Latest Event Updates

Going to SBL in San Francisco . . . ?

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Then might I suggest you join us for the inaugural sessions of the new program unit I chair (along with Chris Heard) dedicated to the book of Genesis. We have two stellar sessions this year.

Genesis 11/19/2011 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM Room:Fillmore – Renaissance Parc 55
Theme: Genesis and Theology
Christopher Heard, Pepperdine University, Presiding
John Anderson, Augustana College Divine Deception in Genesis: What and Whose Theology? (30 min)
Terence Fretheim, Luther Seminary Jacob’s Wrestling and Issues of Divine Power (Gen 32:22-32) (30 min)
Joel Kaminsky, Smith College Genesis 1-11: Reflections on the Theological Dimensions of the Opening of Genesis (30 min)
Tammi Schneider, Claremont Graduate University Where Do We Go From Here: Women in the Book of Genesis (30 min)
Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, Respondent (30 min)


Genesis 11/21/2011 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM Room:Sierra I – Marriott Marquis
Theme: Wrestling with Gen 1: The State of the Question and Avenues Moving Forward
John Anderson, Augustana College, Presiding
Christopher Heard, Pepperdine University Genesis 1: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going (30 min)
William Brown, Columbia Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
Mark Smith, New York University, Panelist (15 min)
John Walton, Wheaton College (Illinois), Panelist (15 min)
Ellen van Wolde, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Panelist (15 min)
Discussion (60 min)

Please, do join us!

My THIRD book under contract . . .

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I’m delighted to announce that what will be my third book is now under contract with Wipf & Stock. This will be a bit different; I am co-writing it with my teacher, mentor, and friend at Augustana College, Murray Haar. It is on the Holocaust and wrestles with the religious and theological questions that event raises for Judaism and Christianity. The book will be a conversation/debate, with each of us weighing in and responding to central questions and one another. Current, tentative title: Circling the Fire: A Jew and Christian Debate the Holocaust. Tentative manuscript delivery date: 2015. This allows me to focus my current energies on the Eerdmans book I’m writing, An Untamable God: Reading the Old Testament’s Troubling Texts Theologically.

Newspaper Story About Me and My First Book, Jacob and the Divine Trickster

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It’s apparently a slow news day in Mitchell, SD (we are the 8th largest city in the state, boasting a population of about 15,000!), because the Mitchell Daily Republic, our local newspaper, has today printed a large, half-page story on me and my new book, Jacob and the Divine Trickster: A Theology of Deception and YHWH’s Fidelity to the Ancestral Promise in the Jacob Cycle. The story/interview is wide-ranging, talking about my unexpected interest and entrance into the field of religion, my time teaching at Augustana College, and a bit about my second book, which is currently under contract with Eerdmans. The story is available online (though the online version is lacking the dazzling graphics, which include litrally a HUGE picture of the cover of my book, which dwarfs the photo of me also included), and you can read it HERE. Or . . . below . . .


Professor, a Mitchell native, wins praise for biblical scholarship

John Anderson is one of the few biblical scholars in the state, a professor of religion at Augustana College in Sioux Falls and the author of the new scholarly book, “Jacob and the Divine Trickster.”

By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic

Religion wasn’t always a passion for John Anderson.

“I went to Sunday school and church because my parents woke me up and told me I had to go,” said Anderson, 30, a Mitchell native and son of Ed and Eileen Anderson. “There were plenty of times I pretended to sleep in or went begrudgingly.”

But after taking an introduction to religion course at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, Anderson set down a path that now has him immersed in studies of the Old Testament.

He is one of the few biblical scholars in the state, a professor of religion at Augustana College in Sioux Falls and the author of the new scholarly book, “Jacob and the Divine Trickster.”

The book, which is an updated version of Anderson’s doctoral dissertation, examines the character of Jacob from the book of Genesis. The book looks at Jacob’s deceptive traits and explores why, in the end, Jacob is guided and protected by God.

The book was published in August by Eisenbrauns Publishing in Indiana.

“It was very affirming, validating and motivating,” Anderson said of seeing the first copy of his book.

The book received a positive review from Walter Brueggemann, a well-known Old Testament scholar and theologian. He praised the book as a “bold, fresh reading of the narrative. … Anderson works with a careful, self-conscious method that lends force and credibility to his suggestive argument.”

Anderson was thrilled to receive the review.

“He’s a very big name in Old Testament studies. His work has paved the way for me to be able to offer the type of contribution I am giving. He has been so foundational for the work I’m trying to do. And encouraging, too, of what I’ve done,” Anderson said.

A 2000 Mitchell High School graduate, Anderson originally set out to major in psychology at Augustana.

“Augie requires you to take a religion class. So I took the intro class and ended up having a teacher that was incredibly interesting and motivating. He really made this topic come alive to me,” Anderson said.

The professor, Dr. Murray Haar, is still a faculty member at Augustana and is now a close friend of Anderson’s.

After the intro to religion class, Anderson continued to take other classes to build on the questions and interests he’d formed in the first course.

By the end of his freshman year, he changed his major to religion.

“It was very unexpected and nothing I had anticipated,” he said.

Anderson continued his education at Duke Divinity School, earning his master’s in theological studies. For his doctorate at Baylor University, he narrowed his focus to Old Testament studies.

“The Old Testament is so complex and diverse,” Anderson said. “It is, in a way, very true to life. Some parts are very disturbing and others are very beautiful and empowering.”

Upon his graduation, Anderson knew he wanted to return to South Dakota to teach.

“South Dakota is home. It’s always been home, for my wife, her family, my family and for me. I wanted to come back because it is home, but I also wanted to come back because it is here that this crazy journey into religion started for me.”

As a professor, Anderson strives to give his students the same opportunities he had to voice concerns and raise questions about religion in an “honest and safe environment.”

“I want students to emerge from my class as thoughtful readers of the biblical text and be able to articulate what they believe, and why they believe it. That’s really the heart of what I’m trying to do.”

Anderson is on contract to write a second book, which is due in 2013. The working title is “An Untameable God: Reading the Old Testament’s Troubling Texts Theologically.”

“It’s going to broaden the focus,” he said. “Traditionally in the Old Testament, people have this deception that it is strictly a God of wrath and anger and judgment, and the New Testament is a God of good, grace, mercy and love. That’s wrong. I’m going to try and look more broadly at how do we make sense of the places in the Old Testament where God seems to act problematically.”

Announcing my SECOND book, under contract!

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I am delighted to announce that my second book is now under contract with the fine folk at Eerdmans. The project, currently titled An Untamable God: Reading the Old Testament’s Troubling Texts Theologically, will offer my voice to a very hot topic in OT scholarship right now–with contributions over the last two years from Eric Seibert (see my RBL review of his Disturbing Divine Behavior), David Lamb (read my thorough review of his book God Behaving Badly HERE, with links to earlier parts), Paul Copan, Thom Stark, and others–and will seek to redress what I perceive to be an imbalance in how troubling texts are approached and handled. I will write the manuscript over the next year, delivering it to Eerdmans in the first half of 2013.

In the meantime, in preparation for my second book . . . why don’t you buy my first, Jacob and the Divine Trickster: A Theology of Deception and YHWH’s Fidelity to the Ancestral Promise in the Jacob Cycle.

A Video Book Recommendation for My Book Jacob and the Divine Trickster

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Jim West has posted up a video recommendation for my new book, Jacob and the Divine Trickster. It’s actually quite funny, but I am appreciative to Jim for highlighting the book as he has. I’ve embedded the video here, but do check out the link to Jim’s post, where I respond!

Thanks, Jim!

My Book, Jacob and the Divine Trickster, is Here! (Or, I’ve got my copy . . . do you have yours?)

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Today I received my box of author copies of my book, Jacob and the Divine Trickster: A Theology of Deception and YHWH’s Fidelity to the Ancestral Promise in the Jacob Cycle from the good folks at Eisenbrauns. Beings that this is my first book (though definitely not my last!), I must confess to it being quite the surreal experience finally seeing the finished project and holding it in my hands.

My sincerest thanks for all those who have already purchased a copy. I am hopeful also that even if you are uable to purchase a copy, you would request a copy for your school’s library holdings. And please, to those who read it, don’t be strangers. I’d love to know your thoughts, and to engage in worthwhile and thoughtful conversation on relevant matters.

I’ve got my copy . . . DO YOU HAVE YOURS?