"I cannot be a scripture specialist without keeping the church, its needs and its ministry in view."
"Engaging the Scriptures can be an exhilirating experience for the mind and the spirit," says Arland Hultgren. "That's true especially when we read them together."
In his New Testament classes, Hultgren encourages his students to question and wonder about meaning — in other words, to be challenged by the Bible. "Questions are no threat," he says. "In fact, asking questions is part of the Christian heritage. I want my students to understand this and to leave my class with a sense of Biblical curiosity and adventure."
He also wants his students to carry with them the skill of close reading. "I want them to pay attention to the words — in Greek, if possible. And I want them to think about both the historical context and the literary context — to think about how the piece they are studying fits into the whole," Hultgren says.
Ordained in 1966, Hultgren received his Th.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. He considers himself first and foremost a pastor of the Lutheran church. This attitude informs his work. "I cannot be a scripture specialist without keeping the church, its needs and its ministry in view," he says.
As a scholar, Hultgren writes primarily for pastors and students. One of his books, Christ and His Benefits, is used in seminaries throughout the U.S. His newest book, The Parables of Jesus, provides a thorough-going study of 38 parables of Jesus. "I try to answer the question 'So what?' " Hultgren says. He hopes the book will be useful for pastors and preachers.
Hultgren believes passionately in the New Testament as a "life-giving" book. And his greatest desire is to see his students become preachers and teachers able "to lead others to their own life-giving experience with the text."