Saturday, August 17, 2013

Do you know Alan Streett?

It is very humbling for a professor to receive such a nice tribute from a student as the one below. Mark Moore’s comments are as much a testimony to his gracious character as they are to my teaching ability.

About once a decade or so God brings a student across your path with whom you make a major impact, who then builds upon the foundation and eventually goes on to do greater things than the mentor. Mark Moore is such a person. 

Professors live for such opportunities. Mark, I am glad God caused our paths to cross. I am proud of you! Thanks for the kind words.

I’d like to introduce you to Alan Streett.

I met Alan fifteen years ago as a young aspiring preacher. I was a classic caricature of one who was full of zeal without knowledge. Alan was close to the age of my father and was full of knowledge with zeal. Upon meeting him I immediately sensed that this was someone I wanted to know better.
Our relationship began as a student-teacher relationship. My degree plan didn’t quite call for all the classes that he taught, so I simply ignored my degree plan. In my mind I had a new major–I was now majoring in Alan Streett.

The reason for this degree plan suicide was simple, Alan was a Bible teacher. You came to class and he opened the Bible and exegeted the text. I, along with everyone else, learned how misinformed we were by proof-texting and folk-theology. Words had context, verses had context, paragraphs had context, chapters had context, books had context, everything had context–and if you didn’t know the context then you probably didn’t know what you were talking about.

It wasn’t so much that Alan taught me what the verses meant; he taught me how to think. He constantly encouraged me to study and research without fear of the outcome. To this day I hear him saying to me, “Mark, you have a curious mind. Don’t be afraid to pursue truth wherever it may lead you.”

It’s been a long time since I was a “formal” student of Dr. Streett, but to this day he remains the single greatest influence in my everyday thinking. Our relationship has now become more of a dear friendship between a father and a son. Typically we spend an afternoon together every month, drinking coffee and talking about life, research, dreams, and Jesus–always Jesus.

For the past ten years I’ve had a front row seat to Alan’s research on the kingdom of God and the nature of the Lord’s Supper in the first century under Roman domination. I’ve so wanted others to benefit from his research and keen insight into the New Testament. That is why I am so thankful that this year has seen the publication of two books by Alan Streett.

The first book is Heaven on Earth: Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now. It is an easy to read book written for a popular audience, but at the same time contains cutting edge scholarship on empire studies, voluntary associations, and other current New Testament topics. It reads with the simplicity of a typical popular Christian life bestseller, but contains biblical insight on par with key texts only accessible to academics.

In fact, one reviewer says, Heaven on Earth is “the best contemporary theological book I’ve read this millennium.”

The second book published by Streett this year is Subversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman Domination during the First Century. Unlike Heaven on Earth, this is a scholarly text written for an academic audience. However, one of Alan’s true gifts is his ability to explain difficult topics in a clear and easy to understand manner. Therefore, you should not let the scholarly nature of this book scare you away.

Subversive Meals is one of those rare books that actually change the conversation–you cannot read it and come away thinking about the Lord’s Supper the same as you did before reading it. In fact, every scholarly work written on the Lord’s Supper from this point forward will have to engage with this work in order to demonstrate academic integrity to the subject matter.

It would be easy to say, “Yeah, but you’ve already said he was like a father to you. What else would we expect you to say about this book?!” I know, it’s one thing when your mom is the only one who says you’re a great singer–you then wind up looking stupid on American Idol. But it’s another thing when you stand in front of the judges and they give you a standing ovation and you go on to win because all of America agrees.

Don’t just take my word for it. Subversive Meals has been applauded by Warren Carter, Dennis E. Smith, Richard H. Horsley, and Joel B. Green. These are the crème de la crème of New Testament studies, Roman Empire studies, and first century meal studies. Scholars of this magnitude have read plenty enough to know when something is a significant contribution–they all agree, Subversive Meals is.

For years I’ve wanted everyone to know my friend Alan Streett. Now they can, and soon they all will.

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