For the 2020-21 academic year, I drive back and forth from home on the northside of Chicago to the Henry Center on the Trinity International University Campus. It’s part of my residential fellowship I received for a project on the theory of pleasure.
My communte is 30min each way, and I’m not much of a music listener, so this 2020 year has been a great way to re-introduce myself to academic podcasts in biblical studies, theology, or more broadly pastoral ministry. My choices have been random and eclectic but I do have some favorites. So here is my top 5 most listened to podcasts for the 2020 year.
Probably my go-to podcast in the mornings. For the most part, they interview authors of some recently published books in biblical studies (in the main) and theology (less frequently) that are making waves in the academy but also have real-life implications for the ministry of the church. Some of their more recent interviews have included Jemar Tisby (The Color of Compromise), Nyasha Junior & Jeremy Schipper (Black Samson), Esau McCaulley (Reading While Black), Justo González (Teach Us to Pray), A.J. Culp (Memoir of Moses), Bratt Pitre & Michael Barber (Paul, a New Covenant Jew) and so much more. I’m almost done listening to their entire archive from 2016 to today. So far they consistently produce a new episode every 1-2 weeks so their library keeps building. They even interviewed my friend and a former prof at North Park Theological Seminary Stephen Chester (Paul among the Reformers).
This podcast addresses various issues that have gained the attention of the wider public, or is particularly challenging and relevant to the ministry of the church. The podcast is a stunning 800+ episodes and counting. I’ve only randomly listened to a few dozen but I might just go through the whole archive once I finish the On Script episodes. You’ll find a broad range of interviews, some with biblical scholars like Madison Pierce talking about trinity in her latest book (Divine Discourse in the Epistle of Hebrews) to a general discussion of the Enneagram with Jeff Cook. Several episodes are dedicated to the issue of sexuality, gender, and pastoral ministry which I have found very helpful. If I did not have a penchant for biblical studies, this could have been #1 on my list.
This is relatively a new podcast but dear to my soul. They are only 9 episodes in, but I look forward to its growing reach. The hosts interview and discuss with an Asian American Christian leader various aspects of biblical justice and its particular expression in the life and ministry of Asian American (and the broader) church. I’m digging the latest episode with InterVarsity staff Jeff Liou on thinking through Critical Race Theory.
I put these together since they cover the “turbo-nerd” side of biblical scholarship by examining mostly historical-critical issues in New Testament studies and related Jewish, Greco-Roman, and Patristic works. NT Pod is the podcast of Mark Goodacre and focuses mostly on critical issues in gospel studies, textual criticism, but some times veers to more wider interests as his recent interview with Arial Saber who sleuths the story of how a forgery (i.e., the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife) duped some prominent NT scholars. Goodacre has slowed down his episode release of late but he has an archive of 95+ and counting as far back as 2010 in itunes.
Ian Mills and Laura Robinson impressively began New Testament Review as doctoral students in the Graduate School of Religion at Duke University. As the name implies, theirs is a review of “best hits” (seminal articles/essays) in the history of NT scholarship, which, for better or worse, influence a generation of biblical scholars with their theories and arguments. The general listener might not be as interested in these episodes as I have been, but they are detailed, sharp, scholarly engagements with a touch of humor at times.
#5 The Disrupters (apple itune link): Hosted by Esau McCaulley and sponsored by Intervarsity Press. His podcast is two seasons in and relatively new as well. He interviews authors and Christian leaders who disrupt the status quo with a prophetic challenge concerning salient social, political and cultural issues of our day, including most recently on race and racism. McCaulley also interviews scholars as Carmen Joy Imes (Bearing God’s Name) and N.T Wright and gets them to think about the implications of their work on such issues and the life of the church.
Edit to the post 12/19: I’m giving more love to the honorable mentions, which I also enjoy. I just did not quite have enough podcasts to which I regularly listen to make a top 10.
#6 Foreword (apple itunes link): Hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce and James Arcadi and sponsored by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The interviews are mostly with TEDS faculty + alumni but what they share is a timely message for the whole church. The friendly banter between the hosts is the humor I need every morning. There are some amazing episodes. My fav’s are with the Rev. Dr. Charlie Dates on the Black Church’s love of God, Scripture, and one’s neighbor; and with Prof. Te-Li Lau and his new book Defending Shame on how shaming in Euro-American culture is not the same as edifying/exhortative uses of shame by Paul. Paul’s use is closer to Chinese American cultural understandings of shame for moral formation.
#7 Exegetically Speaking (apple itunes link): Hosted by David Capes of The Lanier Theological Library. It features guest episodes with the Wheaton College faculty as they give exegetical snippets of insight for various biblical texts engaging with the original Greek (NT) or Hebrew/Aramaic (OT). My fav episode has got to be on the reception history of Isaiah’s Jesus the leper with Andy Abernathy.
#8 For the Life of the World (apple itunes link). Hosted by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. The episodes feature Miroslav Volf and occasionally invited guests to speak about theology in the public circle including hot topics as this past presidential election and the church’s ongoing engagement (or lack of) with structural racism in this country.
May be at the end of 2021, I’ll be able to do a Top 10 list. For now, enjoy these! You can’t go wrong with any of them. Cheers!