs when Dr. Chapman is at the lectern in the classroom.

(There’s a great video interview with Stephen at

As a student at Yale, Stephen Chapman became interested in First Samuel while taking an Old Testament course with Dr. Ellen Davis.  A few weeks ago I sat in on Dr. Davis’ Doctor of Ministry class, “The Old Testament, Violence, and Leadership” at Duke Divinity School.  She and Dr. Sarah Musser artfully interpreted some troubling biblical texts in such a way that enabled our DMin students to make some surprising connections between the ancient text and our contemporary church contexts.

A distinctive feature of the Duke Doctor of Ministry program, from the first, has been the active participation of some of Duke’s best faculty like Stephen Chapman and Ellen Davis.  Our guiding goal in the Duke DMin is to mine the riches of the Christian theological disciplines in order to expand the leadership capacities of today’s church leaders.  Well-equipped pastoral leaders are those who are best able to orchestrate and instigate change to enable the church to thrive into the future.  We believe that the major way to better pastoral leaders is through great theological teachers.

If you are a church leader who wants to strengthen your own leadership capacity and would like to study with professors like Drs. Chapman and Davis, let me hear from you at

–Will Willimon

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